Can We Hear the Call from Ferguson?

By Joan Van Becelaere

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere

Rev. Joan Van Becleaere

What do events in Ferguson have to do with the sense of purpose at the core of our congregations?

A couple of days ago, the Rev. Peter Morales, president of our UUA, noted that: “Ferguson is not about Ferguson. It is about the systematic dehumanizing of people all over America. As Unitarian Universalists, we have faith that it need not be this way. We can create a world that is accepting, fair, loving, and diverse. We know we can make a difference.”

“Accepting, fair, loving and diverse” is a great description of the Beloved Community. And our UU faith calls us to covenant with one another and work together to create that Beloved Community here and now. This isn’t just something we ‘do’ when we have a few minutes free on a weekend or evening. It’s not something we take up a special collection for once a year or once a month. It’s not something we delegate to a “Social Justice Committee”, thinking that we have thereby fulfilled our duty.

Creating the Beloved Community is something we are called to ‘live’ every hour of every day as individual Unitarian Universalists and as congregations. It is an overarching goal that should be at the heart of everything our congregations do, preach, teach, support and plan. It should lead us to network with other congregations – UU and beyond – because we know we are enormously more effective when we work together. While setting up our religious education programs or planning our next budgets or engaging in a stewardship campaign, we want to ask ourselves: “Is what we are about to do helping create Beloved Community? If it isn’t helping in some way, then why are we doing it?”

If we are serious about our commitment to creating an accepting, fair, loving and diverse Beloved Community, then we will want to link with other congregations, live our covenant in all things, and love the world actively and courageously. In this way, we, as Unitarian Universalists, will respond with courageous love to Ferguson MO and the many, many Fergusons we find in our own states and communities across our nation.

Rev. Morales wrote: “In the short-term, let us stand on the side of love with those seeking healing and some measure of justice. In the long-term, let us rededicate ourselves to the work of building a world where events like those in Ferguson are unthinkable.”

Is what we do helping create Beloved Community?

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere
Congregational Life Staff and CERG Regional Lead

About the Author

Joan Van Becelaere

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere is the Executive Director of UU Justice Ohio. She served as a Congregational Life Consultant for the Central East Region from 2007-2018. Previously, Rev. Van Becelaere was Vice President for Student Services at Iliff Theological School in Denver, CO where she also taught...

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