These past two weeks have been ones of incalculable devastation.
From the grim milestone of 100,000 of our loved ones dead from COVID-19, to the horrific murders of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Breonna Taylor by Louisville police, and Tony McDade by Tallahassee police, to the subsequent spilling over of rage and pain and grief in the uprisings across the country, to the violent, militarized response of police against our people and communities, the brokenness of our world is overwhelming.
On Sunday, I joined the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis for their service. I was grateful to represent UUs across the country in solidarity with Minneapolis, remembering that we are in this together. Together, we prayed for cities and communities all over this country – a prayer for the safety, well-being, and courage of the people. And on Tuesday night, over 10,000 UUs gathered for the #WeCantBreathe vigil led by the Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA) Organizing and Strategy team.
I especially lift in love and prayer Black Unitarian Universalists, and Black people across the United States. Through grief and rage, I pray for your safety, your strength, your life, and your loved ones. May the all-pervading presence of love hold you in power and in tenderness, bringing rest and deep care. And I share this pastoral message for Black UUs from the Rev. Lauren Smith, a member of the UUA’s Executive Leadership Council. I hope you will share it with Black UUs in your congregations.
These are frightening, devastating times, but they are also times of true possibility for a new way to be born. I am so moved by the way that Unitarian Universalists across this country are showing up in brave and powerful ways – as leaders, as organizers, as allies and supporters – showing up to support the Movement for Black Lives, showing up to support the uprisings across our country. And I want you to know that I am with you and the UUA is with you.
The realities of policing and anti-Blackness in our country, in our congregations, and in ourselves are urgent for everyone to interrogate and understand. Don’t turn away from the challenge and truth of the uprisings. This week the UUA issued a statement directly addressing issues of policing and anti-Blackness in the United States and in our tradition.
My own understanding of our systems of policing and criminalization in the U.S. were deeply changed by my ministry in Phoenix, Arizona. I wrote a special President’s column for UU World sharing how I came to support efforts to defund police and move to abolition. I share this message with all UUs, but I speak from my experience as a white American and address my message especially to white Unitarian Universalists.
The prophetic and pastoral needs of our people – in the midst of pandemic and uprising – are real, urgent and daunting. It is important that we plan for how to make capacity for the organizing and justice work that we are called to and the increasing pastoral and spiritual needs in our communities. I don’t know all of what is ahead, but I know that we as Unitarian Universalists need to be ready to respond with our faith out front and ready to care and lead in ways that are needed and asked for.
Reach out to congregations near you, reach out to your colleagues across congregations, reach out to your UUA Regional staff. We are not in this alone and we don’t have to figure it out on our own.
It matters that we support the uprisings whose goal is the liberation of Black people and communities who for too long have been crushed by white supremacy, militarism, and capitalism. We must find the sources within ourselves to give us courage in this moment. To resist. To risk. To sacrifice for this movement that needs all of us to succeed. To be midwives for a new era in which all of us will be free.
Love bless you all today. Spirit of life and love, that never lets us go, be with the freedom fighters – those on the streets and those organizing and supporting from their homes. Gives us all strength and courage to join this movement. Hold us in love and strength as we work to get free and work for a future that is free and thriving.
Yours in love,