If a congregation wants to say that they're truly welcoming to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, they need to truly represent them. They need to not just have food drives for the community… they need to offer food to people in the congregation, and not just "our neighbors" in the surrounding area, as if those people aren't actually part of the church, but rather separate. (As if the church is "In the world, but not of the world"?) Helping to establish social justice needs to start in the home, or rather, in the church, amongst its parishioners. Otherwise poor people will come to your church and feel disenfranchised and leave. They'll feel like you care about strangers in Uganda but not about the people directly in their midst. (This has happened to me directly a number of times. I've been asked to give money when I've been deeply underinsured and desperately needing specific medical care with no organization to give it to me. I mentioned my problem to the regional head of the board for UUs for SJ and the best he could come up with was "we've failed you". No "oh god, that's awful… we'll have a meeting and see what we can do to fill this obvious gap in the system." Just him giving up. Such a position of privilege. Forget me, make me go away, make me be someone else's problem. But I don't have that luxury to give up. This is my life I might lose if I don't get treated. Way to REALLY care about SJ. You fight for the environment but not for a person who came to you with a desperate need.) And it shows that those of higher economic class don't even consider that there are those of lower economic class in their congregations… we poor are left invisible, unseen, unnoticed in UU churches. People are unaware. They are so privileged that it doesn't occur to them that they worship with people not as privileged as them. They assume everyone in the congregation not only, say, has enough to eat and adequate health care coverage, but can afford to give away food and money towards health care coverage in developing countries.
People in poor churches all band together and help each other and are aware of the socioeconomic backgrounds in their churches, but people in rich churches never consider that some there do not have enough and would like to receive some help from those in the Beloved Community. Social Justice isn't something we do to or for other people, but something we do TOGETHER for EACH OTHER. It requires those of higher socioeconomic levels to consider themselves not allies, separate but caring, but rather ONE OF US. It needs to become their struggle too. It needs to mean something to them because it's happening to those they consider equal and the same... one of us, one like us, not separate from us. They take on the struggle of their parishioners because they understand what happens to one of us happens to all of us. That our fights are their fights and vice versa. Social justice is about identifying as a whole and acting as such.
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