Faith is a challenging word for non creedal Unitarian Universalists. In our theology, faith isn’t centered on the belief in a deity that is all knowing and intervenes in our lives. Faith is centered on beliefs about life, our call in the world and what matters, what gives meaning to our lives. And, it isn’t just about “me” it is also about “we.” Rev. Victoria Safford wrote “Faith feels like the most private solitary thing, but it is not. It’s communal and contagious…Faith is what our hands hold all together, when none of us is strong enough to hold on by ourselves.”
In this time when we have become more aware of the depth of racial injustice in our nation our Seven UU principles call us to work for fairness, peace, respect, and freedom for all. Yet, they are incomplete because there is no acknowledgment of the effect white supremacy culture has on our ability to embody these principles we aspire to. That is one of the reasons why the Racial Justice Advisory Council (RJAC) was commissioned by the board. Their task was to assess where we are on the journey of being a congregation that is focused on collective liberation: personal understanding of racism and white supremacy culture that will motivate us to be allies in the work of building a Beloved Community in which all can thrive. One of the recommendations of the RJAC will be for UUCAvl to adopt the 8th Principle inviting all our members and friends to engage the work of liberation. Have you heard of the 8th Principle? If not, the language of the 8th Principle is below. UU Member Nancy Bragg has written an essay explaining the history of the 8th principle.
”We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: Journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
The 8th Principle: Why, Why now, History, # of congregations by Nancy Bragg
The Beloved Community that MLK Jr envisioned, influenced the Beloved Community we UUs long for today. Our proposed 8th Principle website describes Beloved Community in this way:
“Beloved Community happens when people of diverse racial, ethnic, educational, class, gender, abilities, sexual orientation backgrounds/identities come together in an interdependent relationship of love, mutual respect, and care that seeks to realize justice within the community and in the broader world.”
What an inspiring vision to work towards!
As most of us know, Unitarian Universalist congregations currently have a shared covenant of 7 Principles we affirm, promote, and hold as strong values and moral guides.
Like our 7 Principles, the proposed 8th Principle begins with the stem:
”We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote:
and then the proposed 8th:
Journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
Hmm. . . Why change?
The world has changed a lot since when the Principles were created in 1961. Our Principles are dynamic, rather than static. In the mid-1980s, feminism and environmentalism influenced changes in wording and increased the number of principles from 6 to 7.
Changes in our world require strong UU leadership to commit and focus on what we are called to do. What is at stake is the future of our faith. If we continue as we are, Unitarian Universalism will die.
What is changing in the world?
Racism is now in the open, President Biden talks about it, and there is a new sense of unrest.
There is increased awareness of how climate change, police violence, voting rights, & mass incarceration are negatively impacting more BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) than whites.
And the number of non-white people in the world is increasing.
How does the UUA need to change, based on these changes in the world?
We urgently need to change our hiring practices to meet expected workplace multicultural standards, to follow our policies, and to work towards our priorities.
We need to widen our circle of concern for marginalized groups; our youth and younger members find UUs irrelevant and do not understand our failure to be intentionally inclusive.
We need to listen to how BIPOC UUs are negatively impacted by our white-centered focus.
We need to move away from centering whiteness both in the UUA and in our congregations.
We need to clarify our beliefs and be a sustaining faith for present and future members; people need a faith to come to and not just freedom from former dogmatic religious experiences.
We need to change, to be who we say we are.
History of the 8th Principle
Back in 2013, Paula Cole Jones, a Black life-long UU who had worked for over 15 years with UU congregations on Racial & Social Justice, realized that our shared covenant of our 7 Principles is not enough to avert racist behaviors and guide UUs in our current world and into the future. She found it common then, as well as now, for UUs to be part of a 7 Principles for Individuals culture, where we:
individually believe in our 7 Principles, yet do not express them in action in our lives.
individually believe in our 7 Principles, yet do not understand how these principles also apply to us as a collective UU community.
individually believe in the 3rd Principle – “justice, equity and compassion in human relations,” yet are not conscious of our unintentional individual and collective UU racist behaviors.
individually wear our “Standing on the Side of Love” or “Side with Love” t-shirts, yet do not comprehend our core UU value of Love and how to apply it as Love in Action.
individually believe in the 1st Principle – “the inherent worth and dignity of all” and the 7th Principle “the interdependent web of all,” yet do not realize that who we called to be, and what we are called to do as a result of these Principles is working towards Beloved Community for all.
