Social Justice at All Souls

All Souls has a long history and proud tradition of working for social justice and fighting against oppression of all kinds.

Our congregation has been working for more than a century to make our city a more just and compassionate community through direct public service. All Souls is also called to action on issues of national and international concern. All Souls’ tradition of public witness here in the nation’s capital dates back to standing against slavery, and continues to this day.

We welcome everyone to be a part of the social justice ministry of All Souls. This page provides more information on our activities and how to get involved.

Contact Rev. Susan Newman, Interim Associate Minister for Congregational Life and Social Justice (snewman@allsouls.ws; 202-332-5266 ext. 106) for more information.

Groups/Ministries

Guidelines for external organizations interested in applying for a Beckner Fund grant.

We educate, inspire, and create opportunities for the All Souls community to lead more environmentally sustainable, just, and spirit-filled lives. Environmental Justice: Activities and issues include greening our church, zero-trash lunches, fair-trade sales, a green & healthy Thanksgiving collection, Earth Day, ethical eating, and fun outings and socials. We always seek volunteers for activities and leadership roles.

We honor the legacy of A. Powell Davies, All Souls’ senior minister from 1944 to 1957, by keeping his name and works before the congregation. Using interest drawn on the endowment, we support groups and activities such as the KUUMBA Players, various musical groups, and programming around the Hiroshima Children's Drawings (our focus over the past five years). The committee has six members whose three-year terms rotate.

A non-profit corporation composed of All Souls members, ASHC seeks to build a healthy, diverse community in our neighborhoods by developing and maintaining affordable housing and services to residents. In 1971, as Change-All Souls Housing Corporation, we helped build Columbia Heights Village on 14th Street, for which we have continuing responsibility. We work with community partners to build and rehab affordable housing units, sponsor information forums, and advocate for the community.

Established in 1973 through a generous donation from Earl and Meta Beckner, the All Souls/Beckner Advancement Fund helps make the community around the church more cohesive, attractive, and forward-looking, while fostering human rights and dignity. The Fund supports efforts to advance social justice, distributing over $100,000 in grants annually. More information at www.all-souls.org/beckner.

We toll our historic 1822 Revere Foundry “Abolition” Bell, which has served our community for 190 years. We mix the joys and sorrows of the world by pealing the bell for several minutes, pausing for two minutes to wind the weights on our bell tower clock to keep it running, and then tolling the bell in memory of all the deaths in current wars. After training, volunteers are given access to a Google calendar to sign up for open slots.

We express our commitment to building a Beloved Community by welcoming all immigrants and English-language learners in the DC area who wish to improve their speaking and listening skills. The program focuses on conversation and pronunciation rather than grammar; provides training and ongoing support by an ESL education expert; has a high teacher/tutor–to-student ratio; schedules classes on Sunday outside of the work week; and shares information from other DC-based agencies.

Following UU principles (especially the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 6th principles), we work to rectify imbalances of power in trading relationships by offering coffee, tea, cocoa products, and olive oil for which the growers receive a fair price (above the market standard), allowing them to send their children to school instead of work and to establish clinics. And virtually all of our merchandise is organic (add the 7th principle!). Buy them, enjoy them, and consider helping to sell them.

In 1948, inspired by the sermons of the Rev. A. Powell Davies, children at All Souls collected school supplies to send to Hiroshima, Japan. In appreciation, the school children in Hiroshima created original works of art, which they sent back to All Souls as gifts. The HCD Committee shares this transformative story as part of All Souls’ peace and reconciliation initiative.

We cook good food and serve it with love, aiming to accommodate diverse diets with menus that appeal to a variety of tastes. As part of our green commitment, we support zero-trash lunches and composting; although there is typically a small charge for lunch, we provide free meals to guests and low-income congregants. We seek individuals or groups to chef, prepare, serve, and clean up. You can sign up for just one Sunday, but many volunteers enjoy it so much they become regulars.

We are devoted to making DC a just city for each and every soul who calls it their home. In partnership with over 50 local congregations and service organizations from every ward in the city, WIN organizes to honor and respect our city's theological, racial, and economic diversity. Current issues: criminal justice, affordable housing, jobs for DC residents, and housing for homeless youth. We invite everyone to our open meetings and citywide actions.

Since the Supreme Court's ruling in June 2013 eviscerating the Voting Rights Act, states such as North Carolina have passed legislation that restricts voting access for students, immigrants, the working poor, people of color, and the formerly incarcerated. We kicked off our campaign in August 2013, on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and joined UUs from around the country at the Moral March on Raleigh in February 2014.