Sunday, September 29, 2019, 9:15 & 11:15am Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister
As part of honoring this weekend’s Pride Day festivities, our worship on Sunday will focus on the stories that tell how we came to be the congregation we are today, celebrating GLTBQ people as out and proud.<i> Click on title to continue.</i>
On September 14, UUCA welcomed the community and hosted four African American scholars Dr. Summer Carrol (Lenoir-Rhyne University), Dr. Brandi Hinnant-Crawford (Western Carolina University), Dr. Tiece Ruffin (UNCA) and Dr. Darrius Stanley (WCU) who spoke to an audience of over 100 about best practices to close the opportunity gap for Black youth in our public schools. I sat in the audience, grateful that UUCA opened its doors to such a diverse group of community members and that some of our members ensured that all were welcome, fed (lunch was provided) and children taken care of in our beautiful RE spaces. Thank you, to members of Recommitting to Black Lives Matter who shared of their time, talent and treasure to support this gathering.
The presenters began with an overview of the history of slavery and discrimination that ignored the richness and resilience of Black culture and resistance. They explained how the system of white supremacy at the root of the American project made it difficult for black children to integrate in the 1960s. Prof. Stanley quoted Rev. Martin Luther King’s analysis that black children were being integrated into a “burning house.” So what can be done in a culture that is still “on fire” with racism and white nationalist fervor?
The speakers provided examples of how teacher training can shape classroom practices that provide culturally relevant instruction that disrupts white supremacy culture. Culturally relevant instruction validates the identity of black children who are often seen as deficient and expected to conform to white middle class norms. The speakers also emphasized the importance of critically conscious educational leaders who disrupt the systemic practices and policies that disproportionately impact black children. We learned about black history and educational possibilities for supporting positive academic outcomes for black youth. Two youth shared their experiences navigating a system that is often hostile to them. They asked: Can you see us? Why don’t you know us? I wonder, how do we get to know the youth in our community?
Most importantly, Dr Carrol spoke about the need for a revolutionary love that treats all youth like human beings, loves them and is radical enough to bring about change. Her message spoke to that doctrine of love we embrace as UUs. What does that love look like in practice when black youth in our community are being left behind? What can our community do so that the differential funding and wealth gap that favor white over black students are diminished? To reduce the prison-to-school pipeline? The challenge of closing the opportunity gap is a challenge for ALL of us.
With that in mind, the second part of the presentation challenged the audience to explore how to leverage community assets to affect change. The audience counted off to form ten groups. Each group discussed and recorded ideas for how to leverage resources from: churches; libraries & research; community organizations, universities & community colleges; common/shared school spaces; elders; businesses & professionals; neighborhood associations, community centers & parks; food access organizations and community gardens; and community organizers and activists. Just hearing the list of all the assets in our community gave me tremendous hope. Wow! I wondered what would happen if these assets were vigorously engaged in closing the opportunity gap for black children?
I don’t know the plans are for next steps are after these engaging presentations and group conversations. I hope to hear from the organizers soon. Until then, I share the ideas from two groups about how churches and elders can be involved. Let me know what you think. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to explore possibilities. As you read over these suggestions, I invite you to reflect on how these can be carried out with input from those they are intended to uplift. The challenge in justice work is to be allies of those marginalized versus doing for them and seeing ourselves as saviors. We were reminded that “nothing about us (i.e. our black siblings) without us if for us.”
Things churches can do:
Offer summer camps
Increase leader visibility and advocacy in community e.g. PTA/PTO meetings
Use of space on non-Sundays for forums and lectures (black history, community racial history, state of education, arts, etc.)
Members can be reading buddies or lunch buddies in schools
Adopt a school or classroom
Provide scholarships for educational programs, enrichment activities
Offer career readiness/Counseling offered at church
Provide space and activities during school suspension for nurture/healing/justice
Provide after school homework support/participate in existing after school programs
Run food pantries
Provide transportation using church vans (to parent/teacher meetings, arts events, etc.)
Build relationship with the Latinx community /provide a safe zone/ language justice
Create and participate in interfaith projects
Things elders can do:
Receive training in reading and math strategies
Share living history
Connect elders with parents for support
Provide revolutionary love…engage children & families at church, in neighborhood
Disrupt complacency…speak up
Alumnae of Stevens Lee can share historical & institutional knowledge
Tap into Olli elders that may want to be involved in closing the gap
Engage with the schools through conversations, mentoring
Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development
Sunday, September 22 2019, 9:15 & 11:15am Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, Guest Minister
For nearly 80 years, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee has been advancing UU values by working with justice makers the world over confronting unjust power structures and challenging oppressive policies. Join us to hear UUSC President and CEO Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, describe how deeds of common courage are transforming the world; one brave, ordinary act at a time.
Picture this: Someone just walked into a public place where they are hoping to (eventually) know some people. They figure out how to get to a seat but they didn’t make a name tag for themselves because, well, that would be too scary. They certainly didn’t introduce themselves during the event (Egads! Way too scary!) but they do make their way to the very-crowded place where people gather after the event because really, they DO want to meet some people. Now what?
It is YOUR job (yes, you!) to do something about this! Here’s your line: “Hi! My name is _____________. Welcome! This is a big congregation so I’m not sure if we’ve met. Have we?” (Not a great idea to ask, “Are you new?” to a person who’s been a member for the past 30 years.) And if you discover that they are new, your next line could be: “What brought you here today?” Or, “How did you like the service?” Etc.
We on staff are noticing painfully-alone people standing around at Coffee Hour. This is not good. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if the person IS a 30-year member or brand-spanking new, if they are standing alone (or just with their buddy), go up and speak to them. Yes, YOU!
This can be hard, I know. But everyone who is here is a guest of this congregation. Guests (here or at your house) are looking for connection, kindness, and acceptance. They want to be personally recognized and welcomed. You can do this!
Here are helpful hints for being welcoming:
• Start slow. You don’t need to obtain 30 years of backstory in one conversation or invite them over on the first visit. • Listen well. You will be able to tell if something makes them uncomfortable. You will also learn things that you can mention in future conversations. • Introduce them to someone else in the church. Think of a member who has something in common with the visitor but be VERY careful about making assumptions. • Ask a question that doesn’t have a yes or no answer.
Here are some other possible questions to ask of newcomers:
• How did you discover our church? • Is this your first visit or have you been coming for a while? • Have you ever been to a UU church before?
Sunday, September 15, 9:15 & 11:15am Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development
Have you heard that Unitarian Universalism is “covenantal not creedal?” What does that mean? Interestingly (and probably surprisingly to you), there are several covenants that inform our relationships here at UUCA. Let’s explore the ways that covenants underpin our behaviors, our mission, and even the theological grounding of our faith.<i> click on title to continue.</i>