Social Justice

Join us as we counter white supremacy, fight climate change, protect voting rights, witness border injustices, and more.

All Souls is called to be a force for love and justice in our local community, our nation, and in our world. In all our social justice ministries, we strive to be effective, spiritually grounded, and accountable to the communities most impacted by oppression. We believe that social transformation and personal transformation are linked. If we want to change the world, we must be willing to change ourselves.

We welcome everyone to be part of the social justice ministry of All Souls. Below is a list of our groups and our guiding values. Contact Minister of Social Justice Rev. Rob Keithan (rkeithan@allsouls.ws; 202.517.1468) for more information and to get involved.

Racial Justice at All Souls

All Souls Racial Justice Work Overview

The Church subscribes to Eight Principles, including those expressed in the Principles of the Bylaws of the Unitarian Universalist Association: 

The 8th Principle:  journeying towards spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.

There are two Board-Charted groups with time-limited goals:

The Transformation Team is an ad hoc committee of the Board of Trustees tasked with holding the church’s vision of multicultural ministry and shepherding a transformation process to achieve that in a way that is healthy, lasting, and ever-growing. The Team is a structure for accountability that links the Board of Trustees as policy makers with the congregation’s input on institutional changes. The transformation process is comprehensive, influencing all aspects of what it means to be a covenantal worshiping, justice-seeking community. Members include: Pam Sparr, Co-Chair; Derek Robinson, Co-Chair Zach Morris, Merrie Dodson,  MJ Crom, Whitney Cooper, Carol Collins, Pamela Spratlen.

Security Committee: an ad hoc committee of Board, Staff, and lay leaders tasked (in April 2020)  with researching, engaging the congregation, and making recommendations on the church’s security policies. 

These is one ongoing, lay-led group focused on internal education and training:

8th Principle Task Force: The mission of our 8th Principle Task Force is to implement anti-racism tools and practices toward institutional cultural change that best supports “a journey toward spiritual wholeness by building a diverse, multicultural ‘Beloved Community that accountably dismantles racism and other oppressions” (as stated in the proposed 8th Principle for the Unitarian Universalist Association and adopted by All Souls). Members include: Paula Cole Jones, Co-Chair Tom Loke, Co-Chair: Noel Tiezen, Whitney Cooper, Alice Newberry, Brenda Barron

Nearly every other group in the social justice ministry focuses on race/racism in some way. Several have it as central to their mission, including:

Racial Justice Action is a new group dedicated to working externally and directly on racial justice issues, starting with defunding the police. 

The Beckner Advancement Fund Committee seeks to “ support the leadership and experiences of impacted communities as a means to achieve systemic change.” in addressing “structural racism and oppression.”

The Migrant Solidarity Team is dedicated to making our community, city, and country a safe and welcoming place for all people, regardless of immigration status.

The Reeb Project for Voting Rights is dedicated to increasing voter participation and ending voter suppression, particularly in communities with historically low voter participation and in partnership with organizations that center the leadership of people of color. 

The Green Souls, Housing Ministry, and Reproductive Justice Initiative also bring a racial justice lens to their work. 

How We Can Help Our Broader Community

The Foundation: Mutual Aid

One of the most direct ways to help our neighbors is to get involved in a Mutual Aid Network, which are active in neighborhoods and wards around the city. These grassroots efforts match needs and resources at the most local level. Click here to get involved with the Ward 1 Mutual Aid Network, which operates out of Pierce Hall at All Souls.  Currently, Mutual Aid is suspended until further notice. 

A Pantry for All Souls

All Souls is now home to a Little Free Pantry, where neighbors can pick up grocery goods (food, personal care supplies, cleaning supplies, etc.) that are placed into the pantry by neighbors who have a little extra to give. Visit the pantry on the 15th Street side of the church, between Girard and Harvard. If you need anything that’s there, go ahead and take it! If you’d like to donate to the pantry, you can do so by placing groceries directly into the cabinets. If you can’t make it to the pantry in person and would like to donate, or would like to volunteer to help the pantry without donating, or have any other questions, you can find more information here.

Other Ways to Volunteer In-Person

The Capital Area Food Bank urgently needs people to help sort, pack, and distribute food. Many safety precautions are in place to protect volunteers.

Help get meals to seniors through We are Family.

Children’s Hospital has a sign-up form for those willing to provide childcare for their medical staff while school is out.

Other Actions You Can Take from Home

Make relational calls with WIN. WIN activists have been making phone calls to neighbors, colleagues, friends, school principals, resident association presidents, and other “mayors of the block” to see how people are doing and what issues they are facing or hearing about. Use these guidelines for making calls and sample script. Use this response form to report what you’re hearing during your phone calls. You can call people you know, or email comms@windc-iaf.org for a list.

Sharing Your Financial Resources

To help with food, donate to Martha’s Table (the food bank closest to All Souls, which has locations and programs throughout DC).

Donate to the East of the River Mutual Aid Fund, created by DMV Black Lives Matter (a Beckner grantee) to support efforts led by and focused on people from Wards 7 and 8.

Support the Emergency Fund created by the Congregation Action Network (of which All Souls is a founding member) to support immigrant families in faith communities across the DMV who have lost their income due to COVID-19 and don’t qualify for local, state, or federal support.

Support one or more of the current grantees of the Beckner Advancement Fund (scroll down that page for the list and links to them).

For More Info

WIN’s list of Resources and Volunteer/Donation Needs

Have other ideas, questions, comments? Please reach out to Rev. Keithan (rkeithan@allsouls.ws).

