Toward the Beloved Community: Updates from the Interim Co-Presidents, May 9, 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 Tuesday morning:
Over the past three weeks we have spoken frequently about the hope-filled possibilities inherent in this moment for our Unitarian Universalist movement. That leaning into hope is based in large part from the powerful healing impact of truth and reconciliation commissions following times of extreme conflict around the globe. We know the importance of truth telling, just as we understand that it is the long-term work of justice that leads to reconciliation in community. We also remind ourselves regularly that high emotions, the kind born of strong commitments to this faith that we love, often serve to shape our understandings of the truth. Moments like these require intentional processing, and careful listening. The way before us will not be achieved in ten short weeks of interim leadership at the upper levels of the UUA staff. Instead, it will be broad-based and faithful ongoing work that carries the potential for sustainable cultural change.
It is important to remember that the Commission on Institutional Change called for by our UUA Board of Trustees will be directing our process going forward. We want to assure you that the people most directly involved in, and impacted by, the hiring decision which prompted this moment of opportunity in Unitarian Universalism will have a chance to tell their stories to the Commission. That is critical work, and the primary focus of the Commission will remain on the impact of white supremacy on Unitarian Universalism as a whole.
The plans for and scope of work of that Commission are early in development. Later this week we are bringing together a small group of leaders connected to our UU constituency groups to partner with us to envision the construction of the Commission. These leaders all identify as people of color, because we believe it is critical for the Commission’s foundation to be rooted in the vision of Unitarian Universalists of color. With input from that group to inform us, our eventual task is to appoint a small and nimble group of commissioners who will work collaboratively with an outside organization to bring badly needed analysis, visioning, and theological depth to these efforts. That Commission may continue for 18 months or more. In the meantime, work on new interim hiring policies for the UUA continues to move forward. You can expect a more specific report from us on those policies in the next few weeks.
We want to acknowledge how emotional these times are for us as a community of faith, knowing that there are those among us whose personal and professional lives are immediately and directly affected and are often being discussed and debated in the public square. These are times for us to engage and communicate out of our most faithful selves, mindful of our first principle, striving to maintain relationship even when deeply held opinions vary. We invite you to join us in embracing these moments of opportunity for finding a new way forward.