Toward the Beloved Community: Updates from the Interim Co-Presidents
The Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA) Interim Co-Presidents, the Revs. Sofia Betancourt and William Sinkford and Dr. Leon Spencer, shared this message following the recent UUA Board of Trustees meeting:
Last Friday and Saturday we attended – two of us (Sofia and Bill) in person and one (Leon) virtually – the first meeting of the UUA’s Board of Trustees since we were appointed interim co-presidents. We wanted to take this opportunity to report some observations about that meeting as we begin our work.
In our report to the Board, the three of us discussed our understanding of the charge we received from the Board and engaged in some initial reflections on how we will engage with that charge. We informed the Board that we envision a two stage process for this work. The first stage, already underway, will review UUA hiring policies, practices and outcomes, and put in place a set of interim policies to ensure that hiring decisions move us toward our vision of the Beloved Community.
The more important second stage – called the Commission in our charge – will address the central question of how the culture of white supremacy operates in Unitarian Universalism, what truth needs to be told, what reconciliation we need to seek, and what vision needs to shape our work together. The three of us are meeting face-to-face for the first time this week to begin planning for how the Commission will address these issues. We already know that the work of the Commission must involve an invitation to our congregations and the larger UU community to engage in discernment about how our aspirations for the Beloved Community need to be embodied in staffing and leadership throughout Unitarian Universalism.
Many of the discussions at this Board meeting were informed by the question of what our faith community and institutions would look like if we centered the experiences of people of color. One such discussion concerned the allocation of General Assembly reserve funds to increase the number of scholarships available to people of color – especially youth and young adults – to attend General Assembly. We were delighted by the Board’s decision to approve increased funding for these scholarships.
The three of us were also gratified by the Board’s continued support for its decision to allocate funds to Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) and were pleased to hear that BLUU feels supported in their work by the Board.
We have heard clearly that trust in UUA leadership has been severely compromised. We understand that beginning to repair this broken trust is part of our leadership challenge. But we also firmly believe that this situation should be viewed as an opportunity, not just a set of problems to be solved. We have an opportunity to reaffirm the hope that is at the center of our faith. As we set about the task of institutional change, we commit as well to a process of healing that leads to spiritual renewal.