“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. Ours is no caravan of despair. Come, yet again, come”. These famous words of the prophet Jalal al-Din Rumi, – may he be forever remembered, often ring throughout our Unitarian Universalist congregations on any given Sunday morning welcoming the stranger and providing comfort to those present. And with good reason.
Many LGBTQ folks have found our way into our congregations seeking a religious community that affirms all of who we are, and we are often encouraged to take on leadership roles throughout the congregation. So much so that Unitarian Universalists have long led the way in ordaining LGBTQ folks, have led efforts during the first HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and of recent note, Unitarian Universalists have led the way winning the struggle for Same-Sex Marriage (June 26, 2017). We have also had hundreds of congregations that have become “Welcoming Congregations” over the last 25 years. Yet, with all these amazing, sacred, accomplishments under our belt, there is more work to do. Especially as it relates to the current HIV/AIDS crisis impacting our communities.
A glimpse at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention HIV/AIDS Statistics for 2016 show 33,220 newly diagnosed persons throughout the United States. Our work to acknowledge that HIV/AIDS is still among us as Unitarian Universalists and that it is still a crisis in our communities is not complete. Moreover, there are people within our congregations living with HIV/AIDS, and there is a crisis I am not sure we are seeing.
HIV/AIDS is impacting all of our communities, and people of color at higher rates. Where is our welcome now, particularly as it relates to this reality in our midst? What will it take for our congregations to become as galvanized for this crisis as it has done throughout our collective histories related to LGBTQ folks being ordained, joining the ACT UP fight and in the fight for marriage equality?
My prayer is this, may we not let our accomplishments for Unitarian Universalist LGBTQ justice of our past be the focus of our today. Also, as we face our struggles and work to end white supremacy culture in our Unitarian Universalist congregations, we must also rise up for this crisis, NOW!!! We must add our laser beam focus, as we have always done, to support those folks of color and organizations led by folks of color in our communities who are on the ground engaging this crisis.
I am hopeful that with the work necessary to address this crisis in our communities, we can meet this challenge to keep the welcome in our congregations.
May it be so! Ashe, Blessed Be, Salaam, Shalom and AMEN!!!!