Tapestry of Faith: Harvest the Power, 2nd Edition: A Lay Leadership Development Program for Adults

Activity 4: The Margin, the Center

(25 minutes)


  • Newsprint, markers, and wall-safe tape
  • Handout 3, The Margin, the Center
  • Participants’ copies of Handout 2, “I” to “We”: From Individualism to Collective Identity


  • Copy Handout 3 for all participants.


Invite participants to remember the experiences they shared, earlier in the workshop, of mattering and of being marginalized. Ask: “What do your experiences suggest about the importance of leaders attending to both the culture of their meetings and the culture of their congregation?”

Introduce Handout 3 by explaining that in March 2019, UU World published a story that caused significant harm to transgender Unitarian Universalists. Say that the handout is an excerpt from CB Beal’s response, which, although written in response to a particular situation, makes a larger point about inclusion. Do not allow any conversation about the specific situation, in order to keep the focus on this larger point about inclusion. Distribute the handout, and invite participants to read it.

Lead a discussion on Handout 2 and Handout 3, using these questions to help guide the discussion:

  • What is Beal saying? What is their call to Unitarian Universalists?
  • What are the connections between Beal’s post and Juana Bordas’s list of the characteristics of “we” culture?
  • How does this writing deepen, or challenge, our understanding of covenant in Unitarian Universalism?
  • In what ways does our congregation limit the expression and full inclusion of those with marginalized identities in order to make those at the center more comfortable?
  • How might we better center the perspectives of those in our leadership group and those in the larger congregation who hold marginalized identities? How do we live out the covenantal commitment that “all of us means ALL of us?”

As needed, steer participants away from the particulars of the UU World article and toward Beal’s broader points about what inclusion means. To re-focus the conversation or to provide a conclusion, you may wish to repeat this quote from Handout 3:

When we UU’s speak of inclusion but we only mean that people are welcome among us when their identities do not cause us confusion or discomfort, we are not speaking of inclusion. Inclusion without allowing people to be present in their natural state is like simply pouring more milk into rice pudding. It creates a larger mushier dish, which, while still palatable and maybe even delicious for some, is not, in fact, a whole meal. It is not equity. It is not justice.