There’s so much going on that it’s hard to keep track, so here’s quick summary of a few of All Souls’ social justice projects.
The church’s four priority areas are:
Housing. Through the All Souls Housing Taskforce and the All Souls–Washington Interfaith Network (WIN), the church works on socioeconomic issues in Ward 1 and throughout the city. The Housing Taskforce fights for affordable housing through established church groups, such as the All Souls Housing Corporation, as well as by building partnerships with community groups, such as Habitat for Humanity. The Taskforce also educates itself and the congregation about the demographics of the church and its neighborhood. All Souls–WIN participates in the WIN Neighborhood Investment Fund and joins 40 other WIN congregations in this citywide network to organize communities on an array of issues.
Environmental justice. The Green Souls/Seventh Principle Committee’s mission is to educate, inspire, and organize members of the church to lead more environmentally sustainable, just, and spirit-filled lives, individually and collectively. Working to decrease our internal environmental footprint and create a greener, healthier DC, the group successfully guided the church through the Green Sanctuary application and sponsors trash-free Sundays, fair-trade product sales, recycling of church bulletins and other paper, and children's programs in cooperation with the Religious Education Committee.
Peace. In 1948, inspired by the sermons of the Rev. A. Powell Davies, children at All Souls collected school supplies to send to Hiroshima, Japan. In appreciation, the school children in Hiroshima created original works of art, which they sent back to All Souls as gifts.The Hiroshima Children’s Drawings Committee(HCD) shares the transformative story of the drawings as part of ASC’s peace and reconciliation initiative. Major activities include sponsoring visitors from as far away as Japan to learn about the drawings; sharing the story with other congregations through a traveling docents program; arranging traveling exhibitions; and building relationships with Japanese and other U.S. partners in peace activities. HCD is sponsoring the 30 member multigenerational Heiwa Peace Pilgrimage to Hiroshima in August 2014.
Immigration.We run an ESL program for our immigrant neighbors nearly every Sunday during the church year, and we work with various local and national community partners to support immigrant rights, an end to deportations, and cultural flourishing of our local immigrant communities.
We also have:
Voting Rights Project. Since the Supreme Court's ruling in June 2013 eviscerating the Voting Rights Act, states such as North Carolina have passed legislation that restricts voting access for students, immigrants, the working poor, people of color, and the formerly incarcerated. Make no mistake about it-this is Jim Crow in a new guise. Voter suppression represents a deliberate attempt on the part of a white establishment that can no longer win elections in which all Americans vote to retain power by making sure only some Americans vote. For All Souls, this issue is personal. In 1965, our former associate minister, the Rev. James Reeb, was beaten to death in Selma, Alabama, as he marched for voting rights. His death prompted President Johnson to introduce the Voting Rights Act to Congress 49 years ago. We are embarking on a multi-year voting rights project that kicked off with over 200 members traveling to Raleigh, NC to participate in the Mass Moral March on February 8, 2014. Join us!
Beckner Committee. This endowment gives away nearly $100,000 each year to Ward 1 organizations and to our own social justice endeavors.
New Orleans Ministry. Every spring since Katrina, the church has sent intergenerational groups on service trips to assist New Orleaners as they rebuild their unique, priceless American city. The group also organizes fundraisers throughout the year, often concerts at the church with distinguished New Orleans jazz musicians.
Thanksgiving collection. Every year, the church assembles over 500 dinners for those in need.
KUUMBA Players. This group addresses a variety of social justice issues through theater arts, presenting ongoing programs and an annual spring production.
Rev. Rob Keithan (aka, “RK”) is the half-time Minister for Social Justice Ministry at All Souls, meaning that he supports the church’s many issue groups and works to bring effectiveness and spiritual depth to the social justice ministry overall. In his other consulting, RK specializes in reproductive health, rights and justice, intercultural communication, and congregational social justice programs. He recently worked as a consultant on faith engagement with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Director of Public Policy at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and Director of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations Washington Office. RK lives with his wife and their daughter in Washington, DC. He is half-time and typically works Tuesdays, Wednesdays, at least two Sundays a month, and other times as needed.