Thursday, June 25, 2009

Collegial Conversation

For the mid-day program the ministers broke into small groups for informal discussion about a variety of topics and professional situations we're concerned about. I joined the group discussing our denomination's (and our professional association's) continued work around creating an Anti-Racist, Anti-Oppressive, Multicultural institution.

This is a huge topic within the UUA, and has been for at least 17 years when the GA delegates passed a resolution urging the Association to find ways to move in this direction. The issue came up again later in the afternoon during the Berry Street lecture. Multiculturalism is also one of the tracks offered during the UU University portion of the GA. I'll be attending that track later this afternoon and tomorrow morning.

I haven't previously been much involved in this issue. I haven't organized trainings in my congregations or done any work personally except for an occasional workshop as part of a Chapter Retreat, or some other broader context. My reluctance has not been that I don't see the seriousness of the issue, or the value of creating the kind of diverse institution that we vision. My reluctance has been that the issue was initially presented as a issue of white racism, which I do not see as a problem in our congregations, and which is a guilt trip I would not want as a minister to lay on my congregation. Later the issue was better presented as white privilege, which I understand, but at this point the issue becomes so broad and systemic to our culture that I find it misplaced to make it an issue at the forefront of our congregations. It becomes one of many systemic social justice problems, and not necessarily the uppermost one in congregations which are in any case dealing with a lot more work than just social justice issues. So I've preached occasionally on the issue and included it as a factor in other issues that we need to address, but I've not made it a guiding focus of my ministry.

However, I am now feeling called to be more involved in this work. I'm now the minister of an urban-centered congregation which already is significantly diverse and multicultural, so there's a practical reason to do this work, rather than just idealism. And I'm already seeing real evidence of both the benefits and the challenges of creating this kind of community. I have a lot to learn in this area. I'm looking forward to the journey.

1 comment:

Joseph Santos-Lyons said...

congratulations on First LA! I'm excited you are there!!