Social Justice Council – June 2018

First Unitarian Church – Social Justice Council

Minutes of Meeting held on June 13, 2018

Attendance: Evan Freund, Marie Cobbs, Allan Lindrup, Kennie James, Ellen LaRue, Finley Campbell, and Core Mason

We commenced at 6:15 p.m. with a chalice lighting and opening words. Check-ins followed.

Give Away the Basket Selections for 2018-2019

Evan reported that the following organizations had been selected to be the Give Away the Basket recipients for 2018-2019: Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project (HPTHP), Families and Prisoners United, Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL), and the Chicago Religious Leadership Network (CRLN), which focuses on issues related to Central America.

Task Force and Group Reports

Green Sanctuary Group – Allan submitted an on-line report that all had seen. (See addendum)

Global Studies Group – Ellen reported that the group read and discussed Chapter 2 of Soviet Fate and Lost Alternatives. A full report was submitted online. (See addendum.)

Denominational Affiars Committee – Marie reported that CAUUC had its annual meeting on May 12. Margot Horn is now representing First Unitarian Church on the CAUUC Board. The issue of “Power, Race and Generation” was raised by our ministers in their annual report and might be the subject of a First Forum.

Criminal Justice Task Force – Evan reported that the task force reviewed the four police accountability Ordinances pending in the Chicago City Council and unanimously endorsed the GAPA proposal. The task force also endorsed a proposal under development before the Cook County Board that would prohibit blanket prohibitions by housing providers of individuals with a criminal record. On June 19 the task force is sponsoring a forum where a panel will address the different proposals related to the DOJ Consent Decree involving the Chicago Police Dept. Several bills related to returning citizens passed the IL General Assembly and are now awaiting the Governor’s signature or veto.

Racial Justice Task Force – Finley reported that the task force sponsored a multiracial unity outing to see the movie Seagull. It will sponsor a group that will read and discuss the book White Rage by Carol Anderson this summer.

New Business

There was some discussion about seeking input into the Capital Campaign’s plans for audiovisual equipment for the revised parlor.

We will hold a Retreat in August.

Calendaring is continuing in the church office, so groups should get their events on the calendar, either this coming Sunday or at least by the end of June.


There was a closing benediction, followed by adjournment at 7:50 p.m.

Minutes by Allan Lindrup, Secretary


Task Force Name: Green Sanctuary Group

Reporter’s name: Allan Lindrup

What has happened in your task force since our last SJC meeting? Members of the Green Sanctuary Group have attended community meetings in the East Side community (near the Calumet River) as allies as the community deals with manganese pollution and the need to find a location for dredgings from the Calumet River after the current Confined Disposal Facility (near the mouth of the Calumet River) is full and closed in 2021. Members of the Green Sanctuary Group met on June 3 to consider Richard Pardo’s proposals for changing how this congregation does recycling. We will be seeking an outside recycling firm, for which the congregation has budgeted, but inadequately. New recycling containers, plus education of staff and members, will follow, plus monitoring by Green Sanctuary Group members. We will also start collecting styrofoam (other than packing peanuts) for recycling, perhaps beginning in the fall, a service that may later be extended to the surrounding community. On Sunday, June 17, the Environmental Book Club members and friends will meet to discuss and decide on what book we will read and discuss starting next fall.

What is planned for your task force in the future? During the summer the Green Sanctuary Group will meet to develop its Action Plan for the 2018-2019 church year.

What do you need from the SJC? Depending on the costs for the new recycling system, the Green Sanctuary Group may request a SJC Special Collection during the upcoming church year.

Task Force Name: Global Studies Group

Reporter’s Name: Ellen LaRue

On 6/3/2018, a shortened discussion took place after the First Forum. The book is Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War, by Steven Cohen. It turns out this book is informative and thought-provoking. The discussion was on Chapter 2, “The Victims Return: Gulag Survivors Since Stalin”. Here follow some impressions recorded in notes by the discussion leader:

The book talks about soviet fate and lost alternatives. One reader always supported the idea of a workers state, and war is not pretty. The question is, was there an alternative. The comparison of Stalin to Hitler is not legitimate. The ideas of the Bolsheviks and Stalin were world revolution, but they decided to maintain it in the Soviet Union. The leadership saw it important to get rid of disagreements. It is a question whether all of the killing was necessary. The chapter looks at a variety of people in the gulags. Could there have been another war?

The survivors came back to a new modern Russia. Many (but not all) were given compensation. 900,000 were released, and some were put back into their old positions; they did various things. There are positive and negative sides relative to their treatment, but they came back

Three things to grasp about how the gulag survivors shaped what would come (p. 59)

  • There were massive numbers of “never againers”
  • They were the leadership for a new political reckoning with the past – both from the children and the grandchildren of gulag survivors.
  • A reckoning remains on Russia’s political agenda because…there is no statute of limitations for historical crimes…….”

The term “gulag” is being replaced by “march of millions” – those who fought in WWII. Everybody in Russia lost somebody during the war. Russia recovered and rebuilt after the war. The suffering of the gulags paid off.

“Russia will never be invaded again.” The gulag survivors came out alive and were integrated into the society. They became part of the discussion.

As long as the USSR survived, other wars were kept in place. There was a balance of terror. Now the international system of checks and balances is gone.

Next meeting: Sunday, 7/1/2018, after worship service.