About UU Young Adults for Climate Justice

Our mission is to grow a diverse network of Unitarian Universalist young adult activists grounded in faith, supported by each other and the UU community at large, and working together for climate justice.

Our vision is that our individual and collective actions catalyze the movement for a socially just, resilient, and sustainable future.

Our members are young adults, aged 18-35, who are climate justice activists with some connection to the Unitarian Universalist faith.

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Our History

UUYACJ was founded in 2012 by UU Ministry for Earth with the support of the UU Funding Program. In our first few years, we focused on building community through offering workshops at regional UU young adult gatherings and the annual Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly, which we have continued to do every year.

Our first network coordinator was Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom, followed by Curtis Murphy of Ontario (2013-2014), and Aly Tharp of Texas (September 2014 to present), who now serves as UUMFE Programs Director.

In fall 2014, UUYACJ adopted a unique and consensus-based model for directly-democratic decision making among members, and shortly thereafter adopted our first continental campaign—100 Worship Services for Climate Justice—as part of the denomination-wide Commit2Respond climate justice campaign, of which UUYACJ served as a sponsoring leader.

In August 2015, we helped to create GROW Climate Justice—the first UU-sponsored skill-building workshop for young adult climate justice activism, with the UU College of Social Justice. In February 2016, we began a Climate Justice Book Club. Read our stories!

A multiracial group of two dozen young adults cheers and holds a banner that says "Grow Climate Justice"

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Our Leadership

UUYACJ is supported by a paid, part-time young adult UUMFE staff member, and has a core team of committed network leaders who are active in our programs and community and attend monthly meetings. This core team is currently:

Aly Tharp (Network Coordinator) is a climate justice community organizer and arts-activist based in Austin, Texas, who has served as the Network Coordinator of the UUYACJ since September 2014. Aly is also UU Ministry for Earth’s Program Director. Aly graduated from Austin College in May of 2012, with a B.A. Environmental Studies degree, and began resisting tar sands pipeline infrastructure in East Texas with the Tar Sands Blockade Collective shortly thereafter. Aly also organizes for climate justice with Austin Environmental Justice Team (ATXEJ), Festival Beach Food Forest, and Another Gulf is Possible. Aly found Unitarian Universalism as a teenager and became an active member of the regional UU youth community of the former UUA Southwest District. They currently attend Wildflower UU Church in Austin.

Amelia Diehl (Communications Coordinator) is a writer and photographer originally from Ann Arbor, MI and currently a senior at Beloit College in Wisconsin studying English Literature and Environmental Communication and Arts. Raised Quaker, she has been a community organizer for interfaith incarceration justice, protested with the School of the Americas Watch, and volunteered with No More Deaths, a humanitarian aid organization on the US/Mexico border. In spring 2016, she studied how the role of public art in disaster recovery in Christchurch, New Zealand. Amelia is passionate about nonviolent communication, veganism, intentional living communities, walking, biking and drinking tea. Follow her @amelia_diehl.

Ariel Aaronson-Eves is a seminarian at Starr King School for the Ministry. Previously, she was Organic Farm Manager at Heartland Farm in Kansas, and an Arkansas GardenCorps AmeriCorps Service Member at Dunbar Garden. Ariel is passionate about organic and regenerative agriculture, food justice, and climate justice. She joined the UUYACJ in the Fall of 2015, and helped initiate and lead a UUYACJ virtual book club for all ages. Ariel is also a Member of the UU Ministry for Earth Board of Directors.

Asha Philar is a Youth and Young Adult Ministry Development staff member of the Canadian Unitarian Council, bringing a lot of love and passion to programs for the faith development of Canadian UU youth and young adults. Asha is also an organic gardener, and an active member of the Diverse Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM).

Christine Chao is an Emergency Medical Tech in Los Angeles, California and has served as a Worship Associate at Throop Unitarian Universalist Church. Her passion is climate justice and creating the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. Her interests include Single Payer Healthcare, political activism, clean air and water for all and habitat protection. She has worked as an EMT at Burning Man festivals and also volunteered as a grassroots organizer for Bernie Sanders’ presidential run in 2016. Christine enjoys reading, yoga, meditation, fun chats over tea and hiking.

