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Social Justice
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the Unitarian Church of Staten Island The Rev. Darrell Berger, Minister
312 Fillmore Street
Staten Island, NY 10301
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Social Justice

Mission Statement

The Social Justice committee of the Unitarian Church of Staten Island, grounded in our UU principles, is committed to making our church a force for positive social change in our community and in society at large. We advocate for peace, justice, compassion and caring. We encourage all church members to be engaged, through their deeds and generosity, in issues of local, national and global concern, and to develop action plans in areas of particular interest to them. We provide a forum for a wide range of ideas on issues of concern. We ask church members and friends to actively participate in educational programs on important social issues. We work with UU churches, other religious congregations, civic, labor and social service organizations and all groups that are seeking to build a more peaceful, just and caring society.

Take Action, Become Involved. The Social Justice Committee Needs You!

Criminal Justice • Domestic Abuse • Environmental Justice

Health Care • Housing/Homelessness • Human Rights • Hunger • Immigration Reform

Just Wages • Labor Rights • Poverty • Racial Justice

Social Justice is at the core of all Unitarian Universalist Congregations. We are called to put our faith into action to build a world that is just, peaceful and sustainable.

We meet on the third Wednesday of every month at 7:00 pm in the Church Library. All Church members and friends are welcome. Upcoming Committee Meetings 2015: September 23, October 28, November 25, December 23

The UCSI Social Justice Committee Program of Social Action

Service and Giving:

The purpose of social service is to meet the needs of persons in distress. For examples, by sheltering the homeless, collecting money, donating food or clothing. Often social justice service is done in partnership with those being served and/or supporting or partnering with other organizations.


The purpose of social education is to teach people about the importance of a social issue. The goal is to inform people about the aspects of the issue and also interpret the issue within the context of liberal religious values. For example, through reading groups, speakers, discussion groups, worship services and sermons.


The purpose of social witness is to make public by word or deed the convictions of an individual or organization regarding a particular issue. Examples: Participating in demonstrations, vigils, and marches, writing letters, passing



The purpose of advocacy is to work through the legislative process in order to impact public policy, as well as to contact officials in a variety of other social institutions that deal with the public in order to alter their policies the affect them.


Past Events Sponsored by the Social Justice Committee


Sunday, August 9, 2015

70th Anniversary Hiroshima/Nagasaki Honoring the Hibakusha


Sally Jones, of the UCSI Social Justice Committee and Peace Action, has been organizing these annual commemorations of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the UCSI for many years.

This year the commemoration featured several components.

In the UCSI Fellowship Hall, learning stations told about the history of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, during the final stage of the Second World War. TheYoung Musicians of Staten Island performed a classical music concert in the Sanctuary and in the Memorial Garden, various people read the testimonies of the Hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombing, in a touching and chilling reminder of the horrors of atomic warfare.


In the Fellowship Hall, NY1 was there to cover the action.



In the Sanctuary, Young Musicians of Staten Island performed classical music for violin and piano.
In the Memorial Garden, Sally Jones calls on the attendees to maintain their activism and support for nuclear nonproliferation.



Christine Dixon reads the testimony of Sachiko Masuoka, a young woman of 18 when the bombs exploded. Ms. Masuoka was a guest at the 2009 Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemoration at the UCSI.

Photos by Ruth Benson

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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Premiere Staten Island Screening of the award-winning film, ARISE, narrated by Daryl Hannah.



A film that captures the portraits and stories of extraordinary women around the world who are coming together to heal the injustices against the earth, weaves together poetry, music, art and stunning scenery to create a hopeful and collective story that inspires us to work for the earth.

This event is part of the Greenbelt’s Women Greening the Globe Series, which includes a series of free events that celebrate women’s inspiring efforts towards creating sustainable communities.

Saturday, March 7 at 2:00 p.m.
Unitarian Church of Staten Island
312 Fillmore Street, SI, NY

For more information about the about the Women Greening the Globe Series and Symposium please visit

This event is sponsored by the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Church of Staten Island

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Halloween Costume Extravaganza, October 31, 2014

Fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders fighting Ebola



The Social Justice Committee of the UCSI is teaming up with Deep Tanks Studio and a diverse group of artists and performers to bring you a Costume Party you won’t soon forget, on Halloween night, October 31, 20014 at the Fellowship Hall of the Unitarian Church of Staten Island, 312 Fillmore Street, from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. Admission is open to the public: $10 includes a drink ticket & finger food.

