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Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Team Report, General Assembly 2014

General Assembly 2014 Event 338

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This report is part of a longer event. Go to General Session IV for the complete video and order of business.


THE MODERATOR: Our next report is from the Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Team, created by the delegates—you—in 1995. Welcome, Jonipher Kwong and Wendy von Zirpolo.




JONIPHER KWONG: I can't quite hear you. I traveled 15 hours to hear you say aloha, you know.


JONIPHER KWONG: Much better. I'm Jonipher, and along with—


JONIPHER KWONG: --Walter, Tracy, Carrie, Ben, Taquina, and Jackie, not in that order—although, don't you just love our selfie? We serve under—yeah, Ellen DeGeneres, eat your heart out. We serve on your Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee. So what we do is we basically take selfies from time to time of where our religious movement is when it comes to anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and multicultural work.

WENDY VON ZIRPOLO: In recent years, those selfies have taken the form of reports on our credentialing process and how we select, support, train, and retain volunteer leaders. Those reports have been made available to those most closely involved with each of those roles, along with affirmations and also recommendations. Following our last reports, we shifted gears a bit.

Rather than focus on a specific piece of our association, our discernment called us back to you. We decided to find a way to assess the larger question of how we are doing on our journey with the goal of coming back not to the board or to a committee, but to you. What we could not have known is that some others were thinking along the same lines.

JONIPHER KWONG: Some of you may recall a responsive resolution at last year's GA entitled Deepen Our Commitment to an Anti-oppressive, Multicultural Unitarian Universalist Association. Or not. Some of you like me may not even remember what you had for lunch. So let me refresh your memory. A portion of the resolution asks the JTWTC to assess the financial and staff resources currently devoted to this work, including those who supporting organizations that empower marginalized populations.

In other words, show us the money. We were asked to provide an analysis of these expenditures relative to other allocations. Toward that end, we are in the process of gathering data. We came to realize, however, levels of complexity involved in accurately isolating funds solely devoted to various groups. The tasks will require engagement with the administration and organizations referenced by the resolution.

Also, to be true to the intent of the resolution, we wanted to meet with the authors themselves. We want to hear more about the experiences that led them to that moment at last year's GA.

WENDY VON ZIRPOLO: We want the authors of that resolution and all who supported it and you to hear that this new charge has informed our current work and also affirmed our supposition that answers about the progress on our journey may differ, depending upon our various identity groups. The data that we obtain—quantitative and qualitative—will not be an ending point for the JTWTC, but offer critically important data into the question of how we're doing.

Beyond that resolution, we've also identified places where we think that a slice of the journey is going particularly well. Yesterday, we held a conversation cafe showcasing energy centers. We even had a menu. Our energy centers were First Unitarian Church of San Jose, California, All Souls Unitarian Church from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mutual Aid from Carrboro, North Carolina, Awake Ministries from Annapolis, Maryland, First UU San Diego, California, and the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal in New Orleans, Louisiana.

We'll post this menu along with their five minute presentations from our cafe on our Facebook page so that others may be in conversation. Because this includes contact information. They welcome your questions and reflections as they share their stories.

JONIPHER KWONG: We're also continuing our interviews, since it was such a hit last year. So feel free to stop one of us if you see us in the hallways and asked to be filmed. You, too, could become a star. It's actually quite simple. We're just asking you three basic questions. One, what have we accomplished so far on our journey toward becoming an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and multicultural movement?

Two, where are we now, really? And three, do you have a specific story you'd like to share with us? Here's some of what we've heard so far.

JULIE BROCK: --accomplished since 1997 as far as multicultural faith community growth is concerned. So I think that our faith is doing a really, really good job of bringing in people's awareness that they need to be active in this work. I think the second thing that we done is an accountability process politically, or our polity. The restructuring of the board to have an intentional inclusiveness of different voices is amazing.

REV. DR. MONICA CUMMINGS: One of the things that I think the Journey Towards Wholeness Committee accomplished during the time I was on the committee was helping the association look at language and how important language is in terms of being inclusive of people who have identities that have been marginalized.

MICHAEL SALWASSER: Where we are now is it's still too much at the leadership and not enough in the whole institution being aware. I think our leadership is prepared to lead, but I think people themselves are where we need to be [INAUDIBLE]. The members in our congregations and our churches, that they really understand what their role is and how they can be part of this journey.

ANNETTE MARQUIS: As we continue to resource congregations, to help congregations do the work that they need to do, we see that evidence in how they're able to do things like Moral Mondays in North Carolina and the world that's going on in terms of public protest and partnership with the NAACP, and our congregation's just doing amazing work. So I see that those kind of things really have been the best indicators of where we are.

WENDY VON ZIRPOLO: Now you've heard something of what other people have to say, how about you? In 1997, the delegates here said that we should be on this journey. Last year, the delegates here called for re-commitment. Our goal is to come back to you with an accurate assessment and recommendations on how we're doing. We believe that there are important stories and testimonies that will help us to fulfill that charge.

Stories of faithful success, faithful risking, and faithful failure. We need your help.

JONIPHER KWONG: Here's how. Please take a moment to take out your smartphone. And even if you have an intellectually challenged phone, please feel free to take it out as long as you can text someone with it. And text your email address to the following number. Area code 617-306-1422. That's 617-306-1422. I'll give you a moment to do that. One more time. 617-306-1422.

What we'll commit to doing is sending each of you a link to our online survey. And we really hope that you'll take time to respond. You can answer online, send us an email, engage your congregation in answering these questions, and even post your own video response to our Facebook page. And while you're there, make sure to hit the like button, because we could certainly use the validation. Mahalo nui loa.



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