Dialogue Process Guide
The participants in the 1998 Baltimore Urban Ministries Conference indicated that one of their highest priorities was finding resources for addressing issues of class. As one response to that expressed priority, a conference dialogue on theology, class and race was part of the 2001 Urban Ministries Conference program.
Outline for Dialogue Process
- Small groups gather at round tables. Each group is asked to identify a facilitator (attends to time and encourages everyone to participate) and a recorder (makes notes of themes, issues and questions.)
- Opening reflections set the stage for each session of conversation.
- After the opening reflection, groups are asked to focus on guiding questions for that session as indicated in the dialogue handout. Groups are asked to engage in small group discussion and developing a collective response to the questions
- There are two opportunities for check-in. About mid-way through the small group conversations there is a brief time for one or two groups to have a representative share out with the whole group an issue, question or insight to help further the dialogue. A similar opportunity is available just before the session ends.
- At a break (mid-way through the session and after the mid point check-in) we took time for singing as well as stretching and refreshment.
- Each session concluded with a closing reflection on the morning's work and preparing to move into the rest of the day.
- Each of the four parts and the wrap up can be a session unto themselves. Pick and choose from among the questions and/or develop your own.
Part 1: Starting with the Particulars
- How has your family and personal background affected how you understand class?
- What is the heart of your Unitarian Universalism (UUism)?
- How does your class location affect your spiritual life within UUism?
- What is your conception of God (or whatever word you use for the Ultimate); where does that come from, and what does it have to do with class?
Part 2: Class and UUism
- How does class operate in UUism?
- How does our worship style reflect class?
- How does our religious language reflect class?
- Is "class passing" a factor in our life together? By what formal (bylaws, policies) and informal (norms) ways do we include low income people in UUism and how do we "manage" the mixture of classes pledging, fundraising, volunteer work, leadership, social events, etc?
Part 3: Our Theological Resources
- What theological resources do we have for dealing with issues of class?
- What theological resources do we need?
- How do our theological assumptions affect our ability to address issues of class?
A few assumptions as thought provokers:
- If our work with class and race is reasoned and researched well, the results we desire will follow;
- we "know" that ends we seek are "right, good and honest";
- we are really concerned about people and not the abstract idea of equality; when our theological understanding of race as related to class includes an understanding of our own ethnic history, we will "see" our own racism.
Part 4: An Anti-Classist Unitarian Universalist Association
- What does an anti-classist Unitarian Universalist Association look like?
- How will we get there?
- What is the relationship of class, race, gender, and culture?
- How will this impact our anti racism work?
Reflection, commentary, conversation