I am so proud. My UU faith has created the prophetic #VoteLove and #DefeatHate campaign, and my congregation is really showing up in amazing strength to answer the call.
Twenty-six percent of my congregation is involved in Getting Out the Vote. Our congregation is a small one, with 53 members. And yet, 14 people got involved with UU the Vote within the first two weeks of our kickoff! I love that our name is Tapestry UU, because the idea of a tapestry seems like a perfect symbol for a community. I believe that UU congregations are called to honor the diverse threads that make up the living fabric of our congregations and the wider community.
Our congregation knows that weaving the fabric of community as a UU includes showing up when it matters. We have a long history of doing the work of serving with love.
We took the steps to become a Welcoming Congregation, and we are now working on renewal. We organized support for a family whose young child battled cancer—twice. We teamed up for a cancer research fundraiser at the family’s request that involved people having their hair shaved off. We mass assembled sack lunches for the homeless. We worked multiple 12-hour shifts at a refreshment stand in Houston’s major league football stadium to raise operating funds. In 2017 we were among the two-thirds of UU congregations that held a UU White Supremacy Teach-In. In a region hit by increasingly severe heat, hurricanes, and flooding, we committed to work for environmental justice with a focus on those at the margins.
Our leadership responded during the summer to a call to support forming a Texas Voting Justice Collaborative with a grant from UU Funding Program and local contributions.
When the congregation’s leadership invited me to be the UU the Vote representative for Tapestry UU Church of Houston, I knew we would have a devoted team.
At Tapestry’s first UU the Vote gathering, I was thrilled to learn that the seven attendees had already reached more than 1,000 people. They showed up to promote the vote with door hangers, voter registration, postcards, emails, phone and text banking, and voter information posters to high schools and businesses.
Since our first meeting two weeks ago, we grew to 14 members. Some joined Vote Forward’s Big Send letter-writing campaign. The worship team embraced and produced the UU the Vote Worship Service on September 27. We participated in the Hamilton the Musical letter writing event. We have donors for stamps and envelopes, and a COVID-19-compliant delivery plan. Some are donating to Ride Share, which drives people to the polls. Tapestry’s UU the Vote group is on track to touch more than 2,000 people to encourage them to vote.
The Texas Voting Justice Collaborative was officially launched in early September and within a few weeks had reached its initial goal, and upped its goal to a touch of 30,000 people. And our small but mighty congregation will cover nearly 8% of that goal while representing only 1% of the approximately 5,700 UUs in Texas! And I know we can do even more.
Here’s my challenge to all UUs: let’s get 20 people to sign the Vote Love Pledge and join UU the Vote’s Harvest the Power Week of Action, October 21-27,. Introverts and extroverts can unite to turn this challenge into a celebration.
And my challenge to other congregations is to get 20 members and friends, or 20%, whichever works for your congregation, to take the same actions. I believe that if such a high proportion of people in our small but mighty congregation can show up for voting justice, it can happen in other congregations, too!
Our actions are an essential part of overcoming voter suppression in the 2020 elections. Let us commit to boldly show up to get Souls to the Polls. Let us match the prophetic call to #VoteLove and #DefeatHate with equal commitment, and boldly weave the abundant and inclusive future that our faith helps us to envision.
Dana Fisher Ashrawi
Tapestry UU Church of Houston UU the Vote Coordinator