An Invitation to Conversations for Liberation
The following invitation was released in September 2019 by the undersigned groups to encourage Unitarian Universalists to engage in Conversations for Liberation.
We are at a moment of great power and potential in Unitarian Universalism. The organizations signing this letter recognize the need to act with a common framework for leadership in this moment. Unitarian Universalists have charted a new path to create a faith movement where people of all backgrounds and identities can thrive, to challenge systems of oppression, patriarchy and white supremacy at all levels. We have begun to make progress in reimagining and diversifying our leadership and our communities. We are beginning to make good on the promise that generations of our faith forebears have made. At General Assembly 2019 in Spokane, WA, the change was seen and recognized from the stage, among attendees and in programs and worship, embodying the theme of “The Power of We.”
We also recognize that meaningful change is hard, especially as it relates to identity and power. It raises essential questions about whose voices are heard, who is asked to take risks, how we negotiate our relationships, and what our priorities are as a community. False divisions like “political correctness” versus “inclusive speech,” or the question of whether to focus critiques inward in our communities versus outward toward the world, distract from the core calling of our faith to move toward equity and compassion in every way.
We offer Conversations for Liberation to invite Unitarian Universalists into broad, shared discussion to discern together how to move our faith forward toward greater justice. Using this common framework, UUs can engage faithfully in their own congregations and communities, and then bring their discussions on the future of our faith to the wider Association. As you engage in Conversations for Liberation in your communities, we invite you to honor these three core commitments, grounded in Unitarian Universalist values:
First, we recommit ourselves to the aspiration of a fully inclusive and anti-oppressive community. This is an essential calling that arises from our Principles and theology. We recognize oppressive systems as violations of human dignity, demanding we challenge them both within and beyond our congregations. Systems of oppression hurt and dehumanize us all. We acknowledge we are a part of the interdependent web of existence, and that none of us are truly free until we are all liberated from oppression.
Second, we recenter the truth telling that comes from voices at the margins of our faith community. The call to spiritual maturity and growth means listening to marginalized voices, and to create brave space where these truths can be held. The circle of faith community grows wider from the margins, not the center. We value the leadership and wisdom of people who are trans and/or nonbinary, those who are disabled, people of color and Indigenous people, those who are poor, and all who have historically been and continue to be in oppressed communities.
Third, we reaffirm that we must lead from the covenant of care that binds us. We must hold each other in love and kindness, including when we do not agree. We have to take responsibility for the impacts of our voices, processes and actions as we engage with the expectation of growth and learning. No one is disposable. Unitarian Universalism is no place for name-calling, dismissal, gaslighting and arguments that undermine and erase. With humility, we must affirm one another’s humanity, even in times of frustration, heartbreak and trauma.
Together, we must dig deeper to advance our shared aspiration towards a Unitarian Universalism that practices the liberating values of our theology.
Tools and resources for Conversations for Liberation are available at www.uua.org/conversations, supporting each of these three commitments. Every UU group and community is encouraged to set aside time for listening and sharing in small groups, using the discussion guide with questions that were posed about The Power of We at General Assembly. After your conversations, share back highlights of your discussion and add your congregation or community to the map!
Unitarian Universalist Association*
Allies for Racial Equity*
Association of Unitarian Universalist Administrators*
Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries*
Diverse & Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries*
Liberal Religious Educators Association*
Transgender Religious Professional Unitarian Universalists Together*
Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association*
* Endorsed by the governing board or leadership team of these organizations