“The multicultural person is someone who is intellectually and emotionally committed to the fundamental unity of all human beings while at the same time [recognizes], legitimizes, accepts, and appreciates the fundamental differences that lie between people from different cultures.” -- Peter Adler
Oftentimes, our congregations seek to become more “diverse” racially by attracting people of color to become members. We still have a low retention rate, however, and more often than not, we hear of microaggressions committed causing pain and hurt for people of color and other historically marginalized communities.
How can we shift our culture to become more inclusive? How can we develop skills to lovingly address racial injustice in our midst? Where might we find ourselves--and our congregations--on a continuum of approaches to cultural difference? And how can we challenge ourselves to learn and grow?
Congregations are taking on this work in standard and unique ways: book discussions on White Fragility, or Centering or Just Mercy, engaging in Beloved Conversations, utilizing the resources from the Pacific Western Region Multicultural Transformation Page or engaging with speakers and organizations in their local community. To assist these efforts, once or twice a month, the Pacific Western Region is offering a Multicultural Transformation Day to a pair or trio of congregations using some specific tools we have found useful.
The Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC) is a theoretical framework developed by Dr. Milton Bennett to describe the process of developing intercultural competency. According to the website: “Developing intercultural competence is a self-reflective, intentional process focused on understanding patterns of difference and commonality between yourself (and your cultural group) and other culture group’s perceptions, values and practices. It is the intentional reflection on the cultural patterns of commonality and difference that will contribute to your intercultural competence development.”
A way to empirically “test” this theory empirically is by using the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), developed by Dr. Mitch Hammer. All participants are encouraged to take the assessment before the workshop. No one will receive individual scores, but the scores will be tallied by congregation (and sub-groupings like the board) so that each group can get a sense of where they are on the developmental scale. If you would like to receive your individual score, that’s an additional $100 per person from a Qualified Administrator to whom we can refer you.
The Pacific Western Region is offering a day-long interactive workshop for the leadership of 2-3 congregations with a total of 20 to 50 participants. This includes taking the IDI ahead of time, viewing introductory videos by Beth Zemsky from the UU Leadership Institute, and optionally, doing a book study of White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. Ultimately, we want you to come up with a plan to move this work forward that grounds this sacred work in our Principles and progressive theology to create culture change in your congregation.
That day typically includes spending the morning reviewing the IDC and going over your group IDI results and unpacking what culture means, including taking a look at your own identity. Since we encourage people of color/indigenous folks to come as well, we will have an opportunity to caucus during lunch if there is critical mass. After lunch, we will explore microaggressions and strategies for dismantling white supremacy culture. We will end the day with some concrete goals and implement a plan to become a more racially just faith tradition by engaging in the work of multicultural transformation.
If you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact The Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kūpono Kwong at firstname.lastname@example.org.