Eleven of your UU St Pete colleagues, along with 5,000 fellow UUs, attended the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) 51st General Assembly last week. 100% virtually, of course. Just four short months ago, such an undertaking seemed impossible. Imagine.
Four years ago, the UUA Commission on Institutional Change (COIC) launched a comprehensive investigation into the perennial problem of race in our faith community. The Commission and the Report looked at the issues almost solely from the perspective of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color
“Widening the Circle of Concern” is the report that takes an honest, critical view of our UU Association, our congregations, and our practices that perpetuate white supremacy and systemic racism. This is a must read. This report is courageous in its honesty, sobering in its truths, and hopeful in its recommendations. It asks us to hold ourselves and one another accountable. It is a first step toward a process of truth and reconciliation.
We heard mostly from Black people, Indigenous people, people of color and diverse multi-racial people, Queer people, young people, and people living with disabilities, on a full range of topics to help us learn to be better people, be better listeners, and to better exercise leadership as an extension of spiritual practice.
The report urges us to embrace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and multi culturalism. It questions many comfortable assumptions about governance, and the inclusivity we profess. It offers recommendations for doing the important work of modeling, imagining and building The Beloved Community.
We’re in a remarkable moment. Old truths and old narratives are collapsing. Mississippi just removed the confederate flag. The people out in our streets – young, multi-racial, diverse – are the Unitarian Universalists of our bright future, we were told. If we listen. These voices are out of time and patience for small technical fixes, and tweaks. Change is accelerating at a rate and in ways that many dared to dream. Imagine.
Because we are UUs, all eleven of us have twenty different takeaways. As we navigate through the COVID pandemic and the unmasking of systemic racism, we’re learning that “normal” was not so great for a lot of folk, especially Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, women, LGBTQI+ and other marginalized folks. As we imagine and build the Beloved Community, we have an opportunity to listen, learn, co-create and act.
How do we move forward? If we are honest, we were told to admit that no one has the answer – or the right answer. Rather, each of us holds a piece to the puzzle. We need to be covenantal and strengthen our relationships. We need to be transformative, and courageous to co-create the world we imagine.
That’s my takeaway,
President of the Board, UUSP