Monthly newsletter for UU-UNO Envoys.
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News and updates from the UU-UNO to keep you informed.
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Dear ,

The UU-UNO is anticipating the arrival next week of our summer interns! Also of course we are gearing up for the UUA General Assembly in a few weeks where we'll be hosting a workshop on our 6th Principle (with other folx from the UUA International Office as well as Micaela Lattimer - a youth from UU Congregation of Columbia whom many of you might recognize from the Seminar Planning Committee in 2018)!

On behalf of the UU-UNO I am very excited to announce the list of 2018-2019 Blue Ribbon Congregations below! Congratulations and thank you to those congregations for their dedication to global engagement and peace-building.

Keep an eye out later this month for the UN Sunday packet! It's under development now but while you wait, I encourage you to start talking with the calendar-guardian at your congregation to set a date for your UN Sunday service this fall. The recommended date is October 27 (closest Sunday to UN Day, Oct 24) and, again, this year's UN Sunday theme is Equity in Action: Gender in an Intersecting World.

Here are the minutes from the May Envoy Check-in conference call. Due to UUA General Assembly there will be no Envoy call in June. Our next regular call will be in July - please RSVP here.

In faith, love, hope, and justice,

Allison Hess

International Engagement Associate

Proudly announcing 2019 UU-UNO Blue Ribbon Congregations

The UU-UNO is proud to announce the following congregations who have achieved 2017-2018 Blue Ribbon status. Congratulations! Congregations in Canada were recognized a few weeks ago during the Canadian Unitarian Council's General Meeting. Congregations in the U.S. will be honored during the International Reception at the Unitarian Universalist Association's General Assembly in Spokane, WA on June 22nd. To learn what it takes to be a Blue Ribbon Congregation, take a look at our website.
  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham (Birmingham, AL)
  • Monte Vista Unitarian Universalist Congregation (Montclair, CA)
  • Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (Thousand Oaks, CA)
  • Community Church Unitarian Universalist (New Orleans, LA)
  • The First Parish in Bedford, Unitarian Universalist (Bedford, MA)
  • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Salisbury (Salisbury, MD)
  • Glacier Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (Kalispell, MT)
  • Morristown Unitarian Fellowship (Morristown, NJ)
  • Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax (Halifax, NS)
  • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington (Huntington, NY)
  • All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church (Watertown, NY)
  • Kingston Unitarian Fellowship (Kingston, ON)
  • Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga (Mississauga, ON)
  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Olinda (Ruthven, ON)
  • Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Washington County (Hillsboro, OR)
  • First Unitarian Church of Portland (Portland, OR)
  • Unitarian Universalist Church of North Hatley (UU Estrie) (North Hatley, QC)
  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (Arlington, VA)
Members of Blue Ribbon Congregations are encouraged to come to the UUA's spot in the Exhibit Hall at GA and get a Blue Ribbon for their name badges! Click below to see Blue Ribbon Congregations over time!

Some recommended text to put in your congregation's newsletter.

Some of the world's most tragic humanitarian and situations have been ongoing for years and while the human costs continue, our media and attention have moved on. The Bangladesh camp for Rohingya refugees from Burma is now the largest in the world, with half a million children at risk of early marriage, child labor, or being trafficked on the black market. Yemen was in the news a few weeks ago when the U.S. Congress voted to end military assistance for the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen war... which President Trump promptly vetoed. Now the UN reports that "nowhere is safe in Yemen" as the country's war rages on and more civilians are killed every day by either armed clashes or the advancing famine. This is the work the United Nations agencies and programs spend their efforts on day in and day out. It is thankless and tragically underfunded work, and it needs all of the support Unitarian Universalists can give. Support includes following these issues when others have forgotten them and reminding others that there are serious global problems that the UN follows and does what it can to help.


Please complete the following tasks by the end of June.

  1. As the summer begins, take some time with your Envoy Team to reflect on the past year and set goals for the coming year. Start making plans and get them rolling this summer!

  2. Get your UN Sunday service on the calendar! If you'd like someone from the UU-UNO to speak at your congregation, be sure to invite us soon before our schedules fill up.
From left: Rob Kipp (Int'l Programs Administrator), Shreya Bhattacharya (Holdeen India Program Consultant), Bruce Knotts (United Nations Office Director), Allison Hess (Int'l Engagement Associate), Rev. Alicia Forde (Int'l Office Director), Derek Mitchell (Holdeen India Program Director), Rev. Dr. Diane Johnson (Retreat Facilitator)
A look behind, a look ahead

May 9: New Envoy Training Call.
May 11: CUC Annual General Meeting in Toronto, ON.
May 16-17: UU Holdeen India Program Advisory Board Meeting.

