Love Right Through – The Journey Continues

By Carlton Elliott Smith

For those who might not have been able to make it to Regional Assembly, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the highlights here in the blog:

Land Acknowledgment by Kia Bordner, Member of the Pacific Southwest District Board: “We Unitarian Universalists recognize that the land we're occupying and worshipping upon is stolen. We also honor and acknowledge that we as a beloved community are comprised of Indigenous and First Nations people, descendants of enslaved Africans, settler colonizers, non-settler immigrants, and recent immigrants documented and undocumented alike. We acknowledge the forced removals of Indigenous and First Nations people, their ongoing stewardship and their continued fight to live and thrive on Indigenous and First Nations ancestral lands. With this land acknowledgement we recommit ourselves to also being stewards of all the lands that non-indigenous UUs now call the UUA Pacific western region.”

UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray: “At the UUA, we are creating a strategic plan to implement the essential recommendations of the Commission on Institutional Change's comprehensive report Widening the Circle of Concern. This will lead to change, long-term change, throughout our Association, and I invite you and your congregation to work with us and imagine creative ways your congregation can take up these important practices for culture change inside and out. We are living at a precipice. So much is on the line. And as Naomi Klein reminded us during last year's Ware Lecture at our General Assembly, this is no time to lose our nerve. We need to keep on loving right through. Thank you. Each and every one of you for your commitment to this life-giving, life-saving faith.”

The District Boards of the Pacific Western Region chose The Mountain Top – A UU BIPoC Community as the recipient of the first Widening the Circle of Concern Award, for “taking significant congregational action based on the recommendations of the Widening the Circle of Concern Report and in recognition of their efforts to foster diversity, equity and inclusion.” Learn more about The Mountain Top and the Honoroable Mentions for the Widening the Circle of Concern Award.

Rev. Leslie Takahashi, Chair of the Commission on Institutional Change (2017-2020): “I think in the world that we're living we wake up every day realizing that our legacy of what Dr. Elias Ortega calls our "collective salvation" is really one of our greatest assets, and never greater than in the times that we live in right now. So I hope that you all are in your congregations having the opportunity to dive into the Widening the Circle report, to participate in the study guides, to begin to think about how we can extend hospitality, and also to make ourselves a place of sanctuary in these times for what we know now we cannot unknow, and we cannot unknow the lessons of the last years. And in that spirit we need to deepen our ability to become place of solace and sanctuary for we know that the changes before us, will continue and that the challenges before us will continue. And that we need places to gather in the spirit of love.”

Director of Congregational Life Jessica York: “[I]t can be hard in the midst of all of this loss and struggle to recognize and practice living in abundance. And yet the stories that we have shared today, during this assembly and our small groups in our workshops and our caucus spaces, demonstrate how you have lived abundantly. How you continue to do so. How, earnestly you want to do so even when it is hard. You have shown up on the side of love. You have reached out to each other and lived into our covenant of associations in ways that we have never seen before. You have shared staff, you've shared experiences, you've shared finances, through the annual program fund, and the disaster relief fund. You've shared leadership on the local, regional and national level. Now 2021 will be different from 2020. But we don't have any promise that it's going to necessarily be an easier year. And because of that, we do need to continue to love right through. And to live abundantly. To practice gratitude for whatever the year may bring.”

UUA Co-Moderator Charles Du Mond: “The board has focused its education time on the topic of Disability Justice. This includes language, not just the use of individual words that are problematic, but also the need for plain language. I think it's fair to say many Unitarian Universalists are fond of complicated language and sentence structure. But is that equitable and accessible? Can the board produce documents that are easily understood by all? And there's much more, but this is one topic. Here's the pitch [for] leadership development. As the structure of our regions and districts has changed, the usual channels of leadership development have modified or disappeared. We need more leaders at the association level. We have plenty of opportunities on UUA committees. So, please visit the UUA website and volunteer for a UUA committee commission or board, you will be welcomed.”

As I said in my remarks toward the end of the day, Love Right Through is the continuing theme over the next several months in the life of the Pacific Western Region as we discern together what the next phase of being a region will look like.

With that in mind, we hope as many of you as possible will make yourselves available for the upcoming Love Right Through Forums on the first and third Mondays, 6:30pm – 8:00pm PT, March 1 through May 17. March 1, we will be joined by Rev. Leslie Takahashi as we discuss how the next phase of regional life could support the recommendations of the Widening the Circle of Concern report. You can register for Love Right Through Forums register for Love Right Through Forums and upcoming workshops online

Hope to see many of you there! Thank you again for making our first all-virtual Pacific Western Regional Assembly as successful as it was.

In faith,

About the Author

Carlton Elliott Smith

Rev. Carlton E. Smith is the Regional Lead for the Pacific Western Region. From 2013 to 2020, he was a member of the UUA Congregational Life Staff Group serving in the Southern Region....


For more information contact .