By Rev. Mary Katherine Morn on July 13, 2020
Last month, Unitarian Universalists gathered virtually for their annual General Assembly. During the five-day gathering, UUs worshipped together, learned about the work of the faith (including UUSC’s work), and did the business of the Association of Congregations. Of great significance was the final report of the UUA’s Commission on Institutional Change, commissioned in 2017 in response to systemic racism within the UUA and UU congregations.
Are we brave enough?
This is one of the questions the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Commission on Institutional Change asked us last month during a report to their annual General Assembly. Are we brave enough? This is not rhetorical flourish.
When we speak to the need for dramatic, extensive, fundamental change, virtually everything points to the unlikelihood that we will be brave enough. One of the commissioners reflected that we have everything we need to transform our institutions and congregations to be consistent with our values, everything we need to become the faith we pray for. And she concluded, “I still ask if we will.”
The Commission’s report, “Widening the Circle of Concern,” tells the story—and the stories—of how a faith movement has fallen short. Again and again. And it calls on institutions connected with Unitarian Universalism to do what is necessary to grow into a movement “marked by full equity and participation.” In other words, to be what we aspire to be.
UUSC is an independent organization founded by Unitarian Universalists and guided by UU principles and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We share history, habits, and hopes with the UUA. Our institution also shares complicity in practices and structures which fall short of the values we profess.
Our mission is to advance human rights and dismantle systems of oppression, and our theory of change calls us into partnership with the communities most affected by injustice; we are called into a moral imperative to support, follow, and amplify their leadership. We believe we are guided by the right values and we understand that we have not always lived up to those values.
At UUSC, addressing racism and building for equity and inclusion is going on at the board level, the executive level, and among all of our staff. It is happening through self-reflection, difficult conversations, the implementation of new policies and processes, mistakes made, learning, strategic planning, and, I hope, courage and imagination. This work is as necessary as it is difficult. Our mission depends on it. And as we strive to place our partners at the center of our mission, our partners depend on it. And our staff deserve nothing less than our full commitment.
We receive the COIC’s report with respect and admiration, understanding ourselves as part of the larger movement that has fallen short, that has perpetuated the harms and trauma of racism and white supremacy. We look forward to answering the call of the Commission and joining with other UU-related institutions in widening the circle of concern.
About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!
Photo Credit: Josh Leach, UUSC