Gleanings from “Widening the Circle”

The following is personal exploration into the first few chapters of the text, Widening the Circle of Concern: Report of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change – June 2020.

This text is available free as a pdf. The following notes represent my own gleanings of statements that seemed important to me. Direct quotes from the text are indicated with quote markings. Other statements are adapted or paraphrased to make sense out of context.

NOTE to the UUSA Board of Trustees…. I wonder if it might be useful to share these quotes in the weekly UUSA Newsletter, as proposed at the most recent Board meeting?

Gleanings from the Preface

“Addressing the perennial problem of race in Unitarian Universalism is not broadly seen as a theological mandate.”

We need new definitions of multicultural competency for religious leaders (including lay leadership).

“Too few white people are engaged in intentional anti-oppression work.”

We need to articulate what a liberation theology could look like for UU’s.

Gleanings from the Introduction

To keep Unitarian Universalism alive, we must center the voices that have been drowned out.

The patterns and habits of white supremacy culture are often unacknowledged, unrecognized, or openly denied.

Gleanings from the chapter on Trends

“Fewer people are participating in religious communities.”

“As institutional religion declines, more who enter our doors are not refugees from other faiths, but are experiencing faith communities for the first time.”

Those who came to UU in the 1960’s-80’s were interested in getting away from religious practices that seemed non-rational. UU was attractive for what it was not (it was not creedal or hierarchical) and the emphasis in those days was on personal freedom.

Some of us believe the UU that attracted us to the congregation should continue to attract people in the future. Others believe change is needed to widen the circle of concern. Maybe both are true?

Some of us believe the work to promote equity, inclusion, and diversity is optional. Others believe it is a fundamental spiritual necessity.

“Our time as a haven or social club for those disaffected by other religions has passed. In searing times of political division, climate change, economic polarization, and global strife, people need a sustaining faith.”

While “…we continue to attract a greater diversity of people, we retain a very small percentage of those who do not match the resourced, white, aging majority within our congregation.”

Gleanings from the chapter on Theology

In general, we have not engaged in theological discernment – together.

“Re-engaging with our theological legacy and its use today will both ground our efforts to welcome all who are drawn to our faith and provide resources for resilience for UU’s in these difficult times.”

“Reinterpretation of our theological legacies in these times should be liberatory and articulate our commitment to affirming and welcoming those who have been marginalized in our larger society and within our communities and organizations.”

“Acknowledgment of anti-oppression work as a theological mandate is essential.”

“If freedom and individualism are our most important values, we have little to offer in these times.

“Education about the covenantal nature of our faith will allow communities to support and nurture one another as the overall U.S. climate becomes more hostile to and disinterested in a life of faith.”

“Faith and covenant are not dirty words.”

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In addition, I have posted a blog here exploring the Beloved Community.

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