Video: How ‘Standing on the Side of Love’ was born

At the 2012 General Assembly, the Rev. Jason Shelton, associate minister of music at the First UU Church in Nashville, told UU World the story of how he wrote the song “Standing on the Side of Love” back in 2004 while listening to UUA President William G. Sinkford prepare for a phone call with a reporter. Sinkford’s phrase, “We stand on the side of love”—transformed into the song lyric “We are standing on the side of love”—gave birth to the Unitarian Universalist public witness ministry Standing on the Side of Love. (See also UU World‘s profile of Shelton’s music ministry from the Summer 2008 issue.)

(Composing ‘Standing on the Side of Love’ from UU World on Vimeo.)

Shelton sang and conducted the 2012 General Assembly choir during the Service of the Living Tradition on Friday, June 22.

  • Laila Ibrahim

    wow. what an awesome story. thank you peter. thank you jason.

  • jason_in_nashvegas

    I wish I had had the presence
    of mind to address the pain that the word “standing” has caused for
    some in whose physical abilities do not allow it, but I didn’t, and I am
    sorry. It is a deep regret to know that this phrase has been a source
    of pain for some. I will say that the many conversations I have had over
    the years with friends with accessibility concerns have helped me
    understand the issue in a way I would not have heard when the song was
    written in 2004, and for those friends and conversations I am profoundly
    grateful. I was intrigued to learn this week that this is concern that
    wouldn’t come up in most any language other than English. The
    words/phrases for “standing up (physically) and “taking a stand”
    (metaphorically) are, in most other languages, completely different. I
    can’t speak for Bill Sinkford, who crafted the phrase to begin with, but
    I know that I have always meant it in a metaphorical sense – putting
    our time, commitment, passion and, at times, our bodies (with all of
    their beautiful differences and abilities) where our proclaimed values
    demand we “stand.” That the phrase has galvanized our movement in a way
    we haven’t seen since Selma heartens me. That it leaves some feeling
    left out and unnoticed reminds me just how much work we have yet to do
    to realize the beloved community of which we all dream.


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