The Rev. Paula Maiorano serves as UUSD's Interim Minister for a two-year period, which began on August 1, 2015, to guide the congregation through the transition between the retirement of our long-serving minister, Rev. D. Michael Smith, and the calling of the next permanent minister. Rev. Maiorano is a native Delawarean and graduate of the University of Delaware and Lancaster (PA) Theological Seminary. She has extensive ministerial experience serving as a parish minister, chaplain, interim minister, and community minister in the developing prison reentry sector. She recently served as the organizational minister for the UUs of Central DE. She is co-founder of the Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow and founder of Second Chances of Delaware (formerly A Center for Relational Living), a non-profit agency that provides services to formerly incarcerated men and women. Rev. Maiorano and her husband currently live in Wilmington, DE and have a second home in Sussex County. They are the parents of two sons.
A Message from Rev. Maiorano
The transition from one minister to a new settled minister is described as the interim years, in which the congregation stands between the closing of one door and the opening of another. It will be my privilege and opportunity to accompany UUSD during these in-between times as your interim minister. I look forward with appreciation and enthusiasm to the new church year ahead of us.
A new church building plus a new, and temporary, minister...these definitely place a community in unchartered waters that ebb and flow with inherent gifts and risks. Let me suggest that a spirit of adventure is called for to navigate these waters and to live in the adventure, which one dictionary describes as "an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity." Whether or not hazardous, change, even positive change, is stressful. Throughout the coming months, I expect to be preaching about some of the traits of resilience needed for this journey of transition. Creativity, a sense of purpose, and setting your inner compass to true north come to mind. And Oh yes! Fun. Fun is absolutely relevant.
Rev. Paula Maiorano to Speak on Economic Justice on August 18, 2015 in Lewes
Rev. Paula is new to UUSD, but not to the world of social and economic justice. She will participate on a panel with other community leaders at a forum sponsored by the Delaware Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action. The forum, which is entitled "Keys to a Prosperous Middle Class Future and Economic Justice," will be held on Tuesday, August 18 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at the Lewes Public Library (11 Adams Avenue, Lewes DE 19958). Rev. Paula will speak on minimum wages for sustainability of life. The forum is open to the public.
At this event, community leaders will discuss the keys to unlock opportunities to build a strong middle class. The core policy solutions they will discuss include: Guarantee Fair Wages and Benefits; Increase Public Investment to Grow Middle Class; and Tax Concentrated Wealth. Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn about and support actions happening across the state on these topics.
An Interview with UUSD's New Interim Minister on Transformative Justice
"...each of us is able to shape our participation in social and economic change..." — Rev. Paula Maiorano
Why were you invited to participate in the August 18th forum?
Rev. Paula: My community ministry and work to end racism and mass incarceration has drawn the attention of Drew Serres, an organizer for Delaware Americans for Democratic Action (DADA), who has become a regular participant with the Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow. Apparently there are several members of UUSD who are also members of DADA. When the forum in Lewes was scheduled and panel speakers were sought, my name was suggested by UUSD church members. Drew Serres was able to affirm their recommendation.
When/how did your commitment to economic and social justice develop? Was there a defining moment that moved you to action?
Rev. Paula: To answer these would be to write my autobiography. For now, suffice it to say that family experiences, a religious education and journey, and many defining moments have shaped my economic and social justice consciousness and moved me to action.
Is a Federally mandated minimum wage enough to sustain life or should the focus be on a living wage?
Rev. Paula: Focus on a living wage. Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established a maximum 40 hour work week, abolished child labor, and set a minimum wage. For me, the word fair in the title of the Fair Labor Standards Act is the salient point. Is it fair today that the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25, yet depending on the part of the country in which one lives, the cost of the basics for life takes $15 to $18? I think not. I would like to see the federal minimum increased to at least $15 an hour.
You have co-owned a small business for a long time. An argument against raising the minimum wage is that it will hurt small business. What do you say to that claim?
Rev. Paula: There is a national debate on the effect on the overall economy of a significant minimum wage increase. Many, if not most, economists argue that a raise will increase the overall dollars in the economy, leading to an improvement in business. I believe this latter. I also believe that it is a human right to work and through that work to be able to at least receive the basics of what it costs to live. Unfortunately, the costs of life for too many have been shifted to the taxpayer, through government subsidies for housing, food, and healthcare. This is not fair to either the employee or the taxpayer. Certainly from a UU perspective, the inherent worth and dignity of an individual is undermined, when one is working hard yet still unable to support one's self.
The wealth gap has widened to historic proportions and the middle class has contracted and grown weaker. Do you think this trend can be reversed? How?
Rev. Paula: I think the trend must be reversed in order to regain a strong democracy which has been weakened by the influence of wealth on the political process. It will take an engaged citizenry fighting for balance and fairness. It won't be easy, but it is achievable. We need a national wake up call and religious voices can lead that call.
Sussex County is a classic example of have and have nots. What more can UUSD do to balance the scales of social and economic justice for all?
Rev. Paula: John Murray, founder of American Universalism, said to give people hope not hell. The message that a re-imagined world is possible is hopeful. Within a shared vision, each of us is able to shape our participation in social and economic change, learning to think and work strategically, guided by our religious principles. A continuous process of study, dialogue, action, and reflection on the outcomes of action will advance transformative justice. The unique work of the Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware is emerging. I am privileged to be a part of it.