The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Virginia (UULMVA) was formed in 2014 after a discussion at a Tidewater Cluster meeting showed much interest in forming a group to provide a voice for Unitarian Universalist principles and values in discussions on public policy issues in Virginia. Its primary focus is on the Virginia General Assembly and the executive branch. 2015 was the first year that the organization visited the legislature. Although the weather was bad, over twenty UUs from around the state participated. For 2016, it is hoped that many more will attend on Wednesday, January 20th.
The UULMVA has completed both a vision and a mission statement. It has an eleven member board of directors and meets every quarter. Each year we select our legislative priorities. Last year we had four and this year we have four. Some are the same as there was no action taken on them.
The four priority areas for 2016 are: health care expansion, income inequality, voting rights, and Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter is in support of the UUA’s Action of Immediate Witness supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, which was adopted at General Assembly in June 2015.
Also at General Assembly, representatives of about fifteen states met to hear from the four states that had been working with their legislatures the longest. We learned that there are different ways to approach the problems that they encounter. Keeping people informed is probably the biggest issue that everyone deals with in their state. Funding is another issue. Most have a full time person handling the paperwork and communications. There are now twenty-one states that have some form of a UU legislative ministry.
The below statement is from the Affiliated Congregation Agreement, which it is hoped that the majority of the twenty-six congregations in Virginia will eventually sign.
Unitarian Universalist Principles guide us in creating a more just world by being an active voice in the public arena. We will contribute to the legacy of UU activism by understanding and acting on the issues of our time, to create sustained positive change, through the work of organized activists, who have the courage to challenge and confront oppression and oppressors. Our mission is to engage individuals and congregations in a continuous process of learning, connection and action by increasing the power of our voices and making those voices an effective tool for change to proclaim our vision of justice through words and deeds. Our goal is to work together to coordinate our political advocacy efforts with each other and with other Virginia organizations to change public policy in Virginia.
If you are interested in going to Richmond on January 20th for the legislative visit, please contact Sandra Engelhardt by Jan. 13th for meal counts and transportation sharing.