Session 4: Strategy and What's Next


  • Chalice or candle and lighter, or LED battery-operated candle
  • Computer with Internet connection
  • Covenant, from Session 1
  • Optional: Timer
  • Optional (in-person): Newsprint, markers, and tape; paper and pens or pencils


  • Send an email to participants a week ahead of time. Include the date, time, and location/link for the upcoming meeting. Include the following:
    In our session we will begin to build strategies to make change in our congregation(s). Please consider these helpful questions for creating a strategy. We will talk through these when we meet.

Helpful Questions for Creating a Strategy

What changes will have most impact for achieving our intention?

What power do we (change-seekers) have to make change? Who else holds power to block change or to make change possible?

What relationships do we need to develop?

What methods do we use (what actions)?

What will compel those with the power to deliver the change the community needs?

How will we sustain ourselves, as we face opposition or burn-out?

How do we measure outcomes?

How can we sustain the changes we make?

  • Prepare the group’s covenant from Session 1 to post in the Chat.
  • Prepare a Google document and share the link to it with all participants via email. Include:
    • The UU programs and resources bullet-listed under “Learning and Change in UUism Today.”
    • The Helpful Questions for Creating a Strategy, listed above and again, below, in “What’s Next on Our Road to Beloved Community.”
  • Open your Jamboard. Add as many pages as you may have breakout “strategy” groups (groups of two or three participants are recommended). On each Jamboard page, paste the Helpful Questions.
  • Set out the chalice.
  • Open your Zoom meeting 10 minutes before your group’s start time. Enable Live Captioning.
  • Note: The discussion guide authors suggest you move through this session without offering a collective break, so that strategy planning is not disrupted. Instead, encourage participants to take any breaks they individually need.

Chalice Lighting (5 minutes)

Share this reading, from a blessing by Rev. Tania Márquez, “Do Not Fear Agitation,” in English and Spanish on the UUA’s WorshipWeb.

Do not fear agitation, for agitation is the rhythm of life itself; to be put into motion, to be stirred.

Do not fear the movements that decenter what you always thought permanent.

You carry within the center of your understanding, the compass to show you the way.

Light the chalice.

Check-In/Covenant review (10 minutes)

Invite the group to briefly check in. Remind them that you will invite someone to begin and from there they will use Mutual Invitation to ensure everyone has a chance to speak. Suggest they check in with a one-sentence response to this prompt:

  • What thought or question has come to you since we last met, about the story of your faith community’s road to Beloved Community?

Share the group covenant in the Chat. Read it aloud or ask participants to do so.

Learning and Change within Unitarian Universalism Today (15 minutes)


The discussion guide authors want you to know about current programs and resources within our UU movement that can inspire and support you going forward from here. A central resource to shape our path is the report from the UUA Commission on Institutional Change, “Widening the Circle of Concern.” The report recommends practices to live into across many facets of congregational life: theology, religious professionals, hospitality and inclusion, and more. There is now a study/action guide for congregations to use in implementing those recommendations.

Invite the group to share about additional tools and support currently in use in Unitarian Universalism’s movement-wide journey toward Beloved Community. Ask if participants have experienced or know of antiracism learning and action opportunities beyond the congregation.

Invite participants to view the Google doc where you have posted the list below. Put the link to the Google doc in the Chat. Tell them they may wish to download the Google doc for later use.

Invite participants to share briefly their knowledge or experiences of these programs. Encourage them to explore the links after the session.

In the Chat, share the link to this recording on YouTube from August 10, 2022, when co-authors Karin and Nancy visited the 8th Principle Learning Community’s online gathering. Say that the co-authors talk in depth about Mistakes and Miracles with lay leaders from a variety of congregations.

What’s Next on Our Road to Beloved Community (45 minutes)


It can be daunting to map out a strategy for change. Here are some helpful questions for creating a strategy.

Invite participants to find the Helpful Questions in the Google doc. Also, copy the list of questions and paste it into the Chat.

Say that we need to know our intentions first, and then build a strategy. Invite the group to hold their intentions to heart as they consider the following questions. Read the questions aloud slowly, pausing between them.

Helpful Questions for Creating a Strategy

What changes will have most impact for achieving our intention?

What power do we (change-seekers) have to make change? Who else holds power to block change or to make change possible?

What relationships do we need to develop?

What methods do we use (what actions)?

What will compel those with the power to deliver the change the community needs?

How will we sustain ourselves, as we face opposition or burn-out?

How do we measure outcomes?

How can we sustain the changes we make?

Paste the Jamboard link in the Chat and invite participants to open the Jamboard. Remind participants that the Helpful Questions are also in the Google doc. Remind them that they can download the Google doc.

Say that you will help participants unpack the Helpful Questions using an example from Mistakes and Miracles. Then, you will invite them to work in pairs or triads to apply the questions to their own faith community’s intentions for change…and begin to shape a strategy.


