UUA Continental Conference on Urban Ministries
Racial Justice & Multicultural Ministries

Building Our Faith; Building Our Cities

Congress Plaza Hotel
Chicago, IL 60605
March 8-11, 2001

This conference was for Unitarian Universalists from congregations and organizations committed to urban ministry through location, programs, projects, interest or funding. Our goals were to build our skills, our networks, and a deeper faith; remembering that it is our calling to help build cities committed to justice.

Third Urban Ministry Conference Begins with Music, Celebration, and Challenge for the Future

(Chicago, IL, March 8, 2001)

The third Continental Conference on Urban Ministry began on Thursday, March 8 at the Congress Plaza Hotel with Rev. Mary Grigolia's piece, "Are You Ready to Sing," led by the Urban Ministry conference Choir. The choir, under the direction of Roberta Wallis, music director of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Congregation of the Palisades (New Jersey), energized the audience, seated in the ballroom of the stately hotel which was built in 1898.

One hundred and seventy people from across the continent have registered for this conference, which builds on the success of the first gathering, held in New Orleans in 1997, and a second conference, held in Baltimore in 1999. Following a chalice lighting that honored the work that all UUs do together, a musical 'geographical cheer' was offered, celebrating the places UUs have come from in traveling to the conference.

Rev. Tracey Robinson-Harris, deputy director of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Department of Congregational, District and Extension Services, welcomed the group and introduced members of the local planning committee for the conference, who comprise the UU Urban Coalition of Chicago. Also thanked was Robin Nikora Dorson, Administrator of the department of Congregational, District and Extension Services, and coordinator of the event.

Members of each of the Chicago congregations that make up the UU Urban Church Council, welcomed those in attendance. Richard Pardo, past president of the UU Urban Church Council, talked about the impact of UUism on Chicago, noting particularly the Chicago Childrens Choir, which was started by the Rev. Christopher Moore. The Council, Pardo said, wants to strengthen the congregations and the voice of UUism in the community.

Following another musical selection, "So Glad I'm Here," by the conference choir, the Rev. William Sinkford, Director of the Department of Congregational, district and extension services, introduced the keynote speaker (PDF, 5 pages) for the evening. Imam Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid is the spiritual leader of one of the oldest extant Sunni Muslim congregations in America, the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, Inc., located in Harlem, NYC. The Imam will remain at the Urban Church conference and will facilitate feedback discussions on his keynote address during the weekend.

The UUA's Urban Church Conference continues at the Congress Plaza Hotel through Sunday mid-day.