The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
My Time Interning at UUSC
By Lóre Stevens on August 25, 2022
Lóre Stevens interned with UUSC and the UUA’s College of Social Justice early in 2022. After completing her internship, she penned the following blog about her experience.
I’d seen the little boxes before. Every year, they’d appear in a pyramid at my church, First UU Nashville. Take ‘em home, fill ‘em up. Guest at Your Table, what a nice idea. That was pretty much all I knew about the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
After encouragement from my beloved Nashville congregation, I headed to Harvard Divinity School. There, I learned a lot more about UUSC. The UU symbol of the flaming chalice, for example, was originally created for UUSC! The new organization had helped many Jewish refugees flee Nazi-occupied territory. One of the refugees, Hans Deutsch, had created the symbol for them. UUSC has been doing amazing work like this for 80 years! And they were currently being led by Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, who had served First UU Nashville before I arrived.. I needed to do a unit of field education and the signs added up.
I interned with UUSC for the academic year. I was supervised by Rev. Laura Randall, who’s currently responsible for those pyramids of charming Guest at Your Table boxes I’d seen in my congregation. I joined Rev. Laura on the Development team, the folks responsible for keeping UUSC fueled to do its work across the globe.
I have learned so much about UUSC’s work. Their areas of focus are international justice and accountability, migrant justice, and climate/disaster justice. These are some of the most pressing issues our world faces today. Rather than swooping in to “save” people, UUSC does this work by partnering with grassroots organizations run by and for the people directly affected by these global injustices.
UUSC’s alignment with UU values can also be seen in the way the organization runs in Cambrdige. The workers are unionized, which is rare for nonprofits. Even the UUA can’t say the same (yet). UUSC is committed to hiring Black, Indigenous, and people of color from various places across the world. The diversity of identities and nationalities is impressive and strengthens UUSC’s shared wisdom about the issues they seek to address.
The program I was most proud to work on was the Congregational Accompaniment Project for Asylum-Seekers (CAPAS). The CAPAS team helps UU congregations discern and prepare to host asylum-seekers as they await hearings. This takes Guest at Your Table to a literal level.
Imagine if your community had been ripped apart by war or climate disaster and you fled to seek safety. Perhaps some of you reading this have experienced just that. Poet Warsan Shire wrote, “You only leave home when home is the mouth of the shark.” But imagine if you run right into the jaws of another beast: detention. CAPAS helps get asylum-seekers out of detention and into welcoming homes until they have a hearing, are allowed to work, and can begin to rebuild a sense of home for themselves. Some congregations host guests themselves, while others offer financial support or supplies for the journey. I hope that if you’re reading this, you can inspire your congregation to consider what action is right for you. You can learn more about CAPAS here.
The only downside to my time with the UUSC was our physical separation due to the pandemic. I would have loved to come into the office and spend time with the devoted and brilliant folks that face these enormous issues together. They do it in small, sweet ways like Guest at Your Table. They do it by partnering with friends and neighbors across the world. UUSC is one of the best ways Unitarian Universalism expresses its—our—values. I look forward to singing their praises in my future ministry. I hope the flaming chalice, which they first lit, never goes out.
Photo Credit: UUSC Staff