More than 35 years ago, the Shinn Service began to honor the memory of Barbara Shinn and her commitment to social action. Barbara was an active member of First Parish and chaired what was then known as the Social Responsibility Committee. She was a respected educator and a leader in the community and had a passion for teaching children with disabilities. She displayed great courage in the face of a debilitating illness, arthritis of the spine. She was the granddaughter of the Universalist minister Dr. Quillen Hamilton Shinn, who founded the Ferry Beach camp in Maine.
The original Shinn Conference fund was set up by her sisters after Barbara’s death in 1976. Each year the Social Justice Committee coordinates this service and our sermon speaker to address a matter of public concern. While the original funds have been depleted, the committee has chosen to continue to fund and continue the tradition of the Shinn Service. It is one of the ways that, as a church community, We Live our Faith.
Over the years, we have heard Shinn speakers talk about a variety of social justice issues including anti-racism, the cost of capital punishment, the work of the UU Urban Ministry, the war in Iraq, climate change, the Beyond the 11th Foundation, marriage equality, ethical eating, and economic justice.
At the October 29 Shinn Service, Dr. Elizabeth Hinton, Assistant Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, will speak to the congregation. Dr. Hinton has garnered many honors and awards for her recent book, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America, which was named one of the New York Times' 100 notable books of 2016.
Recently she received the prestigious 2017 Phi Beta Kappa Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, which is given for “scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity.” Dr. Hinton's research examines the persistence of poverty and racial inequality in 20th century United States. Her scholarship considers the transformation of domestic social programs and urban policing after the Civil Rights Movement. She identifies the federal law enforcement programs that laid the groundwork for the mass incarceration of American citizens.
Discussion in the sanctuary will follow Dr. Hinton's presentation immediately following the service and her book will be available for purchase (with an opportunity to have the book autographed).