- Newsprint, markers, and wall-safe tape
- Handout 2, "I" to "We": From Individualism to Collective Identity
- Copy Handout 2 for all participants.
- Decide which areas of your congregational culture you will ask each group of three to consider. Depending on your context, you might choose leadership meetings, worship, family ministry, social justice ministry, paths to membership, hospitality to visitors, or stewardship.
Unitarian Universalist leaders are examining how individualism in our congregations mirrors some of the unhealthy practices of the dominant white U.S. culture. In her book Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership in a Multicultural Age, Juana Bordas explores leadership approaches in Latinx, Black, and Indigenous communities and invites those who are not part of these communities to learn from them. She writes of “we” culture in these communities, contrasting it with the “I” culture that prevails in the U.S. today.
Ask for examples of “I” culture—meaning, individualism—in our congregation, and take three or four quick responses. Distribute Handout 2, and ask participants to read the descriptions of “we” culture. Invite brief observations and comments.
Note that both the congregational covenant and the Harvest the Power covenant call us away from a focus on “I” and toward a more relational “we” culture. Invite the group to explore what congregational practices would support and strengthen a “we” culture. Form groups of three participants and give each group newsprint and markers. Assign each group an area of congregational culture to consider. Ask them to think about how your congregation currently centers people and relationships in that area of congregational life. What practices might be initiated or strengthened to build relationships between people? What practices might invite those with marginalized identities to bring their whole selves to this faith community? Tell groups that they will have 15 minutes to work.
Ask each group to post their newsprint and share their suggestions with the whole group.
Ask the group to discuss the following questions. Invite a participant to take some notes on this discussion for later use.
- What suggestions and observations from this exercise might we want to consider more thoroughly at a future business meeting or retreat?
How might we incorporate this exercise into our conversations and discussions with the leaders and volunteers of various committees and groups in our congregation?