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Social Justice Empowerment Workshop

The Social Justice Empowerment workshop was created to assist congregations in developing effective social justice programs. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is no longer providing workshops for individual congregations, but if you are interested in helping to sponsor a cluster or district workshop, please contact socialjustice @

Purpose of a Workshop

The basic purpose of a social justice empowerment workshop is for members of a congregation to assess the quality of their social justice program. It is an opportunity for members of a congregation to consider what they are doing as an institution to create a more just and caring world. During the workshop participants reflect upon what they can do as a religious community to put their faith into practice.

A cluster workshop brings together congregational teams and equips participants with tools they can bring back to their congregations to support their justice ministries. Cluster workshops also allow congregations to strengthen their connections and support each other in their social justice work.

See the Take Action box to read about social justice award-winning and leading UU congregations that have used the Social Justice Empowerment Program to refocus and re-energize their congregational social justice ministries!

Format and Schedule

Workshops can be either one day long or one and a half days long, starting either on Friday night or Saturday morning. In the opening session introductions are made, goals are set for the program, and participants meet in small groups to discuss what they like about the current social justice program and what they would like to see improved. 

In the second part of the workshop participants consider four or five crucial issues which, if properly addressed, will lead to a more effective social justice program. The facilitators use a variety of methods to help people discuss these issues. At the end of this session, participants develop a plan for implementing the recommendations that come out of this process. 

Sometimes congregations want to learn more about democratic methods for choosing issues to form task groups around, and in those situations a group priority setting exercise is used. At the end of the workshop participants develop an action plan. The program closes with an evaluation of the workshop and a brief worship service.

Check out our list of supplies needed for a workshop.


Below is a list of elements and objectives that might be present in a weekend workshop, depending on your congregation’s particular needs.

  • Reflect and discuss how to help make your social justice program more spiritually grounded in Unitarian Universalist (UU) values.
  • Help you develop a vision of your congregation’s potential to be a strong social justice force in your community and then act on that vision.
  • Discuss and assess the current status of your congregation’s social justice program. This involves determining the strengths of the program and what needs to be improved.
  • Show you how to put your faith into action through service, education, witnessing, advocacy, and community organizing justice work.
  • Provide methods for how to integrate the social justice program into the larger life of your congregation including worship, religious education, and adult programming.
  • Encourage your congregation to take on timely projects that are grounded in UU values, tap the congregation’s talents, and are accountable to marginal members of the local community.
  • Help you strategize how to increase the number of people involved in the social justice program.
  • Celebrate your congregation’s social justice history.
  • Provide information about the resources of other UUA social change organizations, especially funding possibilities.

Leadership & Participation

A workshop is led by a team of one or two social justice facilitators. The facilitators have been chosen by the leaders of your district for their leadership skills and knowledge of social justice issues. They have been through an intensive six day training program with staff members of the UUA. 

To ensure a good turn out, the leadership of the congregation should vigorously recruit for the event. We ask that at least 20% of the average Sunday worship service attendees register for the workshop, and that attention is given to ensuring a diversity of participants (including in age). Attendance by the following members is particularly encouraged: the minister(s), at least half of the members of the Board, the Director of Religious Education, and members of the congregation's social justice or social action committee. 

Find out more about strategies for recruiting participants.

Getting Started

To express interest and apply for a cluster or district-level social justice empowerment workshop, please contact socialjustice @

You can also download the Social Justice Empowerment Handbook at any time. Each participant in a workshop gets a copy of the manual that they can keep as a resource. During the workshop participants will work with different sections of the manual.

For more information contact socialjustice @

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Monday, December 9, 2013.

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