May 20-21: UUA International Staff Group retreat in Boston. (Photo above)
May 22: May Envoy Conference Calls.
May 27: UUA Offices closed in observance of Memorial Day.
June 1-5: UU-UNO Director Bruce Knotts in Taiwan to address the World League of Freedom and Democracy.
June 6: UU-UNO Summer Internships begin.
June 10: Allison's birthday!

June 19-23: UUA General Assembly in Spokane, WA.
June 20: World Refugee Day.


The following "Time to Act" suggestions for May 2019 will be related to the Fourth Sustainable Development Goal: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all - focusing on target 4.1 (By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.) SDG 4? WHY IT MATTERS!

  • Get involved in local school board matters: talk with members and leaders to ensure that all students are being equally resourced throughout the school district or even state. Especially in the United States, research has shown that a child's social class is one of the biggest predictors of their educational success. Consider what your congregation can do locally to engage this issue and decrease the opportunity gap. Here's some background info to help you get started:
  • Support the UU-UNO Every Child is Our Child program that helps students in Ghana who have been orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS to attend school!

Dear Envoys,

First let me acknowledge the work we are in together to create the Beloved Community around this one world we inhabit. Together we can make progress on all aspects of human rights and sustainable development.

I’m flying to Taiwan tomorrow night.  I have been going there to speak at meetings of the World League of Freedom and Democracy since 2015 as part of my duties as the chair of the Executive Committee which represents over 1,500 non-profit organizations associated with the United Nations Department of Global Communications.  On these visits I’ve met the former President of Taiwan and his Foreign Minister, the current Vice President and current Foreign Minister, members of the legislature of both parties, and religious leaders and activists. For four years, I have made speeches about how Taiwan should become the first nation in Asia to enact legislation grant marriage equality to all its citizens.  Last year, Christian religious groups called for a referendum to define marriage as only between one man and one woman.  I said that human rights should never be put to a vote, as the majority will often or always vote against the rights of a minority.  That speech received headline coverage.

Finally, Taiwan enacted marriage equality and I’m going to Taiwan to celebrate and to offer my advice never to retreat from this victory of freedom and democracy. 

Taiwan enjoys a much higher rating of freedom from Freedom House than the United States. 

Perhaps the main argument for keeping Taiwan separate from Mainland China is the high quality of freedom in Taiwan.  Taiwanese action to grant marriage equality exemplifies why Taiwan should remain a self-governing country and why Taiwan should not damage this new-won freedom.
It is rare to see hard work result in tangible success in one’s lifetime.  I am very gratified to have played a role in ensuring the happiness of the same-gender loving citizens in Taiwan.

This is but one area of our work at the Untied Nations and beyond.  We are grateful for your support, your ideas and your efforts working with us to bring about greater climate justice, greater equality, more compassion and high respect for human rights.  We can pause for a while to celebrate marriage equality in Taiwan. 

Thanks again for all you do.
Bruce Knotts
Director, UU United Nations Office


During our May Envoy Conference Calls, two Envoys (Joanne Dufour and Jerry Ross) spoke about their recent experiences attending conferences relating to nuclear disarmament. Two of the key take-aways for Jerry were that (1) the danger of a nuclear event with truly catastrophic consequences is very real and immediate, and (2) there are 2,000 organizations around the world working on this issue and there are things we can do right now in our own local communities to make a difference! Here are some ways to be involved with this issue:
  1. Educate yourself about the issues at stake! The UU-UNO has a bi-weekly disarmament blog called "Disarming Our Planet" which has an abundance of information on disarmament topics. Reading up will help you feel confident as you approach discussions.
  2. Focus your efforts! Instead of trying to address all these topics at once, join a campaign that's focused on a few specific goals. The Back from the Brink campaign proposes 5 steps to dramatically reduce U.S. risk of nuclear war, accident, terrorism, or etc.:
    1. Renounce any first use of nuclear weapons.
    2. End the authority of U.S. President to launch nuclear weapons without congressional authorization.
    3. Take nuclear weapons off of hair-trigger alert (where they have been since the Cold War!)
    4. Cancel plans to build up and "enhance" the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
    5. Actively pursue a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.
  3. Reach out to congressional representatives about disarmament bills! There are 6 bills in Congress right now that address these very ideas listed in point 2 above. Organize your congregation to call your representatives often, gather endorsements from local community leaders, and keep educating the public.
  4. Consider adopting an Action of Immediate Witness at UUA GA! Jerry Ross, from the Envoy Team at First Parish in Bedford, MA, is heading up an effort at GA in Spokane to adopt an AIW calling on the UUA to endorse the Back from the Brink Campaign and encourage all UUs to work on this. Jerry invites Envoys or others in your congregation to join the group working on this ahead of GA (even if you're not able to attend!) AIW details and contact info here.

