I was reading the booklet, “Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community: Changing the Nature of the Conversation” the other day as homework for a webinar course I am taking. Its focus is “about the methodology for creating a future for our community that is distinct from and not predicted by its past. Creating a future is different than naming a future…the way we create conversations that overcome the fragmented nature of our communities is what creates an alternative future.” I was reading this booklet through the lens of my perception of where WUUC is at the moment. Some of us in leadership have been naming WUUC’s future. Some of that naming has not resonated well with some folks. I am grateful to those who have been brave enough to talk to me directly about their concerns. Where we are, in my opinion, is at the place of needing to have conversations that create our future.
We need to be able to have conversations about race, racism, and white supremacy without fear of retribution or being out of step or not being politically correct enough. We need to be able to openly and honestly ask questions in a safe space knowing that we will be heard, not judged. We need to speak our truth to one another even when it is uncomfortable or we do not agree. Ministry is for all who are in our community- especially for those who dissent. In religious community we use the words “covenant” and “right relationship.” In the secular booklet I was reading, they talked about “accountability.” I found their take to be very helpful:
“Accountable, among other things, means you act as an owner and part creator of whatever it is that you wish to improve. In the absence of this, you are in the position of effect, not cause… a powerless stance. To be accountable is to care for the well-being of the whole and act as if this well-being is in our hands and hearts to create. This kind of accountability is created through the conversations we have with each other…”
Your Board is committed to having such conversations and is actively working with the Healthy Congregations Team in the District to figure out how to best have that happen at WUUC. The hard part when it comes to these conversations is that those whose voices – often those of dissent – stay away from rather than engage in such conversations. As the booklet says, “This recognizes that for every gathering there are those not in the room who are needed. Those who accept the first call will bring the next circle of people into the conversation.”
There will not be just one conversation. There will be many. I ask you to respond when the invitation to conversations are sent out. That your response is showing up and speaking your truth. None of us is powerless in this conversation. Truly, the well-being of this community is in your hearts, words, and hands to create.
Peace, Shalom, Salaam,