Sunday, May 20, 2007

BAUUC Peacemaking group beginnings

When a few members or our church met in September 2006 first met for a Peace Making meeting, we agreed we wanted to take action for rather than talk peace to death. We are members of the Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church (BAUUC), Clear Lake/Houston, TX and UU members are known for discussing any topic – very thoroughly.

Several members have long been active in peace movements, attending rallies and holding signs over busy Houston freeways. They shared web sites focused on peace and we parceled out information to investigate. These included the Unitarian Universalist Associations Issue for Peacemaking and Code Pink. Our own BAUUC’s religious education program for youth completed a peace curriculum in 2006. Since Christmas was looming, we worked toward and held a peace gathering, community welcome, on December 10th Church youth were invited to participate with three of them having speaking parts for the vigil event. With snacks available to fuel peace-making activities, an assembly of about 60 people joined for sing-alongs and to read passages for peace.

People were given the opportunity to call out names of those they knew, that have been touched by the horrors of war. One of the Peacemaking group members created a emotionally moving and thought provoking slideshow of Iraq war images from the internet. Several people commented on how touched they were and some were even moved to tears. The leader of our Peacemaking group, Brenda Cockrell, stated, “ . . .it was an awesome experience.”

We met again in January and further outlined what we would like to accomplish as a group. Suggestions included showing relevant films at a progressive film forum held Thursday evenings at the church. We discussed finding a professional mediator who could address conflict resolution. Another member is making arrangements with a local mediator to schedule for a spring meeting.

On February 22nd our congregation sponsored a production of The Vagina Monologues with congregant members giving voice to this powerful, provocative drama. A flyer inside the program explains, “V-Day is a global movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of playwright/founder Eve Ensler’s awared winning play The Vagina Monologues.” V-Day is an organized response against violence toward women. All proceeds from the performance were given to Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a shelter for abused women. BAUUC received many calls following the performance, thanking us for making this available, giving testimony to the difference it made to many audience members. We are proud to be a congregation that is willing to make an uncomfortable decision, supporting an uncomfortable production, provoking uncomfortable realizations that we hope creates change within individuals and our community.

Suggestions at subsequent meetings include requesting a section of the church library for books and films related to peace. One member has been in contact with Diane Wilson, author of An Unreasonable Woman and founder of Code Pink toward inviting her to give a church sermon and weekend workshop regarding her work.

Our group keeps a calendar of peace-related events, both grassroots and organized, in the Houston community. For instance, individuals meet at busy freeway overpasses to display anti-war and peace-advocating signs. This may seem like a small action but it invites those trapped in Houston traffic to take a moment to consider their own position. Even a few, brave beeps assures others they are not alone and becomes a place of shared gathering. A local artistic, meditative chapel held a “Music for Peace” event in collaboration with Ebony opera singers. We leave flyers of these events on sanctuary chairs and, possibly, will list them on the church web site.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Houston Peace and Justice Center

Hi All! I'm Susan Brasseux, a supporter of the BAUUC Peace Group. I have not been able to attend the meetings yet but I will do what I can to help out. I'm also the head of the Library Committee and I can help you find materials, research, etc. if you like.

Here is a link to the Houston Peace and Justice Center site. It has news about peace related groups and activities in the Houston area. The Local Events Calendar is located on the left menu bar under Highlights.