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Click here to contribute to the Spring 2013 Chalice Lighter call.

CBD Chalice Lighter grant application deadline
for Fall 2013 is October 15, 2013. [Details]

Upcoming Programs for Congregational Leaders

Renewing our Commitment to Multicultural Ministry with the GRACE Team: May 18


Orienting New Board Members (CBD) with Doug Zelinski: June 1


Creating and Leading Dynamic Lay-Led Worship with Rev. Sue Phillips:
June 8


Boston Gay Pride Parade 2013: June 8  


Orienting New Board Members (MBD) with Doug Zelinski: June 15



Upcoming O.W.L. Facilitator Trainings:


Grades 7 to 12:



"From Consulting Minister to
to Settled Minister

an essay by Mike Ingber of the Mattatuck UU Society, Woodbury, CT


Taboo or Opportunity?

by Meck Groot, MeckGroot

Program & Justice Ministries Coordinator   


I chatted recently with a woman from one of our congregations about last year's General Assembly, which we had both attended. I will call her Jennifer, though that is not her name. She raved about a workshop that had made a big impression on her. I asked who had led that workshop but she couldn't remember.


I thought I knew who the speaker was though I couldn't come up with a name either, so I asked Jennifer, "Is she a person of color?"


"I don't know," she said. "I don't see color."


[


Renewing Our Commitment to Multicultural Ministries - May 18, 2013, Northboro MA 
There's still time to register yourself or your congregational team to attend the third annual G.R.A.C.E. Summit. Join the G.R.A.C.E. (Growing Racial and Cultural Equity) team for worship, story-telling, conversation, workshops and more as we explore what supports and what impedes congregational growth toward authentic partnership with and inclusion of people from diverse racial and cultural groups. [Details]

REGISTER NOW! (deadline: May 13)

Culture, Diversity, and Change:
Developing Skills for Inclusive Community 
for ministers and seminarians
August 12 to 14, 2013
with Rev. Parisa Parsa and Rev. Erica Baron
at the Walker Center, Newton, MA

Registration opens soon. Further details coming.

As we aspire to multicultural community, we are often short on time to consider the ways our own cultures are created, and how we can be leaders in the transformation of ourselves and our communities. In this three day workshop, we will form a learning community to go deep into this work together, using the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS).

 Additional Resources
Dr. Paul Rasor
by Paul Rasor in UU World, Spring 2010. 
In this essay, Rasor addresses the question, "Our tradition has always been responsive to the needs of its time, but are we ready to adapt to our increasingly multicultural society?" He offers insight into why this particular change is challenging yet necessary.

Rosemary Bray McNattWe Must Change

by Rosemary Bray McNatt, UU World, Spring 2010. A response to Paul Rasor's essay listed above,
in which Bray McNatt addresses the need for UUs to shift what can be an alienating culture.

The Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity by Dr. Milton J. Bennett 

Racial Justice and Multicultural Ministries 

Resources from the UUA.

Taboo or Opportunity?  (continued from top)

A As I write this, I notice myself pausing before I let you know that Jennifer is white. Because some people get uncomfortable when race is mentioned, I'm afraid I might lose readers at this point. Race is a challenging subject in many U.S. contexts. In fact, sometimes it seems like a taboo subject. Why is that? Some would say that making it taboo ensures that white people continue to enjoy the benefits and immunities that come with being white in this country. 


But I don't think that explains what was going on for Jennifer. I think that for her race is not supposed to matter, so why bring it up? For her, bringing up race may seem out of keeping with our first principle. How can we affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person if we see people in categories that historically and currently are used to exploit people? If we notice and speak of race, do we give credence to a classification system that has no basis in reality? Doesn't our faith invite us to acknowledge that there is only one race: the human race?

I was mulling these things over with my friend A Roc (a pseudonym she suggested) who is not UU. I had to explain about the seven principles. A Roc identifies variously and proudly as "a woman of color," "black," "a person of African descent," and "African American." She was fascinated to hear my musings about why someone white might avoid talking about race and was compelled by my speculation that it had to do with affirming and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of every person. "But," she said, "if you are dealing with a person from another culture - through a difference of race, ability, sexuality or whatever - you should be able to acknowledge their difference as a way to grant them their inherent worth and dignity. If you can't acknowledge my feeling and saying that this difference matters, then you are not seeing me - because that's how I see myself. If you can't acknowledge my race, then you can't understand my life experience. If you say that you don't notice my race, then I conclude that you do not see me."


This presents a terrible paradox for people of faith. How do we remember the spiritual truth that race is a social construction without scientific basis at the same time that we acknowledge the political truth that everyone in the United States lives a racialized existence - even those of us who so easily come to think of ourselves as "raceless" or "generic" but who are in fact "white"? When one race is upheld as superior and others as inferior, minimizing racial difference can be an important choice toward affirming everyone's inherent worth and dignity. This is a choice that many Unitarian Universalists make every day.


Yet, A Roc tells me that her inherent worth and dignity are not affirmed if her race is overlooked or considered unimportant. She wants people in her life to know that she is black and that being black is a worthy identity. Not only that, she wants others in her life to know their racial identity, too. She wants me to know that I am white - not so that I can feel bad or good about myself - but because it matters to how we relate to each other. Awareness of our cultural and social rank differences and why they matter deepens our mutual affirmation of each other's inherent worth and dignity.


Should we minimize these differences, or accept them and learn as much as we can about how and why they matter? This tension is very alive in many UU congregations. In such contexts, I am reminded of Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt's statement in "We Must Change" that "...no matter what your social location, you find yourself in trouble rather than in community."


This tension about what and how to communicate regarding race comes up regularly in our work with congregations. At the moment, Clara Barton District's GRACE (Growing Racial and Cultural Equity) Team is preparing for its third annual summit on May 18. Each year, the summit has been titled "Renewing Our Commitment to Multicultural Ministries." The purpose of the summit is to offer encouragement, resources and conversations to individuals and teams of people from congregations intentionally working to build the capacity of their congregations for multicultural ministries both within and beyond their congregation. Every year the question of what words we will use comes up. Is this a conversation about race and anti-racism or about culture and multiculturalism?


Perhaps it doesn't matter so much where we begin. In the United States, race and culture are so deeply entwined that there is little meaningful conversation about one without the other. Race is a critical factor in determining how we are grouped and our group teaches us culture, i.e., "how we do things around here." If we are serious about being welcoming to ALL people, then all of us will need to know more about who we are as congregations and individuals - both culturally and racially. We will also need to know more about those we are welcoming and aspiring to build meaningful relationships with.


And we can't do either of these if we minimize the differences among us or stop ourselves from talking about them.


In faith,

Meck Groot, Justice Ministries Coordinator