The theme of The Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly 2019 was “The Power of We.” In her thought-provoking and compassionate GA Sunday sermon, The Rev. Marta Valentin addressed this theme.
As Rev. Valentin notes, over the last few years there has been a consistent call from the GA sermons for our Association to move deeper into discernment about the direction our faith must follow to move in the direction of the Beloved Community: Now is the Time, Don’t be distracted by “Fake fights,” This is No Time for a Casual Faith. Rev. Valentin asks us to embrace the understanding that the “Power of We” rests in the South African Bantu concept of Ubuntu: I am because we are.
Read/listen to the sermon/service with these questions in mind:
Who is the “We”? What version of “we” do we uphold theologically and institutionally?
In what ways are we “reliable community”—a community of support and encouragement for one another?
Can our community turn toward the story of Black/Indigenous/People of Color UU? It is not only by knowing more facts but interpretation of facts that can unite or divide us. As Sofia Betancourt said at GA 2018: “We can never be the bearers of love and justice that the world so desperately needs if the foundation that sustains us is still perpetuating the very problem we long to solve.” Can we recognize that there are legitimate and differing interpretation of our past and present? Can we reconcile our differences in love?
How are we complicit in our own “whitewashing” of UUism? Rev. Valentin offers her own experience of re-connecting with the African, Native and Spanish roots she holds but from which she has been separated. At her Ware Lecture, Winona LaDuke said,: “How much and how brave are we in our ability to deconstruct some of the paradigms which we have embraced.”
In considering “I” culture or “We” culture, Rev. Valentin defined “We” culture as requiring speaking respectfully, upholding covenants, listening reflectively, teaching to truth and extending compassion to others we might not care for. Does your UU community operate as a “We” culture?
Rev. Valentin asks us to release what no longer serves us well as faith practices. Are there practices that you are ready to release? What new practices would you welcome into our faith?
Rev. Valentin speaks of the solidarity and survival strategies of POC UU’s. What can be learned from the experiences of People of Color Unitarian Universalists to enrich our faith institutions?