Social Justice History

From women’s suffrage to marriage equality, Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church has a long history of working for justice.

In the 1950s, we hosted forums with Jewish- and African-Americans who testified to their experiences as victims of injustice, At the same time we were targets of McCarthyish witch-hunts.

In the 1960s, we were pivotal in the creation of the neighborhood advocacy group the Central North Side Neighborhood Council as a way of giving neighbors a powerful voice to make sure local service providers were providing appropriate, dignified housing and service to our increasingly blighted neighborhood.

In the 1980s we were the first church to open our doors to people living and dying with AIDS, including offering the sanctuary as a place to hold services when even funeral homes were refusing victims of the disease.

In the 1990s we successfully advocated for a local needle exchange program and worked on behalf of living wage legislation.

We have stood on the corner at W North & Resaca and held peace vigils for probably every war since the Korean, and possibly a few before that.

We were instrumental in establishing both North Side Common Ministries (1982) and the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network (1999), helping to build an interfaith safety network and an interfaith effort to address economic and social injustices through coalition building.

When the Central North Side neighborhood around us deteriorated and we were widely advised to either close or move to the suburbs, we remained fast.

Over the last 30 years ministers Jesse Cavileer, Art McDonald, and David McFarland have each worked actively in the community, served on community boards, and made sure the church had a place at the table and at the microphone when justice was on the line.

In the early 2000s we delivered free pumpkin and sweet potato pies to local food pantries and elderly neighbors each Thanksgiving.

In 2011 we launched a Share the Plate program that directs half of our Sunday cash offerings to justice partners doing vital work, and have given away almost $19,000 so far.

Today, we Stand on the Side of Love by walking in the Pittsburgh Pride March. We hold candlelight vigils and witness to lives lost to gun violence. We advocate for common-sense gun legislation. We support LGBTQ families by offering same sex ceremonies. We install CFL bulbs and build our own storm windows. We address the many needs of homeless and hungry neighbors in our midst. We organize with other local and statewide UU congregations to bring more justice, equity, and compassion to this world. And we are inspired to continue this work by the examples set by so many who have come before us and carried the flame of justice work at Allegheny.