New Developments in Multicultural Growth & Witness Staff Group
Over the past several months, the Multicultural Growth Team of the Multicultural Growth & Witness (MG&W) staff group has been engaged in an analysis of the team’s composition with the aim of more effectively fulfilling its mission. The team identified two critical goals: clarifying the intersections between Unitarian Universalist (UU) LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Ministries and UU Racial and Ethnic Ministries; and forging stronger links between congregational transformation and social justice transformation in the wider world. As a result of this analysis, the team will be implementing the following changes:
- The Multicultural Growth Team of MG&W will become the Multicultural Ministries Team.
- The Multicultural Growth Director will become the Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director. The Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director will guide the strategic planning and implementation of the Multicultural Leadership Institute, a leadership development initiative designed to inspire, equip, and nurture professional and lay religious leaders who are committed to creating intentionally diverse, welcoming, inclusive, and justice-centered ministries that are multicultural and multigenerational.
- A new position called LGBTQ and Multicultural Ministries Program Manager has been created. This position brings together aspects of the LGBTQ Ministries portfolio and the Multicultural Congregations portfolio. A hiring search will be conducted for the LGBTQ and Multicultural Ministries Program Manager.
- The word “queer” will be added to the language MG&W uses to describe marginalized sexual orientations and gender identities/gender expressions. “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)” will become “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ).” The LGBT Ministries portfolio will become the LGBTQ Ministries portfolio.
The changes listed in this communication take effect July 1, 2012. Specifics about staffing and other staff portfolio changes are described below.
Multicultural Ministries Team
The transition from the Multicultural Growth Team to the Multicultural Ministries Team reflects a shift from growth as “numbers of people in congregations” to growth as the capacity of UU congregations and communities to welcome, include, minister to, and act in solidarity with people of various identities as individuals and communities in a multicultural world.
Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director
As described above, the Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director will guide the Multicultural Leadership Institute in developing educational and organizational development resources that equip lay and professional leaders to lead vital multicultural, multigenerational congregations.
The Multicultural Leadership Institute
This institute was launched in February 2012 at a conference called Mosaic Makers Conference: Leading Vital Multicultural Congregations. The Mosaic Makers Conference was produced in partnership with All Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, DC, and involved approximately 100 UU professional and lay religious leaders who came together for worship, experiential learning, and keynotes relating to four areas: worship, congregational life, justice ministry, and leadership. A second Mosaic Makers Conference is planned for 2014.
The Multicultural Leadership Institute recognizes that transforming UU institutions to become the Beloved Community where people of many identities are fully welcomed and included requires visionary leadership. In addition to providing experiential learning and fostering learning communities for congregational transformation, the Multicultural Leadership Institute will provide resources that enable Unitarian Universalists to develop the intercultural knowledge and skills necessary to participate effectively in social justice coalitions that cross multiple identities. MG&W will collaborate with Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) staff colleagues, congregations, and UU organizations to strategically plan and implement programs of the Multicultural Leadership Institute.
LGBTQ and Multicultural Ministries Program Manager
The LGBTQ and Multicultural Ministries Program Manager position reflects an emphasis on supporting healthy organizational systems and equipping UU faith communities to be places where people who are marginalized around sexual orientation, gender identity/gender expression, and race and ethnicity will find sanctuary and solidarity. The position brings together aspects of the LGBTQ Ministries portfolio and the Multicultural Congregations portfolio related to organizational development and adaptive leadership.
The person hired as the LGBTQ and Multicultural Ministries Program Manager will have five or more years experience in organizational development with an emphasis on leading change in congregations. In addition, MG&W is seeking persons who have grounding in social justice and anti-oppression/anti-racism/multiculturalism. The ideal candidate will be able to support congregations and UU communities in linking their internal transformation work with social justice ministries in the larger world.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Ministries
Adding the word “queer” to the language MG&W uses to describe marginalized sexual orientations and gender identities/gender expressions is a step forward in conceptualizing the work of welcome and inclusion. MG&W is committed to supporting UU congregations in intentionally welcoming and including people who identify as queer; explicitly including this word in our language will also help us continue to cross borders of age, gender identity, and other identities in our work.*
Additional Staff and Portfolio Changes
The Multicultural Growth Program Coordinator will become the Multicultural Communications Coordinator. The Multicultural Communications Coordinator will coordinate the delivery of communications that highlight UU leaders and innovators, best practices, tools, and resources for Unitarian Universalists engaged in intentional anti-oppression/anti-racism/multicultural ministries and leadership.
The Congregational Justice Administrator will become the LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs Administrator. In this capacity the LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs Administrator will help build the capacity of UU congregations to work at the intersections of multiculturalism and social justice, including witness and advocacy on issues of LGBTQ inclusion, justice, and equality.
*Additional note on LGBTQ Ministries
Any attempt to label people can never capture the wholeness of experiences and identities, yet the language we use is a critical tool for making visible what might otherwise remain invisible. MG&W staff will use the language “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ)” going forward.
MG&W recognizes that “queer” is a complex word with multi-faceted definitions: (a) an adjective used by those who are attracted to people of many genders; (b) a self-identity label for people who feel they do not personally fit cultural norms around sexual orientation and/or gender identity; (c) an umbrella term for all people with non-heterosexual sexual orientations; (d) a pejorative term or slur; its use today is met with disfavor by some and worn proudly by others.