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.

Affirmed Justice Groups

First Unitarian Church currently has the following Affirmed Justice Groups meeting regularly and working towards justice in the community: Energy and Justice for All; Death with Dignity Action Group; and FEDS (Feed Every Deserving Soul).

Click here for more information on Affirmed Justice Groups and for further details on how to form an action group and request funding.

For more information and/or to join with others in these efforts contact: Rev. Erin Gingrich, Associate Minister of Social Justice ( or 244-8603 ext. 121).


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 and the Mental Health Issues team. Contact: Sally Boeckholt salgal23(at)yahoo(dot)com.

More about AMOS at

Second Basket Recipients

At the church’s Annual Meeting (first Sunday in June), members choose two non-profit organizations to receive the donations collected at services in the “second basket” (first basket donations go to church operations). Collections during the fiscal year (July – June) are divided equally between the two organizations. The non-profit organizations chosen at the 2014 Annual Meeting are:

Children & Family Urban Movement (CFUM):
CFUM’s mission is to create a community to support the potential of children, youth and families through educational success, healthy living and community engagement. This is carried out through after-school programs for children who reside in a near Des Moines North side neighborhood who are between the grades of K through 12.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland:
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s mission is to be a leader in providing accessible reproductive health care, education, and advocacy; responsive to the needs and rights of families and individuals.

Members of First Unitarian Church can nominate a non-profit organization by filling out a nomination form  and returning it by the 3rd Sunday in April. To download the nomination form, click here: Word DOC / Acrobat Reader PDF. Nominations approved by the Social Justice Council are submitted to the membership for a vote at the Annual Meeting.

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 Church also supports a local chapter of Interweave, a nationwide organization affiliated with the UUA. Interweave groups provide opportunities for GLBT UU's and straight allies to support each other, socialize and share life issues. They also reach out to the larger GLBT community to publicize the affirming religious alternative offered by Unitarian Universalism, as well as to work for social justice in the larger community.

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.