Rev. Lisa Presley, Congregational Life Consultant
These are certainly strange, and somewhat anxious, times—just before a national election that will shape the work of our congregations for the next four years, during a pandemic, and while we are entering into the time of year when the sun shines for less time every day. The UU minister and poet Lynn Ungar writes in one of her recent poems about not being able to trust the air between us. Such a true statement about how both the pandemic is shaping our daily interactions and keeping us physically apart, as well as figuratively keeping us apart as the words that enter the air between groups of people illuminate the lack of trust that lies in and between communities. That line has stuck with me as it sometimes feels hard to breathe—watching the news, listening to the divisive language, seeing what is being done to those of marginalized identities—all of this is part of the strange, and somewhat anxious, times.
And then, there’s the election. We don’t know how the election will turn out and it may well take days to tally all the votes. We don’t know what will happen in the aftermath and many are stating that we will have increased unrest and uprising, depending on the results and the response to them. Yet my hopes and prayers are for an easy transition of power, and that we can rework some of the losses of rights that have occurred during the past few years. It is a fraught time.
All that said, your UUA staff is working collaboratively with many other organizations to be able to provide support, and we are encouraging you to link up with organizations in your community to be part of the justice making. Some possibilities for you:
- Join with UU Ministers in a Spiritual Grounding event on Election day, from 10:00 am Eastern-10:00 pm Eastern: Zoom meeting details
- Join the Post-election Vigil and Community Gathering on Facebook on Thursday, November 5, at 7:30 pm Eastern, 6:30 pm Central
- Our Organizing Strategy Team, working closely with the UU Service Committee, is participating in national justice organizing coalitions Frontline Election Defenders and Choose Democracy, which are specifically focusing on election theft and preventing a coup. Together, they have included this content in the UU the Vote Organizing School, hosted a webinar with the UU Ministers Association, and are currently doing more work to engage other UU groups in the same conversation about preparation and asset mapping.
- UU The Vote is one of the places to get more information about how the UUA is responding to the election and the activities that you can join in with.
- Side with Love, our social justice advocacy organization
- Choose Democracy is an organization promoting better use of democracy in our country
- We are encouraging congregations to use an asset map tool to frame their discussions around preparation for large-scale crisis scenarios (companion video here to explain the asset map tool).
These are just some of the things that are happening—feel free to let us know what your congregation is doing. We encourage you all to think about how you will respond and to be faithful to your missions and our Principles. Find your congregation’s primary contact.
And make sure to take time to breathe. Reading all of this can trigger us—some think that this is doomsday thinking, while others believe it is essential. Make sure that you include caring for yourself and loved ones, too—we need to put our oxygen masks on first before we can truly help each other.
We here in MidAmerica give thanks for you and your congregations. As we come to the national day of Thanksgiving (inherent with myriad complexities), may we know that we can love beyond our imaginations, are loved beyond our knowledge, and that our congregations truly help make the world a better place.
Lisa Presley (for the team!)