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Special Message from Susan Frederick-Gray
Special Message from Susan Frederick-Gray
Giving & Generosity, Racial Justice & Multicultural Ministries, Multiculturalism, Racial Justice

Dear Unitarian Universalists,

In October 2016, your UUA Board issued a charge to all Unitarian Universalists, calling us to invest collectively and significantly in the leadership and organizing of Black Unitarian Universalists.

We have an extraordinary opportunity to live the most deeply universalist aspect of our theology and to begin to overcome the limitations of our history. Our commitment to raise and invest $5.3 million for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) recognizes that centering black leadership is crucial to building multiracial, multicultural communities and to supporting justice work that is free from white supremacy and paternalism.

Our UUA believes so deeply in this commitment to support BLUU’s ministry that it has put forth $1 million from our endowment. In June, a family joined our UUA in its financial commitment, making a remarkable $1 million gift to encourage and match contributions from our congregations. This family has been committed to racial justice throughout their decades as Unitarian Universalists, and is investing these funds because they agree that it is time to align our finances with our theological. They made this donation a matching opportunity because they want you to join with them and with us as we boldly build the future of our faith.

To be sure, these are challenging times. We are witnessing a demonstrable increase in hate crimes, a resurgence of the KKK, and daily political and spiritual assaults on our collective humanity. At the same time, we are opening our eyes to white supremacy as it exists in the very fabric of our story as a society and a nation. There is much that we must hold simultaneously. In this time, our commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of all people and our collective interdependence call for us to live, invest in, and understand our faith in new ways.

We need to invest in a new generation of leadership. Specifically, we need to invest in Black Leadership and organizing within Unitarian Universalism, for this is the very leadership that can help move our faith forward in the promise and practice of beloved community—a community which practices radical inclusion within, and bold justice leadership for all beyond.

Today, I call each of you to be part of this bold commitment to fulfill the promise to support and center the voices of Black Lives within Unitarian Universalism. 

I invite you to share in the dream and vision of what our faith will look like when we fulfill this radical commitment, when we uphold and center the history, the perspectives, the voices, and the leadership of Black Unitarian Universalists.

As a faith denomination, we are at the leading edge in addressing our own history of upholding white supremacy and working at dismantling it.  We are mending a long-broken promise to the Black lives within our denomination. This fall, I invite you to explore how we are now practicing our promise.  As Unitarian Universalists, we are called to examine our history, and to discover how we have benefited from the lives of Black people, and to share what we learn.

This rich, multi-layered exploration is one that is discussed in more detail at our website. I also invite you to learn about Black Lives of UU, the historical context of their organizing collective, and the powerful work they are doing within and beyond our faith. I am sure you will be inspired, as I have been, by their vision and vibrant ministry.

In order for our work to be truly transformational, I ask every Unitarian Universalist congregation to join in this real and lasting investment in the future of our faith. Indeed, this is the challenge issued by the family who has pledged so generously. In order to receive the matching funds, we must raise $1 million in our congregations this year and next. This challenge calls us to our covenantal promise to one another, and it calls us to be bold as we return wealth that has been historically stolen and make good on promises that were unfulfilled.

To meet this challenge, the donor family has asked congregations to pledge at least $10 per member to this campaign. All gifts are needed, and every gift is appreciated. If your congregation is able to reach the threshold of $10 per member, BLUU will receive a dollar-for-dollar match for your contribution.

We know that you are engaged in the often-exhausting work of guiding your congregation through the troubling daily onslaught of news. Embracing this campaign and engaging in the practice and promise of our faith is one powerful way in which we as Unitarian Universalists can lead in our communities and become the change we want to see in our world. We hope that your congregation will join us and the donor family, and consider gifts that feel inspirational and transformational.

We are all being called to make a commitment that will create enduring impact. For, as a faith community, the investment in Black Lives is an investment in the promise and practice of Beloved Community within Unitarian Universalism. This is about who we are. It is about who we are called to be.  And it is about our collective commitment to nurture a radically inclusive, justice centered, multiracial and multigenerational religious faith for this time. 

Please visit the Promise and Practice webpage, where you can find additional materials and resources for your congregation to use during this campaign and thereafter. 

Yours in gratitude and spirit,

Susan Frederick-Gray

About the Author

  • The Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray is the ninth president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). She was elected in June 2017 to a six-year term. She has served as lead minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix since 2008. She previously served as...

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For more information contact bluu-campaign@uua.org.