Toward the Beloved Community: Updates from the Interim Co-Presidents, May 17, 2017
The Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA) Interim Co-Presidents, the Revs. Sofía Betancourt and William Sinkford and Dr. Leon Spencer, shared the following message this week:
Our work as Interim Co-Presidents is moving rapidly on several fronts. Our plan this week had been to offer an update on the development of interim hiring policies for UUA staff as well as to share some learnings from a gathering of person of color leaders we convened in Atlanta last weekend to begin shaping our imagination for the Commission on Institutional Change. We will provide those updates to you soon, but new events call for a different message this week.
Our faith is a community of memory and hope. Like many Unitarian Universalists, we have been profoundly influenced by the sad news of Jim Key’s illness and consequent resignation from his position as Moderator. Jim’s leadership of our Board of Trustees, and more broadly in our faith, has been a critical element in helping us address other challenges and live through other losses. We hold Jim and Liz in our hearts and send them prayers of support.
Though not the first loss, it is yet one more loss for us to grieve, one more absence in our life together. Jim’s resignation and the resignation of Peter Morales mean that when we gather for our General Assembly in New Orleans, neither of the two highest elected leaders in our faith will be with us. Other senior leaders on the UUA staff have also resigned. We will need to acknowledge these absences.
At the same time, there is tremendous positive energy in Unitarian Universalism that we will celebrate at General Assembly. More than 600 congregations took part in the White Supremacy Teach-In of the last two weeks. BLUU (Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism) calls us to redeem our past and embrace a hopeful future.
There are goodbyes to be said even as we move forward. The positive energy of our re-engagement with racism and privilege calls us to say goodbye to habits and patterns many of us have known for a lifetime. We will not grieve the ending of those patterns and the hurtful results that they have sustained, but we will certainly experience their absence.
Our deepening understanding of community requires us to re-imagine our commitment to the “inherent worth and dignity” of each one of us. We must come to understand a “We” that is as compelling as our affirmation of “I.” Achieving balance between the “I” and the “We” will not be simple. It will require our time and attention and vision.
To say that change is hard may be trite, but it is true.
As we grieve our collective losses, may we hold one another with tenderness. May we resist not only the anxiety and violence of the world around us but also resist our own impulse to claim innocence. A righteous denial of the need for change will ensure that we do not move forward.
What we are embarking upon is deeply religious work. We are called to act as if love is real, and by our living make it so. We are called to insist that the Beloved Community is not just an idle dream. We are called to be present to both our past and to our dreams for the future in this faith of memory and of hope.