Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Abbreviation UUSC
Formation May 1940
Type Non-profit human rights organization
Website www.uusc.org

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a non-profit, nonsectarian associate member organization of the Unitarian Universalist Association that works to provide disaster relief and promote human rights and social justice around the world.

UUSC was founded in May 1940 as the Unitarian Service Committee with the intended purpose of assisting European refugees endangered by Nazi persecution.[1] The founding director was Robert Dexter, who had served in a diplomatic role for the American Unitarian Association for more than a decade and had been moved, in particular, by the plight of refugees in Czechoslovakia, a country with a large Unitarian congregation.[2] The organization established an office in Lisbon and the first American Unitarians to be posted there were Rev. Waitstill Hastings Sharp, a minister of the Unitarian Church in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, and his wife Martha. Later, Rev. Charles Joy, Elisabeth Anthony Dexter and Noel Field were recruited to work in the organization's Lisbon and Marseille offices and they, along with many refugee volunteers, expanded the relief and emigration programs. The Sharps were posthumously honored by Israel in 2006 as the second and third Americans to be added to the list of Righteous among the Nations.[3]

The organization’s first board of directors was chaired by William Emerson, the former dean of the MIT School of Architecture. Other board members included Harold Hitz Burton, mayor of Cleveland, Ohio and a future Supreme Court justice; Percival Brundage, senior partner in the Price Waterhouse and future budget director for President Dwight D. Eisenhower; Louise Wright, chairwoman of the voters department of government and foreign policy for the League of Women Voters.[4]

Today, UUSC is active in coordinating relief efforts around the world and investigating reports of human rights abuses. UUSC has four program areas: Rights in Humanitarian Crisis, Economic Justice, Environmental Justice, and Civil Liberties. Its recent activities have focused on the conflict in Darfur, organizing volunteers to help survivors of the Gulf Coast hurricanes, workers' rights and the human right to water.[5] The organization is also active in lobbying corporations engaged in business with governments that it has identified as abusing basic human rights.[6]

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  1. Unitarian Service Committee Minutes, May 29, 1940, bms 16185, Box 1, Andover Harvard Theological Library
  2. Susan Elisabeth Subak, Rescue and Flight: American Relief Workers who Defied the Nazis, University of Nebraska Press, 2010, https://www.amazon.com/dp/0803225253
  3. http://www.washingtontimes.com/upi/20060915-011828-9433r.htm
  4. "The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee" Archived July 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., by Roger Fritts, February 9, 1997, Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church, Bethesda, Maryland
  5. "Unitarian Universalist Service Committee moves national HQ to Central Square" Archived May 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Wicked Local Cambridge, October 16, 2007
  6. "Activists pressure funds to drop Chinese stocks", by Ross Kerber, The Boston Globe, March 20, 2008
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