Social Justice

"...Church social action is not a small band of marginal activists in the church, rather, it is a congregational process of coming to terms with the mission of our religious community in a society that sometimes confuses the separation of church and state with the divorce of religion and public policy..."  -- Rev. Richard S. Gilbert, The Prophetic Imperative

Social Justice at First Unitarian

At First Unitarian of Des Moines, we are committed to the Unitarian Universalist theology of engagement to help heal the brokenness in our larger community and world. Our commitment to social justice is evident in the seven core principles UUs covenant to affirm and promote.

From its early beginnings in 1877 to today, First Unitarian Church’s members and friends have taken on many social justice causes -- from women’s suffrage, to civil rights, to same-sex marriage.  Click here to learn more about our Roots in Social Justice.

Outreach Partners

Beginning in July 2015, we shifted the focus of our weekly offering to the social justice outreach of the church. Instead of a "Second Basket", there is one offertory basket in which all proceeds collected are split between the social justice outreach of the church and a specific organization. Congregant(s) may nominate an organization to receive half of the offering plate donations from First Unitarian for the 2 months the organization is designated. In addition, the nominator is asked to develop at least two volunteer opportunities for 10 or more people (or the equivalent, such as four opportunities for five people) with the organization. More details can be found on Faith in Action web page.

To learn more about our current Community Outreach Partner, click here.
To learn more about our past Community Outreach Partners, click here.

The deadline for applications for the Fall 2016-Summer 2017 year is May 15, 2016.

Welcoming Congregation

First Unitarian Church is a Welcoming Congregation. This means the congregation has taken deliberate steps, as outlined by the Unitarian Universalist Association, to become more inclusive of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender (GLBT) people. The congregation works to address the needs of GLBT persons at every level of congregational life, welcoming not only their presence, but also the particular gifts they bring.

First Unitarian's all-gender bathroom is located on the main floor. My Door Sign provides inclusive restroom signage for businesses and organizations who wish to make bathrooms inclusive and safe for all individuals. Click here to learn more.


First Unitarian Church of Des Moines has joined with 27 other faith-based institutions and NAMI Greater Des Moines, to develop AMOS, a local IAF (Industrial Area Foundation) affiliate. Together, we have hired a social organizer who helps AMOS members develop more effective leadership for social change. First Unitarian's AMOS members are active in the organization's efforts, including Project Iowa - the Workforce Development Program, Healthcare Issue Team, the Mental Health Issues team, and the Juvenile Justice Issue Team.

 More about AMOS at

Issue Teams

First Unitarian Church currently has the following Issue Teams meeting regularly and working towards justice in the community: Energy and Justice for All; Death with Dignity Action Group; FEDS (Feed Every Deserving Soul), Anti-Racist Collaborative (ARC) of Des Moines, Days for Girls, and AMOS (see above). 

Click here for more information on Issue Teams and for further details on how to form an Issue Team.

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a nonsectarian organization that advances human rights and social justice in the United States and around the world. They offer campaigns in which our church may participate. Learn more at

Peace Pole

An eight-foot pole, bearing message of peace in eight languages, stands on First Unitarian grounds. Erected by several of our members, the Peace Pole stands for an international commitment to peace, and is on display in locations around the world.