All proceeds will benefit Doctors Without Borders in their heroic efforts to battle the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Other partners in this fundraising event include Deep Tanks Butoh, Aspect Ration Film Fest (ARFF), ISLA, Staten Island OutLoud, Day de Dada, visual designer Ollie Oxen as well as the Art of Keri Sheheen. These artists and organizations will throw an entertaining and chilling evening of sculptures, performance art, live music, film screenings, costume contest with prizes, photographed by Kristopher Johnson Photo Booth and dancing.


March 19, 2014

Abraham's Table Discussion and Forum Series: "The Role of Interfaith in Peace Building"

The speakers, from left to right: Imam Ibrahim Sayar, Director Interfaith Affairs at Peace Islands Institute,

Reverend Darrell Berger of the Unitarian Church of Staten Island, and Rabbi Michael Howald

of Temple Israel Reform Congregation of Staten Island

This event was organized by the Turkish Cultural Center of Staten Island and co-sponsored by Peace Islands Institute and the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Church of Staten Island. Three speakers, each a representative of one of the three Abrahamic religions; Judaism, Islam and Christianity, will focus on the importance of bringing people together to build bridges of long lasting friendship that will contribute to peace and harmony in society. This is an occasion to appreciate the commonalities and respect differences as peace builders. This was a free and open forum.

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August 4, 2013

Nuclear Abolition Roundtable

The UCSI Social Justice Committee and Peace Action of Staten Island marked the 68th annual commemoration of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with an imagined round table discussion on the future of nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Abolition Round Table was staged as a television studio taping bringing together the views of nuclear abolitionist Helen Caldicott, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Nelson Mandela, a nuclear weapons lobbyist, a student, a representative from a nuclear state.


Audience questions

Panelist responds


"Colin Powell", student Devlin Grewal, and

"Dr. Helen Caldicott"


Moderator, "Nelson Mandela", "Pakistani politician" and nuclear industry representative, "Ben Profitin"




Each year the UCSI Social Justice Committee commemorates the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This year the committee opened the presentation with a film about nuclear proliferation and followed it with a panel discussion on the pros and cons of nuclear issues. Please remember that we mark this anniversary every August and join us in 2014.


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May 5, 2013 (Cinco de Mayo)

Border Nation: The Rise of the Immigration Enforcement Industrial Complex

Speakers:  Daniel Stein and Todd Miller

Presentation, Conversation and Light Lunch

Daniel Stein and Todd Miller discussed their recent trip to the US/Mexico border. Resources to the Border Patrol and the militarized border enforcement apparatus have dramatically increased over the last 20 years. But the border hasn’t only stayed put on the U.S. southern boundary. It is all over the place: from the country’s boundaries to small gated communities, from the Super Bowl to Native American Nations. Vast inequalities and disparities between peoples, and the walls used to separate them, have become both profitable and logical to a burgeoning Homeland Security market. Fundamental to understanding today’s immigration debate is that the United States has become a Border Patrol Nation.

The Speakers:

Todd Miller has written and researched U.S.-Mexico border issues for more than 10 years. He has worked on both sides of the border for NACLA, Witness for Peace, and BorderLinks, and writes for the NACLA blog Border Wars. His book project, Border Patrol Nation (City Lights Books), seeks to examine the powerful industry and mentality that the increasing armed, uniformed presence on the boundary has produced throughout the country, and the powerful, yet often unnoticed, impacts it has on national life and debate.

Daniel C. Stein grew up on Staten Island and has spent time in Latin America both studying and travelling. Through multiple trips to Mexico and throughout Central America he has developed an understanding and interest in the effects of US foreign policy on Latin America. As part of this book project, he seeks to better understand the reach of US foreign and military policy at home.

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March 18, 2013

They Take Our Jobs by Aviva Chomsky—A Book Discussion

An indispensable guide to the current debate on immigration. If you are at all uncertain about how to deal with anti-immigrant arguments, you will find Chomsky's book a perfect response. She makes her points with clarity and uses unassailable evidence while offering constructive short-and long-term solutions. —Howard Zinn

The book may be purchased at Beacon Press



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UCSI Members with the Traveling Peace Pole, May 22

October 2, 2012

Peace Pole Dedication:
An Interfaith Gathering
for Reflection and Hope

The members of the Unitarian Church of Staten Island, Building Bridges Coalition and members of the community joined together on a walk to dedicate the traveling Peace Pole. The journey began at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 53 St. Mark’s Place (Between Nicholas Street & Westervelt Avenue) then went to the Al-Ihsan Mosque, 406 St. Mark’s Place, continuing on foot to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.


