At last week’s committee meeting for UU Prison Ministries I was asked, “Why do incarcerated people attend Unitarian Universalists services and classes? I stumbled through an answer. Today, I have more coherent answer: because of our 7 principles and sources.
Large institutions, especially prisons and jails are inherently dehumanizing. While residents of prisons may attend UU services or class initially just to check us out or to make “brownie points” for the day of parole; they stay because of the Unitarian Universalists covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person, our first principle. For many of the incarcerated, this is a new concept and they stay to hear more. They also watch to see if we interact with them and others with justice, equity, and compassion. As they continue to attend classes and services they begin to see that we affirm and promote “Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth (our third principle).
I could keep writing and elucidate each UU principle and source, but I think you get the idea.
Many of the incarcerated witness our Prison Ministries team sharing our UU principles and sources in conventional relationships; something they have never before experienced. In short, they see us walking on the side of love, and they want to walk with us.