For almost two years, UUCWC has had an intentional focus on racial justice work. This work has already had a profound impact on many in our congregation. At this time, we are ready to take this initiative to the next level, with a congregational vote to display a banner that will serve as a public expression of our faith’s values, including racial justice. The Board of Trustees has enthusiastically and unanimously approved this plan.
As background, our Racial Justice Initiative grew from the UUA General Assembly 2015 call to action to support Black Lives Matter and link it to UU Principles. The call invited congregations to cultivate intentional learning spaces around racial justice. Members of UUCWC took on this work with great passion. In summer 2015 the Racial Justice Project kicked off, and during the 2015-16 calendar year we held small group circles, book discussion groups, and films exploring white privilege, in addition to participating in numerous social justice activities. During the summer of 2016, the Racial Justice Project changed its name to the Racial Justice Initiative (RJI) to emphasize UUCWC’s commitment to ongoing efforts to promote social justice. Many of the participants in the various opportunities for education and discussion that have taken place tell us it has transformed their understanding of these challenging issues.
Last fall, the RJI hosted FAQs and listening circles focused on Black Lives Matter in preparation for possibly hanging a Black Lives Matter banner at UUCWC. In November 2016 almost 60 congregants began participation in Beloved Conversations to further explore white privilege and ways for predominantly white congregations to become allies.
And, this past winter 2017 a survey was sent to the congregation to gauge support for Black Lives Matter as a social justice movement and whether the church should hang a banner. Half the congregation participated in the survey, and about 70-80 percent of respondents expressed support for the banner, although there was a sense from comments that endorsing other values from our candles of fellowship would also be important.
Based on the results of the survey, feedback from the listening circles, as well as the current political climate in which numerous nondominant groups are being targeted, the RJI has proposed that we hang a more far-reaching banner (a variation of the one which has been developed by the UUA) which expresses our faith’s values. The congregation will vote on the public display of the banner at the April 2 congregational meeting.
Many thanks to Sallie Dunner, Nathalie Edmond and Dan Tuft, who have put enormous passion, time and energy into leading this work.
The Council for Faith in Action will hold an information session on Sunday, March 26th, at 12:30pm, in the Sanctuary. In the meantime, Sallie Dunner, Nathalie Edmond or Dan Tuft will be glad to answer any questions you might have.
by Pam Shadzik