August 7, 2011

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Retelling the Story in Word and Music, and a Walk


WaFoo ensemble performing in the Sanctuary: Yuuki Koike (Flute/Sax), Ippei Ichimaru (Sashin/Percussion) and Kazuo Nakamura (Bass)


On August 6 and 9, 1945, the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by two nuclear weapons dropped by the United States. Within four months, 166,000 were dead in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki, killed by burns, debris, radiation sickness and other effects of the bombs.


The story of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, sixty-six years ago, was retold in word and music on Staten Island, on Sunday, August 7 at the Unitarian Church of Staten Island. The program, part of the Arthur Foise Summer Forum, began with music by pianist David Jones and singer Jeannine Otis. It was also told in the music of WaFoo, an ensemble of musicians who blend Japanese and jazz art forms.  The ensemble performed two original pieces by bassist, Kazuo Nakamura.

Witness to Hiroshima

The story of one survivor's experience was told in a video, "Witness to Hiroshima" - a short 16 minute documentary film by Kathy Sloane, about Keiji Tsuchiya who uses 12 powerful watercolors to tell the story of his experiences in Hiroshima as a 17-year-old soldier immediately following the dropping of the atomic bomb. While the film addresses a horrific moment in history it emphasizes how Mr. Tsuchiya has directed his life toward purpose and healing through his lifelong commitments to advocating for atomic survivors and opposing nuclear weapons.

A Thousand Cranes

Mary Campbell and Kathy Santo enact the story of Sadako Sasaki, below  a collection of origami cranes.

Mary Campbell and Kathy Santo enacted  "Paper  Crane Journey; Carrying Sadako's Prayer", the true story of Sadako Sasaki, a young victim of the Hiroshima atomic bomb disaster. She was only two years old when the bomb fell and seemed to be unharmed, but at the age of twelve she was diagnosed with "radiation sickness", an aftermath of the bomb's effects. She takes an old story to heart: If a sick person folds a thousand origami cranes the gods will grant her wish and make her well again.

Sadako died on October 25, 1955. Her friends and classmates folded the remaining 356 cranes to make a thousand. They dreamed of building a monument to her and all the children who were killed by the atom bomb. In 1958 the statue was unveiled in Hiroshima Peace Park. Each year on August 6, the anniversary of the bombing, thousands of people bring paper cranes to adorn the statue.

Solemn Procession

Following the presentation, participants walked in a solemn procession, carrying messages of peace down to the Kill Van Kull waterfront for communal song and reflection, where they were met by White Feather Ancestral Teachers of Wisdom, Native American drummers.


White Feather Ancestral Teachers of Wisdom drumming











Since 1945, no nuclear weapon has been used in a war, and to make sure that they never will be again, commemorations have taken place around the world to retell the story and recommit humanity to a world of peace without nuclear weapons.  This commemoration was co-sponsored by the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Church of Staten Island and Peace Action of Staten Island.

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May 22, 2011

Peace Pole Installation: May Peace Prevail on Earth"


Procession with Peace Pole

The Unitarian Church of Staten Island, as a member of the Building Bridges Coalition, is participating in the traveling Peace Pole project conceived by Building Bridges. On Sunday, May 22, we installed it during our worship service with the help of our youth. This Peace Pole, with its message "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in many languages is a world-wide symbol of harmony, respect and cooperation between different cultures. It is traveling to 18 places of worship on its way to a permanent installation near the ferry terminal on September 11th. It was at the UCSI from May 22nd to June 4th.









Setting the Peace Pole


The Peace Pole Project was started in Japan by Masahisa Goi (1916 – 1980), who dedicated his life to spreading the message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth”. The dynamic musical trio, Brother Sun, played and sang during the service and held a concert that same evening at 7 p.m. (click on "music listen" on the Brother Sun web site and you can hear their beautiful melodies)


Brother Sun








Our children and youth played an important part in welcoming this symbol. In the beginning of the service the children and youth carried the Peace Pole to the front of the sanctuary to music by our special musical guests. During the chalice lighting, the Explorers class led the congregation in reciting Gandhi's prayer just as they do in class.



During the Words for All Ages, the children, youth and adults marked a map of Staten Island with small paper peace poles showing the location of 18 houses of worship that will host the Peace Pole. Each participant read a short description of each house of worship. The installation included The Peace Pole blessing, prayer and message by Rev. Susan Karlson.


For more information about the Peace Pole Project, go to:

For more information on past Social Justice events, click here for the archives.

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