Multicultural Ministry: UU Church of Annapolis, MD
The tenth episode in the "A Religion for Our Time" series shares insights from the fifteen-year journey of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis (UUCA), MD, toward becoming a more diverse congregation.
"So the question is, how do you in your church begin to move toward this multiracial, multicultural paradigm?” asks UUCA Associate Minister Rev. John Crestwell. "And it's simple. It has to become a conscious, deliberate, and determined effort of the congregation. You've got to look at every aspect of your ministry and make every aspect of that ministry speak to the reality that you seek."
REV. PETER MORALES: One of the issues facing our movement that I'm most passionate about is the changing face of America, and the absolutely critical need for us to embrace a multicultural future. I'd like you to see an inspiring example of intentional multicultural ministry at the UU church of Annapolis.
SPEAKER: It was nearly two years ago that the Annapolis congregation voted to participate in the UUA's diversity in ministry initiative. And a few months later, they called the Reverend John Crestwell as an associate minister. But this was hardly the beginning of the story.
REV. FRED MUIR: One of the most significant turning points for us has been to abandon what somebody has called magical thinking, as though becoming an anti racist, multicultural congregation was just going to happen. That people would walk through the door and think we're really, really great, or look at our principals and say, this is the place I want to be, that would require no work or effort on our own part. And one of the things that has become very, very clear is that we need to be very, very intentional about this work, which is what we have done for the last 15 years.
SPEAKER: And some of that work is looking within.
REV. FRED MUIR: To look at our own attitudes, to look at our resistance to multiculturalism, which includes Sunday morning, which includes worship, which includes our programs, which includes music. And if those places needed attention and needed changing, then that was going to be part of what was going to happen.
REV. JOHN CRESTWELL: So I got here from Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church in Camp Springs. We had gotten like 40% racial diversity. And when I decided to become the associate minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, I really wondered if this church could be as diverse as the one in Camp Springs. Because Camp Springs, the church was in the neighborhood that was like 70%, 80% African American people of color. And Davies got to like 40% racial diversity. 4 in 10 were people of color. So when people said to me, can we do it here, I really wasn't sure.
SPEAKER: Another turning point came along; shifting from anti racism to multiculturalism.
REV. FRED MUIR: We started to think more broadly, more deeply. And that seemed to open everything else up, that this was not just going to be about bringing people of color into the congregation. It was going to be meeting expectations and needs for not only people of color, but for young adults, for our children, for everybody in the congregation.
SPEAKER: So the staff and lay leaders are working to put multicultural competencies into the fiber and fabric of everything they do, from worship and music to RE, fellowship, and justice.
REV. JOHN CRESTWELL: I'm excited to say that after a year, we see significant levels of increase in our people of color. It's happening. We see a lot more young people. So we're growing not only in racial diversity, but we're growing younger too. And that's exciting.
EMERSON HAMSA: It's a good feeling, and it's good to see that his presence has drawn other people of color to the congregation.
JANICE GOODMAN: [? It's been ?] a positive experience. We've been coming for about six months now, and just from day one, felt welcome, felt like we belonged.
REV. FRED MUIR: We have been in partnership with the UUA every step along the way. We've used UUA staff and consultants and have committed a lot of resources to this journey. Resources of money, resources of people and time and space.
REV. JOHN CRESTWELL: So the question is, how do you in your church begin the move toward this multiracial, multicultural paradigm, and it's simple. It has to become a conscious, deliberate and determined effort of the congregation. You've got to look at every aspect of your ministry and make every aspect of that ministry speak to the reality that you see. So my order of service and how that looks matters. The art that I put in my church matters. What I do in the worship service, you know the liturgy, all of that matters. What is preached about on Sunday morning, it has to become a part of the fabric, that DNA of your congregation. If you do that, and you're patient, and give it some time and some thoughtful meditation, you'll watch your congregation transform.
SPEAKER: One of the keys to being a religion for our time.