As we start the new church year, we will be continuing our Racial Justice Initiative, which was well received in 2015-16. As before, there will be book suggestions and discussions, a few movie nights, and social action opportunities, as well as the Beloved Conversations Adult Religious Education offering which was developed by a UU minister.
A main focus of the fall will be an examination of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the UUA’s support of the movement, prior to deciding whether or not we should have a Black Lives Matter banner on church property, something that approximately 140 UU congregation have now done. The decision as to whether or not UUCWC should display a banner will be determined by the congregation via a congregational vote, and will not be decided upon by either Rev. Kim or the Council for Faith in Action.
The examination of Black Lives Matter will start with two information sessions in early October, followed by “Listening Circles” which will be small group discussions where participants will be able to explore Black Lives Matter and the UUA’s support in greater depth. The information sessions will be facilitated by congregants who are not members of CFA and the “Listening Circles” will be facilitated by the Right Relations Committee. Neither of these offerings are intended to “sway” the congregation one way or the other but rather are opportunities for learning and discussion about an important issue of our time. A Black Lives Matter FAQ document is being developed and will be widely distributed in October.
In August Rev. Kim, Rev. Rob Gregson of the UU Legislative Ministry of NJ, and I, met with the Chief of the Hopewell Police Department and one of his lieutenants, as well as a member of the Hopewell Township Committee. We had a respectful and frank conversation and the officers indicated that they fully support our constitutional right to publicly express our values and that they did not consider our anti-racism work or potential public support of Black Lives Matter as an affront or threat to them. In fact, the Hopewell police are very pro-active in ensuring that their police officers receive anti-bias and de-escalation training. Going forward, Rev. Kim and Sallie will continue to be in communication with the Hopewell police and the Township Committee. I will be attending the latter’s next meeting on October 12th which will be focusing on the de-escalation training.
As always, members of CFA, as well as Nathalie Edmond and myself, the co-leaders of the Racial Justice Initiative, are available to answer any questions or concerns. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.