Our congregation is committed to working toward social justice in our community and the world mission, as articulated in our mission:
We, the members of the First Parish of Watertown seek to honor our religious heritage by providing a spiritual home for reflection and growth in a diverse, intergenerational, caring community for all. We commit to being a force for social change by working with others in the larger community to promote justice, equity and compassion.
The Social Action Committee addresses social issues such as poverty, food and housing insecurity, racism, and immigration. The committee coordinates monthly designated offerings to support the work of community organizations. Recent offerings have benefited the Grow Clinic of Boston Medical Center, Helen Robinson Wright Fund, Massachusetts Climate Action Network (MCAN), Bikes Not Bombs, Sanctuary Boston, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), and the Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network (BIJAN).
In addition, other committees, groups, and classes address specific issues of climate justice, local charitable relief, multicultural and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) experiences, and LGBTQIA+ welcome.
First Parish Watertown held the inaugural Sue Kuder Memorial Lecture on Thursday, May 20, 2021 at 7:00 pm.
Beverly and Barbara Smith are founders of the Combahee River Collective. They discussed their early activism in the Civil Rights Movement; their work to build Black feminism; and their life-long commitment to social justice. A recording of the talk is available.
First Parish Watertown is part of a coalition of congregations committed to supporting and protecting a woman in sanctuary. Congressman Joaquin Castro has agreed to send a “Sign-On” letter to his colleagues in the House of Representative. The collective asks that anyone supportive of immigrants in sanctuary contact their US representative and request that they sign the letter.
Black Lives Matter
Because we know and affirm that Black Lives Matter, we participate in anti-racism work within our congregation and in our community.
Immigrants bring value to our community.
As a Welcoming Congregation, First Parish of Watertown is inclusive and expressive of the concerns of LGBTQIA+ persons at every level of congregational life.
Through the Helen Robinson Wright Charitable Fund, First Parish of Watertown supports local individuals with requests for a broad range of assistance: housing, food, heating, electricity, medicine, and transportation.
Since 2019, the Wright Fund has partnered with the Wayside Youth and Family Support Network through a block grant supporting the work of Watertown’s Social Service Resource Representative.
Watertown Walks for Peace
First Parish of Watertown joins annually with other organizations to represent Watertown in the Annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace to support the work of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute.
Socially Responsible Investing
As part of our congregation’s commitment to social justice, our Trustees work with Boston Common Asset Management, a Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) firm to manage our endowment funds.
Our endowments and charitable fund assets are invested in companies meeting strict standards for sound governance and responsible financial management, as well as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria, using innovative approaches to the environmental and social challenges their industries face.
In addition to applying SRI principles to select stocks, the firm is an “active investor,” with a team dedicated to Sustainability & Shareholder Engagement actions to proactively promote social change.
In collaboration with other stakeholders, the firm engages directly with companies to address a wide variety of social issues, including Child Labor, Climate Change, Human Rights, Sustainable Agriculture, and Workplace Safety.
Social Justice Partners
World in Watertown
The World in Watertown is Watertown’s human rights group that works to protect and promote non-discriminatory practices.
The group meets monthly at our church on the first Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
The World in Watertown has sponsored a number of programs over the years, including:
Most recently, the group sponsored an effort to establish Watertown as a “No Place for Hate” community.
We want to celebrate cultural differences, and advocate fair and equal treatment of all – “Diversity, Equality and Human Rights.”
Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice, and the Environment
UU Urban Ministry
Based in Roxbury, the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry (UUUM) is a social justice organization with programs focused on survivors of domestic violence, youth education, and amplifying local artists and historians of color. Three members of the FPW Social Action Committee serve as delegates to the UUUM.
Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence
Since its formation in January 2013 after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence has worked to address gun violence in its many forms, whether suicide, homicide or accident. As an umbrella organization, the Coalition brings together faith communities, civic organizations and institutions across Massachusetts to address the epidemic of gun violence that plagues our communities. First Parish of Watertown became a member of the Coalition by a vote of the congregation in November 2017.
Using the people-power of its member organizations, the Coalition was successful in getting two landmark bills passed in Massachusetts – comprehensive gun legislation in 2014, and the Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO, or “red flag”) law in 2018. Current work includes Supporting and promoting primary prevention initiatives, since gun violence often has roots in economic disparity.
In conjunction with the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston, we sponsor an annual benefit concert held at First Parish.
In recent years, this concert has been held to benefit our own Charitable Fund: The Helen Robinson Wright Charitable Fund.