Social Justice Council Terms of Reference
Approved by the Board of Directors, April 3, 2019
The purpose of the Social Justice Council is to facilitate the congregation in social justice initiatives by coordinating and supporting the leadership of social justice projects from KUF members, sustaining momentum and building capacity for action.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Social Justice Committee shall be a Standing Committee that reports to the KUF Board of Directors. It shall have at least four and no more than eight members. The Chair of the Committee shall be a Voting Member of KUF; other members may be Voting Members or Friends of KUF. The Minister, President and Board Liaison shall be ex-officio non-voting members of the Committee, with open invitation to meetings but without requirement of attendance.
Responsibilities include: Overall Coordination, Facilitation of Social Justice Issues, Education and leadership and Communication.
The Social Justice Council shall be responsible for:
- Developing and maintaining a vibrant SJC membership that co-ordinates, supports and endorses social justice actions and groups to address current issues and engage in new issues
- Guiding and facilitating the congregation in the selection of 1-2 areas of focus based on the values and principals of KUF and the social justice empowerment model (see appendix A)
- The Council will create an annual strategic action plan, ensuring the criteria for social justice action initiatives are rooted in the social justice empowerment principles of grounding, accountability, fit and opportunity.
- Coordinating with the Board liaison
Facilitation of Social Justice Initiatives
The SJC shall facilitate the social justice initiatives of KUF. Social justice initiatives may be led within the KUF congregation in one of two ways:
- Social Justice Action Groups may be initiated and lead by KUF congregation members.
- The Social Justice Committee may lead the KUF community in the development of a social justice initiative(s). Members of the congregation are encouraged to participate in this development.
In both cases, the following steps will be followed:
1 The group or committee shall define the issue they intend to address in clear and concise terms with a detailed action plan, which may be developed in collaboration with the KUF community with the SJC or may be created by members and presented to the SJC.
2 The SJC will assess these initiatives and make every reasonable effort to encourage them within the context of the capacity and principles of KUF. The SJC will discuss with the proponents:
- The purpose of the initiative, how it advances KUF’s principles and its implementation plan
- The energy and funds needed to implement the action and the capacity of the KUF community to provide either
- The grounding, accountability, fit and opportunity of the proposed initiative
- The positive and negative impacts of the proposed initiatives on existing social justice initiatives or KUF as a whole
- The sustainability of the initiative, if that is relevant
3 The SJC will confer, present the proposal to the Board of Directors, and, within eight weeks, will recommend that the initiative should be started, revised, postponed or may find the initiative not suitable for the context and capacity of KUF.
4 The SJC will also evaluate existing social justice actions/projects using clear criteria (see Appendix A) to assess how they might be better supported, implemented, merged or otherwise improved to maximize the effectiveness of social justice initiatives at KUF.
5 The concurrence of the SJC with a proposed initiative does not imply any financial or personnel support by KUF.
Education and leadership
- Providing educational opportunities for KUF members to increase knowledge of how to engage in the principles and values of social justice action
- Cultivating opportunities for social justice leadership development and training
- Partnering and collaborating with existing social justice action groups when possible
- Conducting and/or being involved in education forums/events for the congregation
- Communicating social justice work to the congregation and the community as broadly as possible
- Maintaining communication with members working on social justice initiatives
- Creating alliances and link with community social change groups and interfaith organizations
- Maintaining minutes of meeting held and reporting activities to the Board of Directors (monthly reports through the Board Liaison) including any changes in committee policy, new directions and initiatives that affect other committees.
- Identifying and drafting proposed policies for the KOG and with the Board
- Preparing and offering an annual focus talk on the Social Justice Council work
- Preparing an annual overall summary of KUF’s social justice work for the AGM
Limitations regarding Political Parties
Per CRA regulations, the Social Justice Committee or any person or group in a role of representing KUF, shall not sponsor or endorse any social action on behalf of a registered political party.
Membership of the Social Justice Council: Four to eight core members with leadership as defined below. Quorum shall be 50% of the members. All committee members shall be informed of meetings and issues on which the committee makes recommendations to the KUF Board of Directors.
Leadership Team: three members will be voted in by Council members for a one year term with option of a second year renewal;
- Chair: to facilitate the meetings; to provide leadership; to liaise with the congregation and the minister; to create the agenda and review minutes with the recorder; to oversee the budget and any activities as requested; check in with core members as required; to write and provide a report at the AGM on the year’s activities.
- Communicator: to ensure broad communication to KUF members and to the community, using website and social media as tools; to send communication to KUF Links about monthly activities of the SJC; to coordinate with KUF office staff;
- Recorder: to work with the Chair to develop the Agenda and send it out to members with additional information as required; to take minutes, review them with the Chair, and send them out to members in a timely fashion for review; when approved at the next meeting to send out final minutes to all members and to KUF office for upload to website;
One to five additional members will serve on the SJC. They will:
- Be actively involved with social justice to provide strategic direction
- Read the minutes, respond to issues in a timely way and complete any tasks as agreed to
- Attend 70% of the meetings
- Align with, understand and use consensus decision making
- Willingly support key decisions the rest of the Council makes if they are unable to attend the meeting (See Note below)
All members will be invited to renew their membership every two years for up to six years
- Minister: the minister of KUF will participate on the Council as a non-voting member when possible or if requested
- Board Liaison: The board of directors will appoint a liaison who will participate on the Council as a non-voting member and report directly to the Board
- All KUF members and friends are welcome to attend any meeting to observe
The SJC will set aside 15 minutes at the start of every meeting for any members or guests who wish to bring forward a Social Justice Initiative for the Council to consider
Consensus Based Decision making
The SJC members will use a consensus-based decision making model. Each member will read information provided by the Council and understand how to use a consensus decision-making process. **Note: Absent core members will have an opportunity to have input before the Council members make a decision but will then accept and support the decision.
Frequency of meetings; The meetings will be held monthly at KUF during the congregational year.
Guiding Principles to KUF’s Approach to Social Justice
Listed below are UU Principles and values that will guide KUF’s approach to social justice.
- UU Principles to guide Social Justice work
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Unitarian Universalist Values and Social Justice
We do this work because we believe in:
- Interconnectedness of all creation
- Underlying principle of universal love.
- In our First and Seventh Principles, calling us to be aware of how we are in the world and in relationship with others.
Doing justice work from a spiritually grounded place is beneficial because it:
- Sustains us personally and congregationally
- Provides vision and grounding
- Gives us courage to engage in transformative work
- Helps to frame our issues authentically and morally
- Reflects our most deeply held values and beliefs
- Increases our clarity and effectiveness
- Allows us to demonstrate that there is a plurality of beliefs that can come together for action.
Spiritually-Grounded, Transformative Congregation-Based Work
- Fosters personal spiritual growth and deepens collective spiritual understanding
- Provides a community space to authentically explore and address issues of systemic privilege and oppression
- Builds community and energy in the congregation—provides a vision and goal
- Mobilizes and inspires the congregation across generations
- Develops new leaders and skills
- Forms partnerships with other UU congregations, interfaith and secular groups
- Builds bridges across barriers of race, class, sexual orientation and other differences
- Creates partnerships between groups with systemic privilege and historically marginalized groups
- Helps people in need
- Changes culture and policy
- Raises the profile/presence of the congregation in the community
- Enables congregational growth and strengthens coalitions for justice
Note: For the time-being (2019-2020), KUF’s approach to social justice engagement will be grounded in the UUA’s Social Justice Empowerment Handbook (Feb 2011) and the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton, Ontario as summarized in their document, From 110 Good Ideas to 3 Three Action Projects,