A Message from the UUA Leadership Council, April 6, 2017
Dear Congregational Leaders,
The past few weeks have been difficult for many of us in the Unitarian Universalist community. The pain resulting from patterns of institutional racism and the impact of white supremacy within our Association has been shared openly and urgently. This pain reflects generations of injustice and unfulfilled commitments to dismantle racism — not just a few weeks of conversation. We offer our apologies and prayers for those who have been harmed. We thank those Unitarian Universalists of Color whose courageous voices have led the way in this conversation and renewed commitment.
For those who may not be fully aware of this situation, a recent hiring decision at the UUA opened an urgent conversation about institutional racism within the UUA. President Peter Morales acknowledged that his response to the concerns deepened the hurt and created more alienation and division. On March 30, 2017, Rev. Morales announced his resignation. The UUA Leadership Council offered an apology for the ways the UUA has failed to live into our highest values of equity and inclusion. You can learn more in this UU World online article. We also encourage you to read what other Unitarian Universalists and UU groups are saying about this situation. This UU World article has a partial compilation of other voices and opinions.
Yesterday, on Wednesday, April 5, Rev. Harlan Limpert, Chief Operating Officer, and Rev. Scott Tayler, Director of Congregational Life, announced their decisions to resign, effective April 20 and June 30, respectively. The Board has asked the Rev. Sarah Lammert, Director of Ministries and Faith Development, to serve as Acting COO in the interim, until the June 24 presidential election at General Assembly in New Orleans. We send our prayers to Peter, Harlan, and Scott, and honor them for their years of service with the UUA. We understand and appreciate that their difficult decisions were reached out of love for our faith and hope for our future.
The Board of Trustees is in the process of selecting a president to serve immediately until the GA 2017 election. In the meantime, the UUA Leadership Council has begun putting together a plan for ways we will engage in an immediate internal review of how our institution advantages white Unitarian Universalists. This will include, at least, a review of hiring and promotion procedures and goals, the involvement of outside expertise, working together with the UUA Board, listening to those most affected, and engaging in critical self-examination about how all of our programs and initiatives advance our commitment to anti-racism, equity, and inclusivity. We are aware that our Association’s inadequate responses to the expressions of outrage have added harm upon harm. Now we recommit ourselves to the work of listening, learning, organizing, healing, and reconciling.
While many feel shaken by this change in leadership, UUs around the country have also shared many expressions of hope and resilience. This reminds us that the UUA is much more than a staff and a board striving imperfectly to fulfill our mission.
You and your best values are also the UUA. Your congregations, together, are the UUA. Our children and their curiosity are the UUA. Innovative communities that are imagining new ways of living our values are the UUA. People of Color, people with disabilities, people who are trans, and others who have not always found a welcome in our congregations are the UUA. Your creative ministry and prophetic voice are the UUA.
Thank you for your good ministry and for your support. Your love, generosity, and service are the UUA. Together, we are the UUA. Thank you.
UUA Leadership Council
Director of Multicultural Growth and Witness
Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer
Director of Communication
Rev. Sarah Lammert
Director of Ministries and Faith Development
Director of Human Resources
Rev. Mary Katherine Morn
Director of Stewardship and Development
Director of Information Technology Services