Authentic Welcome

Hope Johnson

Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson, CER Program Manager for Conrflict Transformation, 917-304-3048

Unitarian Universalist congregations are called to celebrate multiculturalism and to be inclusive of all as affirmed in our first principle where we honor the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

At the same time, our congregations have received the mandate to support the dismantling of white supremacy so that we center the experience of peoples of color and those from historically marginalized groups in our institutional framework..

This is no easy feat, particularly in these challenging times within and beyond the walls of Unitarian Universalism. We’ve come a long way, but there are times when our intent and our impact are at odds with each other. How can we “make the circle wide” in appropriate ways?

Your Central East Regional staff focuses on offering tools and helpful suggestions for creating a warm congregational welcome for all.

We begin at the beginning—basic hospitality. We’ll often take an inventory of your practices. This includes taking a look at the warm welcome that should be extended to all regardless of gender, sexual orientation, class, race, ethnicity, and more…. Inviting intentional and thoughtful inclusion is critical.

We also know that there are times when attention needs to be paid to individuals so we make every effort to introduce our knowledge of identity coupled with the work of inter-cultural and cross-cultural engagement.

We invite the congregations that we work with to explore what true hospitality looks like. Though we share our general knowledge of ways to be more inclusive in a welcoming way, we also know that each congregation is unique. We have highly skilled staff that can work with you whether it is just to generally warm up your welcome, or to tackle some specific situations requiring sensitivity and we also support difficult situations as they arise. When working with individual congregations we enter into a period of discernment before offering specific tools or suggestions.

Your Congregational Life team is here to support your efforts to be more inclusive and welcoming. We also offer workshops, consulting sessions, restorative circles and opportunities to identify what is really going on. Please don’t hesitate to call on us—we are here to serve. In the meantime, do take a look at the rich resources on this site. I’ve added a few below that might be of interest to your congregation.

Yours, HOPE


About the Author

Hope Johnson

Hope Johnson was a beloved elder in Unitarian Universalism. She served as the Congregational Life Consultant for the UUA's Central East Region and the Southern Region. She brought specialties in conflict resolution and multicultural congregational development.

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