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On every step of our journey, each of us carries the unique perspectives of our age, gender, color, ethnic heritage, language, spiritual belief, sexual orientation, physical, mental and emotional nature, and economic circumstance. We can choose to see these differences as divisions, or to view cultural diversity as a gift to be cherished and nurtured. Our community is not a dull fabric of a single colored thread, but a tapestry of vibrant colors and rich textures, woven into a vital, ever-changing design. For our world to survive in this time of intense and quickening change, we need the vision and insight of each person, the strength and wisdom of each culture. — jona olsson, contemporary educator and activist

Although the term "multicultural" is fairly new, the challenge and opportunity to embrace those with different experiences, perspectives, and ways of being in the world are not. As Unitarians, Universalists, and Unitarian Universalists, we have at times in our history followed societal norms in our willingness or reluctance to welcome diversity. At other times, we have confronted and refuted the accepted ways—sometimes our own accepted ways—in order to embrace diversity and invite it to transform us. This workshop explores stories of multicultural encounter from our tradition; some are inspiring, and some ask us to examine past actions with candor and compassion.

Before leading this workshop, review Accessibility Guidelines for Workshop Presenters in the program Introduction and make preparations to accommodate anyone who may be in the group.


This workshop will:

  • Explore how Unitarians, Universalists and Unitarian Universalists have historically viewed cultural differences, including the unique identities of individuals and groups
  • Invite participants to reflect on their own experiences of inclusion and exclusion in Unitarian Universalist settings
  • By examples from our history, both exemplary and cautionary, point the way toward building the multicultural, welcoming congregations and Association that manifest our highest values, expectations, and capabilities.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Define "culture"
  • Consider how their personal cultural identities and the cultural identities of Unitarian Universalism manifest and interact in our institutions and practices
  • Learn about times in our history when Unitarians, Universalists, and Unitarian Universalists faced the promise and challenge of welcoming diversity into our congregations and movement engaged with differences in culture, identity, perspective, or experience
  • Consider ways they do, or can, share their own cultures with others.

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