Our Ministries

The Reeb Project for Voting Rights is dedicated to increasing voter participation. We work in solidarity with other UU congregations and progressive partner organizations that center the leadership of people of color, work in communities with historically low voter participation, and advocate for changes to oppressive voting laws. Since our launch in 2013 (at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington), we have called, met, registered, and mobilized thousands of voters in Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. We also support full representation and voting rights for the District of Columbia. Read more.

The Migrant Solidarity Team is dedicated to addressing the basic needs of migrants in our metropolitan area. Those needs include food security, stable housing, social connections to established communities, and support from local policy makers. To fulfill those goals, we meet monthly to:

  • Provide educational opportunities for the congregation concerning the condition of migrants,
  • Engage in strategic partnerships with external organizations that provide direct support for migrants,
  • Create opportunities for volunteers to provide food, temporary housing, or employment for migrants, and
  • Advocate for immigration and refugee policies that are consistent with our UU principles.

The Team meets on the first Sunday of every month at 9:00 am. All are welcome. Every contribution of time or treasure, no matter the size, is appreciated.

English as a Second Language. 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. Our ESL program focuses on conversation and pronunciation, has a high teacher/student ratio, and holds classes on Sundays from 1 to 3 pm, outside of the work week. We hold teacher training/orientation before each semester starts. In addition to volunteer teachers, we also appreciate volunteers who can help promote the program and recruit new students.

The Green Souls educate, inspire, and create opportunities for All Souls to lead more environmentally sustainable, just and spirit-filled lives through Environmental and Climate justice. Activities and issues include marches/rallies, adult spiritual development classes that explore ways to protect our planet, supporting DC divestment from fossil fuels, greening our church, ethical eating, Earth Day events, and more. 

The Reproductive Justice Initiative’s mission is to love, empower, respect, and care for cis-women and girls, and trans*/non-binary people in our church and greater community as they make their own choices about their bodies, their sexuality and child-bearing, and as they strive to raise children in safe, healthy, supportive communities. Since reproductive justice focuses on movement building, and how the intersection of people’s identities and lived experiences are impacted by systems of oppression or power dynamics that lead to reproductive oppression, we work closely with community groups that center the needs and leadership of impacted people. Read more here.

Working to create and protect affordable housing is one of the longest-standing priorities of All Souls Church. The Housing Ministry fights for affordable housing through established church groups, such as the All Souls Housing Corporation (a nonprofit that helped build Columbia Heights Village on 14th St) as well as by building partnerships with community groups like the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN). The ministry also works to educate itself, the congregation, and the larger community about the dynamics of affordability, development, gentrification, politics, and racism in Washington, DC.

Formed in 2015, the Haitian NGO Empowerment Committee is dedicated to working in Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The work focuses on organizing partnerships with other Unitarian Universalist organizations in order to support local Haitian NGOs in the development of their own community. In particular, we seek to find and develop technical assistance in the areas of proposal writing, fundraising, creation of promotional materials, recruit members, and organize trips to Haiti to promote sustainable development.

The Heiwa Peace Project carries out a ministry of peace and reconciliation through a series of unique programs and relationships dating back to 1947, when the children of All Souls and the students of Honkawa Elementary School (in Hiroshima) responded to the inhumanity of the atomic bombs through artwork now known as the Hiroshima Children’s Drawings. We also maintain a unique interfaith, multicultural partnership with the Japanese Buddhist Rissho Kosei-kai Hiroshima Dharma Center in order to promote peaceful cooperation in our time. Read more here.

Established in 1973 through a generous donation from Earl and Meta Beckner, the 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 internal and external efforts to advance social justice, distributing over $100,000 in grants annually. Read more.

Washington Interfaith Network . . .

Our Values

We seek to build a congregation, community, and world that truly reflects the values of Beloved Community. For this to happen, we must embody these values in everything we do. Our means must reflect our ends.

Therefore, in the All Souls Social Justice Ministry, we strive to be:

Counter-Oppressive and Accountable. We will dismantle systemic racism and other forms of oppression in ways that are accountable to the communities and groups most impacted.

Authentically Multicultural. Recognizing that there is rarely
a single “right” way to be or to do things, we must know how
to welcome, affirm, and work with different cultures and cultural expressions both within and beyond the congregation.

Intersectional. We view different issues/movements as important and interrelated—not in competition with each other.

Relational. We will foster deeper connections among people
in the congregation—including across generations—as well as helping participants develop genuine connections across differences with the people in the community that we partner with and/or serve. We will work with UU congregations, interfaith partners, and secular organizations.

Spiritually-grounded. We will be rooted in our
Unitarian Universalist faith and our theology of love.

Inclusive and Accessible. We will have multiple entry points,
a broad range of activities, minimal bureaucracy, and clear communication so that families and individuals of all ages can find easy and meaningful ways to be involved.

Focused yet Flexible. Our work will be concentrated enough to be effective, yet adaptable enough to respond to crises, disasters, and other events that call for an immediate action.

Effective. The ministry and all social justice activities will have clear goals, strategies, and metrics for making an impact on the root causes of system injustice, coupled with regular communication to the congregation about our successes and challenges. Building relationships and capacity for future work are recognized as key components of effectiveness.

Nourishing. We will make the work fun, meaningful, and energizing. It should help people find and follow their passion(s) for justice, whether that gets lived out within or beyond the congregation.

Nurturing of Leaders and Skills. We will identify new participants and leaders, build expertise, and help people find ways to serve that are right for them.

Sustainable. We will have the planning, determination, and resilience for the work to continue over time. No one wins when people burn out.