In San José, where many members and local community members spoke Spanish, change-makers wanted to build a multiculturally diverse faith community. That was their intention. Let’s look at their strategy to achieve that intention, using some of the helpful questions we’re working with.

Share these questions and the answers that apply to San José:

Q: What changes will have most impact for achieving our intention?

  • Offer Spanish-language worship to meet the needs of a spiritually under-nourished part of the congregation.

Q: What power do we (change-seekers) have to make change? Who else holds power to block change or to make change possible?

  • Senior minister Rev. Lindi had power as a leader; basement-meeting group of the people doing the translation work plus the visioning had the power to set direction; congregants who would fund the changes held monetary power, although they weren’t necessarily initially supporters of the change.

Q: What relationships do we need to develop?

  • More people in the congregation were needed to support the change. The change-makers needed to demonstrate the value of adding Spanish worship in order to engage the wider congregation’s support.

Q: What methods do we use (what actions)?

  • The change-seeking group created a compelling vision with enough work toward completion to convince the congregation that Spanish-language worship was do-able, affordable, and worth it. Rev. Lindi invited the broader congregation into conversations about it. Then, they began to hold services in Spanish and include some Spanish in general worship. While some congregants objected, the change-seekers decided to, in Rev. Lindi’s words, “pay attention to the health and build on it.”

Q: How do we measure outcomes?

  • The Spanish worship—the original desired outcome—kept going for 20 years because of the leaders’ flexibility, and national attention and support.
  • After sunsetting Spanish worship, the congregation continued moving toward multiculturalism by engaging in renewed antiracism work. The increase of interest in learning and leaning into multiculturalism is another outcome that could by measured by how many or what percentage of congregants participate.

Q: How can we sustain the changes we make?

  • Think about the greater purpose as well as the specific change. In San José, the desired outcome was greater than adding Spanish-language worship. It was a change of mindset in the congregation that the needs of any congregants who are racially, culturally different from the dominant group are the needs of the whole congregation. This greater outcome is sustained because now a larger group than the original group working for Spanish-language ministry is committed to the greater purpose.

Now invite participants to apply the questions to an intention for change in their own congregation. Offer some examples:

  • If the congregation listens only to white European-rooted music in worship, an intention could be to diversify the sources of music. A change might be to find partners from other cultural traditions, perhaps from outside the congregation, to collaborate on worship music. Another could be to support music and worship leaders with multicultural education around music sources and appropriate uses and context.
  • An intention could be to introduce more members of the congregation to antiracism learning; the change might be to introduce a course such as Jubilee Three.

Decide on your breakout rooms of two or three people. Keep co-congregants together as best you can. Give each group a number or name they can use to “claim” a page on the Jamboard.

Send participants to breakout rooms with these instructions:

  • Identify a real intention for their congregation that would move them toward antiracist, anti-oppressive, multicultural Beloved Community.
  • Try in your small group to build a doable strategy to move that intention forward. Consider as many of the Helpful Questions as you can. Don’t worry if you do not finish.
  • Remember, you have learned a lot from what the congregations in the book have done. Consider what you might borrow from them, and what particularly does your congregation need?

Bring the group back together to share their ideas for changes and potential strategies to achieve them. Make sure you allocate time for each breakout group to present as well as time for the entire group to discuss all the ideas. After the breakout group presentations, use Mutual Invitation to guide the wider discussion.

If your group is from a single congregation, lead a discussion to focus on which ideas have the most “heat” for them, which feel most pressing and/or doable. Can the group come to a consensus about which intention and change to pursue first?

To close out this session, use Mutual Invitation so that each participant can share what initiative they’re willing to commit to for a next move. Say:

It’s OK if some are not ready to commit. And remember, it’s OK to be uncomfortable!

Note participants’ names as the commitments emerge. Invite participants to find a next time to meet. If you have time, form new breakout groups so they can get started. Tell them how much time they will have in this breakout group and ask them to prioritize setting a next meeting.

Closing (10 minutes)

Invite participants to celebrate their conversation, creativity, hope, commitment, and participation—the “showing up.” Invite them to share in a sentence or phrase what has changed for them since the first meeting of this group. Offer a minute for silent reflection first, so they are able to check in with a thoughtful sentence or phrase. Lead the check-out by Mutual Invitation.

Share these words, from a poem by Rev. Marta Valentín quoted in Mistakes and Miracles:

We humans of color have always reached for something more,
exercising and building up quite a resilient muscle
that is necessary against the many gatekeepers
still trying to deter us.

… If the pale center responds to the call for something more
they will turn and face the edges where we are,
a rainbow of faces and cultures
engaging in a Unitarian Universalism
that breathes love into its very core
from our well-worn hearts;
they will find us no longer waiting
but creating a Unitarian Universalism of our own
for everyone.

Extinguish the chalice.