Elizabeth Mount is the ministerial intern for the First Universalist Church of Denver, Colorado, and serves as host of the UU Environmental Justice Practitioners’ Network monthly Webinars. When not hanging off of bridges in an effort to make the world a better place, Elizabeth enjoys mentoring new Street Medics, reading novels about hope in a dystopian future, and cooking for potlucks (yes, even gluten-free and vegan potlucks). They don’t care how much of an idealist it makes them, Elizabeth truly believes that the future of our beloved communities can be exactly as wondrous as we have the imagination to make them, and therefore, the only big mistake is the failure to dream big.

Evan Seitz is the Climate Justice Organizer for UU Mass Action, since 2015. Evan Seitz supports people of faith in building a prophetic and joyous movement for liberation that includes the abolition of the fossil fuel industry. Prior to joining UU Mass Action, Evan worked for the UU College of Social Justice and as a community planner for FEMA, helping neighborhoods recover after catastrophic natural disasters. Evan grew up Unitarian Universalist at First Parish of Bedford, where he can still be found playing trombone at the Christmas Eve worship. He lives in the Lucy Stone Co-op in Roxbury, where his favorite chores are growing food and fermenting things.

Jimmy Betts never takes bets, always wears a hat, and is an itinerant community solidarity organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), a collective specializing in diversified direct action against extreme extraction & exploitation systems. Jimmy’s background is in integrative medicine, healing & food justice, and community & personal self-defense from for-profit, non-profit, and various expressions of colonial, industrial, patriarchal, imperial oppression. He communicates through physical movement, fiddle music, and various forms of analog & digital social media.

Julian Sharp is a member of the UUA Board of Trustees and a seminarian at Starr King School for the Ministry. He grew up at the Birmingham, Alabama UU Congregation, which is where he first became enamored with faith-rooted community organizing by getting involved in the founding of the Birmingham’s first Gay-Straight Alliance. Julian is also the Director of Community Outreach at Sterling College.

Lee Stewart is an organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), a direct action oriented network that focuses on eliminating extreme forms of energy and energy infrastructure such as fracking, fracked gas pipelines, compressor stations, and export terminals. Lee is from Loudoun County, Virginia where he helped form a local climate group he still works with today — 350 Loudoun. He also works with an organization called We Are Cove Point which is fighting to stop construction of a gas export facility Dominion is building on the Chesapeake. Aside from organizing, Lee likes to read and is learning to play Irish fiddle. To learn more about what Lee does with BXE and to support his work through their community supported organizer (CSO) program, please click here.

Rev. Matthew McHale is originally from Long Beach, and is now the settled minister at Emerson UU Church in Canoga Park, Los Angeles. He has a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Cal State Long Beach, a Master’s degree in American Studies from East Anglia in the UK, and a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. Matthew was raised as a Unitarian Universalist and has been active in every aspect of the UU movement since he was a youth—serving as coordinator, presenter, founder, or member of over 20 different groups, committees, and events.

Matthew was an active member of the Occupy the Farm movement, and he continues to be a strong proponent for environmental, food, and climate justice in his ongoing ministry.

Tim DeChristopher disrupted an illegitimate Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction in December of 2008, by posing as Bidder 70 and outbidding oil companies for parcels around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah.

For his act of civil disobedience, DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in federal prison. Held for a total of 21 months, his imprisonment earned him an international media presence as an activist and political prisoner of the United States government. He has used this as a platform to spread the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for bold, confrontational action in order to create a just and healthy world. Tim used his prosecution as an opportunity to organize the climate justice organization Peaceful Uprising in Salt Lake City, and most recently founded the Climate Disobedience Center.

He continues the work to defend a livable future. Subscribe to Tim’s weekly briefs with updates on his current work and thoughts.