Update from the Racial Justice Initiative Praxis Group, December 2017

by Dan Tuft, Co-Chair, Racial Justice Initiative

The Praxis Group is a part of the overall Racial Justice Initiative and is taking this entire church year to assess/audit where UUCWC is currently in terms of living, or putting into practice our commitment to racial justice. Nine areas of focus are being examined, one each month until June 2018 with recommendations being shared with the Board throughout the process, especially when issues of urgency are identified. Praxis Group members include Nathalie Edmond and Dan Tuft as co-leaders, as well as Pam Shadzik, Sallie Dunner, Maria Baratta, Dennis Rodgers, Jamie Evanini, Jackie Thomas, Colleen McCourt, Mike Gianella, Caryl Tipton, Holly Bussey, Jennifer Rehbein, and Sue Flynn. We will give you a monthly update on our progress. Please let us know any comments or questions at racialjustice@uucwc.org.

After our organizing meeting in September, the Praxis Group’s October meeting focused on Sustainability, Resiliency, and Humility: Pastoral Care and Spiritual Formation for Activists. Basically, how are we as a community supporting those who are engaged in racial justice activities and what more could we be doing?

What we do already in this area:

People of color circle meets monthly; Racial justice book club meets quarterly; Beloved Conversations is good support but no formal way to continue with similar dialogue and action within congregation once course is done; Faith in Action Facebook page; RJI planning meetings and occasional offerings providing support and in-services

Ways we can grow in this area:

This is not an exhaustive list, but a sampling of ideas generated: Term limits; checking in with people about possible burnout; building a culture of sabbatical breaks; do succession planning within committees; Formalizing forums where people can gather to discuss concerns and challenges in this area; Structure support for where people can be supported after Beloved Conversations; Maybe having a spirituality group focused on racial justice, similar to Soul Matters or a little less structured, with or without a theme

Next steps/recommendations:

Again, a sampling of the group thoughts: Develop support group/small group offering related to racial justice; Recommend to the Board that the RE budget be increased to include dedicated funding related to racial justice topics; Work to not have curriculum priorities be driven solely by person in chair/director role if the goal is to support racial justice content and anti-racism spiritual development; Recommend each committee have some inclusion of racial justice in their self-reflection, mission and/or budget requests; RJI should be embedded into next 5 year plan. As of this printing, RJI is working to establish at least one support group within the month where people can discuss their experiences with living their commitment to racial justice.