Our Unitarian Universalist faith has always been based in an inclusive theology that challenged its members to embrace society’s marginalized members, a tradition that is alive and well here in our congregation. We seek to create a more just society with our active Social Justice Committee. These are a few of the ongoing projects we are involved with, and many more that occur throughout the year:
LIFE is an interfaith justice ministry seeking long-term solutions to systemic injustices that began in Lee County, and have grown to encompass the State of Florida. Each year, LIFE engages in a series of processes to
Our national Association encourages us to stay engaged with congregation-based community organizing. We are fortunate to receive funding from the Unitarian Universalist Funding Program in recognition of our commitment to interfaith justice organizing. Our congregation pays dues to LIFE each year, and our Minister, Rev. Allison Farnum, is on the Board of Directors. Through our involvement in LIFE, we are addressing injustice, building up the work of our church as well as interfaith community across theological, class, racial and ethnic dividing lines.
The Alliance for Fair Food is a network of students, activists, and people of faith who work in partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to improve sub-poverty wages, end modern-day slavery and human rights abuses in the fields. AFF brings the spiritual resources of diverse faith traditions and the moral weight of faith-based voices in society to our work in collaboration with farmworkers for justice in the fields. The members and Minister of UUCFM have supported the CIW by sponsoring the Farmworkers Caravan, participating in a hunger strike, and protesting in front of Publix for a “penny a pound” more for the tomato pickers. Opportunities for public witness and visits to Immokalee will be published in the UUCFM newsletters.
In 2008, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers, along with eight founding churches, founded this much needed community service. The pantry operates much like a grocery store, where recipients are able to choose the grocery items they need -- however recipients can only come every other week. The Pantry is located behind the Cypress Lake Presbyterian Church on Cypress Lakes Drive, and is open on Mondays.
The project designs and delivers family and reproductive health instruction and teacher training programs for indigenous, Latina, and farmworker women, youth, community leaders & educators in SW Florida and in Central America. Each year GRACE offers a work/study trip to Guatemala guided by the Director of the program, Genelle G. Grant, Ed.D., who has worked with indigenous and migrant farm worker families in Southwest Florida since 1993. Dr. Grant is a long-time member of the UUCFM.
The Project began in 1997 and grew through collaborations between the Lee County School District’s Migrant Education Program, the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking (FCAHT), the Florida Migrant Interstate Program at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers (UUCFM). You can learn more about the program, and the yearly work/study trip to Guatemala, by visiting www.thegraceproject.org.
The Holton Eco-Preserve (HEP) is a community outreach program of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers and incorporates approximately 5+ acres on the grounds of UUCFM. Our faith community has a green sanctuary designation, and is dedicated to living lightly on the earth, to creating and educating others on sustainable lifestyles/living, and to living in harmony with nature. The Holton Eco-Preserve is an example of putting principles into action as it offers many opportunities to commune with the beauty of nature (walking trails, natural habitat restoration, demonstrations gardens), to develop and expand educational programming and events for our congregation and our community, and is dedicated to helping people steward our earth. Learn more at www.holtonecopreserve.net and “like” our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HoltonEcoPreserve.
The Bill Brewer Family Gardens, new in September 2015, offers community gardeners educational opportunities and support on topics such as soil preparation, growing, harvesting, and environmental stewardship. Community and church members may buy their own plots and try organic gardening for themselves! More information is at www.uugardens.org.