Paula felt that it has been easy for white UUs to not be aware of unintentional racist behaviors within our congregations, yet UUs of Color haven’t had the luxury of unawareness. She knew more awareness was needed to become a Beloved Community culture, rather than a 7 Principles for Individuals Culture. She suggested an 8th Principle as a way of explicitly making UUs aware of natural outgrowths of our 7 Principles.
Paula talked with Bruce Pollack-Johnson, a white member of the Unitarian Universalists of Mt. Airy in Philadelphia, and they co-wrote an initial draft of the 8th Principle. To refine the wording, they worked with a group of UUs who had gone through UU Jubilee Three Anti-Racism Training. Those involved started working informally in their own congregations towards becoming Beloved Community cultures.
In 2017, the UUA hiring crisis prompted proposing the 8th Principle at that year’s General Assembly as a responsive resolution. GA’s response to the resolution was the formation of an Article II Study Commission to explore changes to the By-Laws, which include our Principles. The Article II Commission was told to root the work in our UU core value of love and to center Love in Action. In addition, a Commission on Institutional Change was tasked with interviewing marginalized people, writing about how they experience our institutional culture, and suggesting needed changes. This 2020 report is called Widening the Circle of Concern. And you can read it together with others from UUAvl by contacting Mary Alm.
It will be 2023 before the Article II Commission’s recommendations will be up for the first vote before the General Assembly with possibility of amendments, followed by a second vote at the 2024 General Assembly.
In the meantime, we at UUAvl can join this long-term grassroots initiative that is gaining momentum. So far, half of our UU congregations are discussing the proposed 8th Principle and 142 out of 1048 UU congregations world-wide have adopted it. Working towards it and adopting it is a way to
demonstrate our collective commitment to work towards a Beloved Community culture and
to publicly acknowledge our desire for these ideas to be incorporated into the work of the Article 2 Study Commission.
This month we are invited to explore our relationship with history: personal, family, local and national. Are we willing to engage with the fullness of history both good and bad? Are we willing to explore what truth-full stories need to be told? Below are a few questions from our Soul Matters packet this month for your reflection.
As you consider personal history below is an inspiring poem by George Ella Lyon “Where I am from” Poem read by author: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdnHl_yW1dQ Contact Rev. Claudia if you would like a template to create your own. We have used this as an ice breaker in the Religious Education Council retreat as a creative way to get to know each other.
Reflection Questions Do you believe that history is “written by the victors”? How have you experienced the “losers” version of history winning out? Or altering your own calling in the world?
When you tell the history of the pandemic ten years from now, what story do you think you will begin with?
What if the question isn’t, “Did it really happen that way?” But instead, “Why do you want to remember that it happened that way?”
Have you figured out the story you want to be remembered by?
These are just a few of the questions that our Soul Matters Groups will consider this month. If you are interested in learning more about Soul Matters Groups or joining one please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
We launch our Faith Development programs this month! The 6:30 October 6 Vespers welcomes our spiritual learning community after a summer hiatus. The 7PM program will explore this month’s theme “Cultivating Relationships.” I invite you to consider how our understanding of relationship has changed during COVID. We have been yearning for physical connection with family and friends beyond our COVID pods, if we are living with others, or beyond ourselves, if we are living alone. Below are a few questions for reflection from this month’s packet.
And, check out this month’s calendar for other opportunities for spiritual deepening. Join us!
See you on-line or at a masked gathering on campus! Rev. Claudia
What was the most nourishing new relationship you cultivated during the pandemic time? Was it with an unexpected person? A new habit? A new part of yourself? And what’s your plan to intentionally nourish that relationship moving forward?
