First Universalist seeks to transform ourselves, our community, and our world through advocating for economic, environmental, LGBTQ, immigrant, and racial justice. You'll often find First Universalist members putting their faith into action at protest marches, prayer vigils, and homeless shelters; marching in the Pride parade, cleaning up Washington Square Park, and collecting school supplies for School No. 7. We follow the Unitarian Universalist (UU) tradition of "deeds not creeds." If you share these values and are looking for a place to get involved, we welcome you to join us in our justice ministries.
Eunice Brooks Eckberg Racial Justice Film Series
The Eunice Brooks Eckberg Racial Justice Film Series is named in memory of a beloved First Universalist Church member who was gifted with a love for music and literature and had an enduring quest for racial justice from her youth at Marshall High School that lasted throughout her lifetime. She was tireless in her giving as a Rochester City School District teacher and in her work at Rochester Psychiatric Hospital.
First Universalist Initiative for Racial Equity (FIRE) is pleased to honor Eunice’s memory with this film series.
About the Film Series
This series features films that address racial justice through history, music and spiritual avenues. Each film will be followed by facilitated discussion of ways to further the message of racial equity in our city and world.
10/13/19 "Reconstruction Part I" (PBS, 2018, 2 hours )
The aftermath of the Civil War was bewildering, exhilarating and terrifying. African Americans had played a crucial role in saving the Union and now, as the country grappled with the term and implications of Reconstruction, they struggled to breathe life into their hard-won freedom. The result was a second American Revolution. White Supremacy rears its ugly head as 1876 election shows.
11/10/19 "Reconstruction Part II" (PBS, 2018, 2 hours )
The rise of Jim Crow, sharecropping, convict leasing, and lynching drew a 'color line'. Racist imagery saturated popular culture and Southern propaganda manipulated the story.
12/8/19 “13th“ (2016, Ava DuVernay)
History of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on nation’s prisons that are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.
1/12/20 "Get Out" (2017, 1 hr. 44 min)
Director Jordan Peele. Now that Chris and his girlfriend Rose have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth he could never have imagined.
2/9/20 "Twenty Feet from Stardom" (2013, 1.5 hours)
Filmmaker Morgan Neville shines a long overdue spotlight on the hit-making contributions of longtime backup singers like Darlene Love and Merry Clayton. Academy award for best Documentary Feature.
3/8/20 "In this Delicate Turning" (2019)
After exploring el poder de nosotros (the power of we), what are we ready to do? Let's not be servants of the past in new cups. Let's all get free by planting faithful seeds of change and together turn to free the faith we love. A worship service led by Reverend Marta I. Valentin at the UUA General Assembly 6/28/19.
5/16/20 "When They See Us" a Netflix series
When They See Us is a 2019 American drama web television miniseries created, co-written, and directed by Ava DuVernay for Netflix, that premiered in four parts on May 31, 2019. It is based on events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case and explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were falsely accused then prosecuted on charges related to the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City.
Congregation Votes for partnership in Working against Racism
On Sunday, June 2, 2019, First Universalist members overwhelmingly voted to formalize our collaboration with Spiritus Christi Anti-Racism Coalition. (SPARC) https://www.spirituschristi.org/spiritusministries/sparc/
The effort to build a Heritage Civil Rights Park is the brainchild of the SPARC Team led by Reverend Myra Brown, pastor of Spiritus Christi. First Universalist will partner with the team on initiatives to make the park a reality and to help justice flow like a river. Together we can make move toward a more united community that sees and embraces all colors.
Our Church will proudly display a BLACK LIVES MATTER banner both inside and outside the church with congregation members joining to address racism and promote healing and heroism in the face of racism wherever it occurs.
This Fall plans include:
Eunice Eckberg Film Series, commemorating a beloved church member, will sponsor monthly films with facilitated discussion to teach and illuminate. Our first two sessions will feature Reconstruction After the Civil War Times to be determined.
Monthly Drop-in Discussions will be on the Second Sunday and feature anti-racism themes.
Sunday September 8th features De Jure Segregation and Racism in Rochester: Redlining, and more presented by Shane Wiegand, a Rush-Henrietta School teacher who is someone not to miss. He’s leading the way with student activists who are inspirations. More topics to follow.
Join us for this commitment to justice. We welcome support, synergy and sincerity as we go forward.
Project Team Co-chairs
We are proud to support the following organizations through monetary donations and hands-on involvement.
Clara's Cupboard/Community Garden
Initiatives to reach out to the local community include our community garden and little free library (known as "Clara's Cupboard") located on the southwest corner of the building. Both of these provide free food, supplies, and literature to workers, residents, and visitors to our downtown neighborhood.
On the second Sunday of each month, we take up a collection of toiletries, paper goods, and non-perishable food items during our service to benefit the Community Food Cupboard on Nester Street. Our congregants continue to give generously each month.
We participate in Interfaith Impact of NYS, an interfaith consortium that takes on community problems.
Metro Justice is a member-driven, grassroots organization dedicated to social, economic, and racial justice in Rochester, NY. This past year, First Universalist members and friends participated in efforts to ensure all American workers earn a wage of at least $15 an hour.
We march in the annual Rochester Pride Parade every year to show our support to the LGBTQ+ community of Rochester.
Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (RAIHN) is a non-profit organization of faith communities assisting homeless families in achieving sustainable independence. Every fifteen weeks, we host RAIHN guests here at the church, and our volunteers prepare rooms and cook meals throughout the week, among other tasks. Our upcoming RAIHN host weeks and training opportunities are announced through our newsletters and weekly announcements.
Roc/ACTS is a faith-based community organization project of multi-racial, interfaith, urban & suburban congregations and groups that train and empower citizens to create systemic change. Roc/ACTS focuses on issues related to education, poverty/jobs, and criminal justice.
We provide tutors, as requested by teachers, for students in various grades at School 7 in the Rochester City School District.
Social Justice Plate Collection
On the third Sunday of each month, our Sunday morning plate collection is donated to an organization involved in social justice work. Most recipient organizations are local and often underfunded. Some past recipients from the last year are Flower City Pickers, Enough is Enough, REACH, NCBI Rochester, and ROCovery Fitness.
This year's recipients TBA!
Planning a church event? Here's a handy checklist
to help you plan!
Learn more at uua.org/justice
Becky Elwell, Heather Jones, & Joy Leccese
To learn more about our Social Justice Circles and how to create your own Social Justice Circle, click here.