Social Justice

Social Justice Initiative

The Social Justice Ministry is the social justice initiative of The Universalist Church of West Hartford.  We undertake public advocacy and education in the church and local community at large.  To date, we have prioritized action in the areas of racial justice and justice and equality for women.  We collaborate with other groups within the church, with our minister, and with organizations in the larger community.

We have been meeting since 2015.  The content of this website describes our major activities since 2016.  Our work in 2015 focused on developing a definitional framework to communicate to the congregation what we meant by the term “social justice” in contrast to the term “social service”.  This framework is described in the following table “Social action has two arms:  service and justice”.

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Social Action has two arms: Service and Justice


Service     Justice
Service - Direct help such as food, clothing, shelter. Sometimes referred to as “charity”.   Justice – social change. Justice promotes social change in institutions or political structures.
Service responds to immediate needs.   Justice responds to long-term needs.
Service is directed at the effects of injustice, its symptoms.  Service addresses problems that already exist.  Otherwise put:  LOVE MOPS UP.   Justice is directed at the root causes of social problems.  Justice addresses the underlying structures or causes of these problems.  Otherwise put:  JUSTICE TRIES TO MAKE SURE THE MESS ISN’T MADE TO BEGIN WITH.
Service is the result of actions by individuals helping specific individuals.   Justice is public, collective actions.
Examples of service:  homeless shelters, food shelves, clothing drives, emergency services.   Examples of justice:  political action (rallies, vigils); legislative advocacy, changing policies and practices (systems)