What’s the wisest thing you were ever taught about cultivating relationships?
When was the first time you deeply connected to someone in a way that caused you to also deeply connect with yourself?
When did you first realize there was something called “a chosen family”?
Which of your friend relationships have lasted the longest? Or gone the deepest? What’s been the secret? And, most importantly, is that a secret you need to pull out and use again in your current life?
Is it time to stop cultivating a relationship and instead walk away from it?
Play. Jugar. An appropriate theme for this month when many of our children and families begin summer vacation. A time to take a break from zoom and hopefully some down time for parents. Those of us without children at home are also planning outings and exploring ways to re-enter into and reconstitute community after over a year a staying close to home and physically distancing from each other. May we all find ways to engage in play, jugar this month.
What does play mean to you?
A few definitions of play from our Soul Matters resources:
“Across the globe, many of the etymological roots of the word ‘play’ locate it in the visceral: ludere in Latin refers to leaping fishes and fluttering birds. The Anglo-Saxon lâcan means to move like a ship on the waves, or to tremble like a flame. The Sanskrit kridati also, as in Germanic languages, describes the movement of wind. In play, we are rarely immobile. We’re alive.” SOURCE: https://aeon.co/essays/play-is-cathartic-allowing-people-to-sit-with-their-shadows
In rare moments of deep play, we can lay aside our sense of self, shed time’s continuum, ignore pain, and sit quietly in the absolute present, watching the world’s ordinary miracles. No mind or heart hobbles. No analyzing or explaining. No questing for logic. No promises. No goals. No relationships. No worry. One is completely open to whatever drama may unfold. Diane Ackerman
To play is to listen to the imperative inner force that wants to take form and be acted out without reason. It is the joyful, spontaneous expression of oneself. Michelle Cassou and Stewart Cubley
One of the highlights of this month will be meeting with “The Wildflowers” the first covenant group I have co-facilitated at UUCA. As this month’s theme suggests we will spend some time playing a game, sharing jokes, and exploring play. Below are a few questions we will be considering from our Soul Matters packet:
What makes something play for you? When you feel free from the burden of producing an outcome? When creativity is involved? When you lose time? When you can just be yourself? All of the above? Something else?
What did you learn from the games you played as a child? Monopoly, King of the Hill and Dodge Ball certainly instill different lessons than Red Light; Green Light, Clue, Jump-Rope, Pictionary or Hopscotch. What lessons from your favorite childhood games do you notice “playing out” for you in the present?
What would it look like to sneak a bit of playfulness into your daily chores? Your dinner prep? Morning commute? Exercise routine? Workday? Your relationship?
Can worship be play?
Can play be a form of political resistance?
Beloveds, go forth and play this summer! Juegen, querides!
We are moving from spring into summer, a time of stories of rebirth, relaxing and letting go. We are moving from a time of isolation to a time to going forth vaccinated and unmasked (when possible) reconnecting with others: seeing smiles, giving hugs and feeling the energy in a space when we are present to each other. What a time!
As a congregation we are also moving into a new story about who we have been, who are in this moment and who we want to be in the future. There will be a celebration of Rev. Mark’s ministry in July and as well as a time of grief for the loss of his presence among us as he begins a new chapter in his life: retirement. A new story, for him and for us. Wow! What an amazing time of possibility for all of us. This month we find out who our interim will be, and we await their arrival in August.
“We all have one particularly important story that we tell ourselves, about ourselves: our “life story,” which helps us to organize our experiences and give us a sense of self, even dictating our behavior in some cases. We’re constantly updating, amending and adding to this story as we encounter new experiences.” – Carolyn Gregoire
How are you updating, amending and adding to your life story?
This month we are invited to consider that our spiritual journeys are not just about revealing, healing and sustaining ourselves but about considering our collective journey, in community toward becoming a people of Beloved Community. This quote from theologian Howard Thurman alludes to the inner and outer journeys of becoming:
“Do not ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
What makes you come alive?
