Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building the World We Dream About: An Anti-racism Multicultural Program

Handout 8: Case Study Suggestions

  1. A congregation in search of a new minister schedules a Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop for the congregation. (Beyond Categorical Thinking is a UUA program that promotes inclusive thinking and helps prevent unfair discrimination in the ministerial search process.) When the workshop facilitators write up anonymous statements from a workshop exercise about reactions to calling a minister of Color or a Latina/o/Hispanic minister, the comments include "I don't like gospel music. I would be uncomfortable worshipping in Spanish. I would miss intellectual sermons." When Ministerial Search Committee members of African and Latina/o/Hispanic heritage express their discomfort and concerns about the statements to other Search Committee members, responses range from "We shouldn't judge the congregation by one workshop" to "This workshop revealed why we are not more diverse."
  2. A multiracial family that has been part of the congregation for about a year approaches the minister with a request that worship and religious education reflect more multicultural diversity. They have come to the congregation in hopes of finding a theologically liberal faith community where their family will feel at home.
  3. A congregation is making a hiring decision. Members of the hiring committee are strongly urged by the board and other leaders to select a candidate who is a Person of Color, with special emphasis on finding someone who reflects the predominant racial/cultural group of the surrounding community. When the final candidates are selected, there is a disagreement about whether to select the candidate who identifies as a Person of Color but is not of the predominant racial/cultural group of the surrounding community. Individual members of the hiring committee and the governing board say they want the "best" person, although they disagree about which qualities have the highest priority. Some members of the hiring committee and the governing board state that making a race-neutral decision would avoid the appearance of racial preference.
  4. A congregation that has been developing a vision and strategic plan for multiracial/multicultural diversity decides to organize racial/cultural affinity groups as part of their plan. Several influential members who recall the Black Empowerment Movement object to this proposal even though members of the multiracial youth group have been advocating for such groups. A much-admired, interracial couple, who have been dedicated members for more than 40 years, are among those who work to block the formation of affinity groups or caucuses.
  5. The Religious Education Committee decides to take a multicultural approach to worship and to teach diverse religious traditions. To reflect the diversity of religious and cultural traditions in the United States, they decide to add Kwanzaa and Day of the Dead celebrations to their religious education program. A member of the RE Committee questions whether this is cultural appropriation, since the congregation has no African American or Latina/o/Hispanic members. Another committee member makes the case for exposing children to diverse traditions as an educational experience and to teach religious tolerance.
  6. A congregation with a significant number of Jewish members and a number of interfaith families decides to consider changing the designation of their religious community from church to congregation. One member says their spouse/partner will not come to "church," but a name change would make it possible for them to worship as a family. Another member of Jewish heritage says that it is not important what the community is called as long as the religious diversity is welcomed and encouraged. The minister of this congregation is a person of Jewish ancestry, but has not expressed an opinion about the proposed name change. Several humanist members would like to abandon all religious references in the name. Other members feel the name is part of the historic identity of the congregation.
  7. A congregation with two separate Sunday services, one in Spanish and one in English, decide they want to worship together. Challenges emerge as they try to combine the two Sunday constituencies. Some people are uncomfortable worshipping in a language they don't understand. Spanish speakers want to continue to use Spanish. Some English speakers feel a bilingual service will lengthen service beyond traditional time frames they are used to. Some people of Latina/o heritage do not speak Spanish and feel the combined service is just a "politically correct" move on the part of the congregation.
  8. The congregation has just called a minister of Color. The Committee on Ministry has to develop a plan to manage the congregation's expectations around this new minister, and to help support the minister's family.