Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

← About UUSC

History & Vision

UUSC's work began in 1939 when Rev. Waitstill and Martha Sharp took an extraordinary risk, helping refugees escape Nazi persecution in Europe.

When Unitarian minister Rev. Waitstill and his wife Martha Sharp set sail from the United States in February 1939 to help refugees escape Nazi persecution, they put in motion UUSC’s more than 75-year legacy of advocating for human rights and social justice alongside the most oppressed, exploited, and vulnerable members of our human family.

Just weeks after their arrival in Czechoslovakia, the couple watched Hitler’s troops march into Prague. They were shadowed by Gestapo agents. Their offices were ransacked, and they had to burn files to protect refugees’ identities. The young couple narrowly escaped arrest by returning home in August.

Inspired by Rev. Waitsill and Martha Sharp’s courageous mission, the Unitarian Services Committee, the precursor to UUSC, was established in 1940 to continue and formalize humanitarian service. For over 75 years, UUSC has maintained a steadfast presence on the frontlines of social justice movements around the globe.

Although we continue to innovate in response to the rapidly changing landscape of human rights advocacy, our core values and vision of a world free from injustice where all can realize their full human rights remain foundational. Learn how our unique approach supports lasting human rights progress.