June 19-23, 2019 - Spokane, WA

This year's UUA General Assembly will have several opportunities for global engagement! If you're coming, please note in particular: the UUA Board of Trustees is hosting webinars on what to expect. These webinars are for all, whether longtime participants or first-time GA newcomers; the Board will explain some of the changes adopted for this GA in Spokane!
Here are some of the International programs to look for at UUA General Assembly which we'll be involved with:

  • Workshop: "The Power of We in Global Unitarian/Universalism" Thursday, June 20 1:30 - 2:30 pm (U/U International Joint Working Group)
  • Workshop: "The International 'We': Connecting Youth Beyond Borders" Thursday, June 20 4:30 - 5:30 pm (UU Partner Church Council)

  • Workshop: "Achieving Our 6th Principle Goal of World Community" Thursday, June 20 4:30 - 5:30 pm (UUA Int'l Resources Office, UU-UNO, UU Holdeen India Program)
  • International Reception: "The Power of WE: Global Connections" Saturday, June 22 5:15 - 7:00 pm (UUA Int'l Office, with ICUU & UU Partner Church Council) RSVP at
If you haven't yet, please send me an email if you're going to GA this year so we can arrange an Envoy gathering! You can also find us in the UUA's spot in the Exhibit Hall.

Find more at

A Time of Crisis OR Opportunity?

By Jerry Ross, First Parish Bedford Envoy

It is often stated - incorrectly - that the Chinese character for "crisis" includes the symbols for both "danger" and "opportunity." While that may not literally be correct, the character does mean "a pivotal moment when things happen or change. The world is at such a juncture......

A Bit of History on War and the License to Kill

By Joanne Dufour, Disarmament Volunteer

While today we work towards eliminating the use of weapons of mass destruction in what is generally described as war, one wonders when and how did the notion of "war" and a solider's "right to kill" ever originate.......

First General Assembly of the UU Church of the Philippines

By UU Church of the Philippines

The recently concluded 64th Founding Anniversary and First General Assembly (formerly General Convention) of the UU Church of the Philippines was attended by representatives from 23 congregations.......

Incorporating Intersectionality Into Your Activism: Spring Seminar 2019

By Alisha Zou, Gender Equity Program Intern & Yasarina Almanzar, Racial Justice Intern

"Why do we talk about privilege?" Ericka Hart, the keynote speaker for the 2019 Intergenerational Spring Seminar probed the audience to examine their own biases.......

Keep yourself and your congregation informed about important news coming from the UN
Transgender rights - In a major win for transgender rights, the World Health Organization has removed so-called "gender identity disorder" from its official manual of diagnoses. UN experts called on States to "review their medical classifications and adopt strong proactive measures" to eliminate the social stigma associated with gender diversity.

Sexual exploitation and abuse at the UN - The office of the UN Secretary-General is taking steps towards stopping, preventing, and protecting sexual exploitation and abuse against UN personnel, including civilian and uniformed personnel from peacekeeping operations, agencies, funds, and programs. This includes issuing quarterly reports, providing mandatory training sessions, community-based complaint mechanisms for humanitarian & peacekeeping operations, and many more.

Climate resilience - The havoc caused by cyclones Idai and Kenneth across Mozambique is a "wake-up call" for vulnerable countries to build resistance against further high-impact tropical storms, coastal flooding, and intense rainfall linked to climate change. The World Meteorological Organization made several disaster-risk-reduction recommendations on a recent fact-finding mission in Mozambique.

Clean energy & development - A new UN-backed clean energy initiative in southeastern Africa looks set to kickstart sustainable development within a matter of months for the benefit of thousands of people relocated to the area following the devastating rains of 2015.
This work is made possible by the generosity of member congregations and individual donors.

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