How does your coming alive contribute to Beloved Community?
Here are a few more questions to consider this month:
Many of us mark the first day of our becoming as the time when we discovered one of our core passions. When did you discover your first passion? How has it grown and morphed over the years? How are you being called to rekindle it anew?
What are you doing to ensure that you don’t become a person who has regrets?
What if you finally allowed yourself to say out loud, “I am an artist!” or “”I am a leader!” or “I am beautiful!” or “I am smart!” or “I am…”?
What inhibits our becoming?
These are a few questions being discussed in our covenant groups using Soul Matters packets. if you are interested in being part of a covenant group contact Rev. Claudia email@example.com.
Our Soul Matters packet this month invites us to consider that commitment includes three Latin word roots: com – together mit – to send ment – a result.
Awareness of the roots of this word reminds us that commitment is not experienced in isolation but with others and with all parts of ourselves. That commitment has an energy that moves, that sends us along in a direction. And, making a commitment is a choice. What commitments have you chosen to make to yourself? To beloveds? To community?
A few questions to consider this month:
What commitment has shaped you the most? What commitment most deeply defines you?
What did your family teach you about “responsibilities we have to the world”?
What promises have you made to your spiritual life?
If someone secretly monitored your life for a month, what would they conclude is your most sacred vow?
A final invitation to reflection on faith and commitment:
Faith is a commitment to live as if certain things are true, and thereby help to make them so. Faith is a commitment to live as if life is a wondrous mystery, as if life is good, as if love is divine, as if we are responsible for the well-being of those around us. -Rev. Galen Guengrich
What does faith mean to you? What things are true for you?
These are a few examples of the invitations to reflect on the monthly theme that occur in our Covenant Groups which are part of the Faith Development programs at UUCA. If you would like more information about covenant groups and how to join please contact Rev. Claudia firstname.lastname@example.org
Feb, 12 7:00 PM Justice Ministry Film Night – John Lewis-Get in the Way Contact: Charlie Wussow
Feb. 17, 7:00 PM Spiritual Practices: Aging, Session 1 Facilitators: Rev. Claudia, Jim Steffe Resource: Aging as a Spiritual Practice by Lewis Richmond
Feb. 24, 7:00 PM UU Theology – William Ellery Channing Facilitator: Rev. Terry Davis Resources: The Baltimore Sermon Background information about the sermon Channing, Emerson, Parker: Three Prophets of Religious Liberalism, Conrad Wright, ed.
NOTE: Theology, March 24 will be Creation Theology Resources: What is creation theology? Original Blessing by Matthew Fox (1983 or 2000 edition) .
As we begin the new year in which vaccines are being made available to many and a new president will be inaugurated, what do we imagine this year will hold for us? How can we use our imagination to envision our dreams for ourselves, our beloveds and our world AND work to make that vision a reality? Join us in Vespers, Sunday Worship, Covenant Groups and religious education to explore in community the importance of imagination in our lives. Below are a few prompts inviting you to make time an reflect on this month’s theme.
Imagination is a danger thus every totalitarian regime is frightened of the artist. It is the vocation of the prophet to keep alive the ministry of imagination to keep on conjuring and proposing alternative futures to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one. – Walter Brueggemann
Welcome to the month of Stillness. Here’s a poem from this month’s Soul Matters packet being used by our covenant groups. Check out this month’s calendar and join us for Vespers or one of the other programs offered this month.
Keeping Quiet Pablo Neruda
Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still for once…
It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines…
If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves…
This year Adult Faith Development will focus on connection, spirituality, and deepening anti-racism work using the UUA curriculum “Building the World We Dream About.” Programs will be offered after Vespers and throughout the week. The calendar lists all our spiritual deepening groups including a new group led by Rev. Ward “White People Wondering,” which provides a brave space for reflecting with others on where you are on the journey of recognizing and disrupting racism in your life. Questions? Requests? Contact Rev Claudia.
And, Children and Youth Religious Education is still a thing! We already have 53 kids/youth registered for the 2020-21 year. We are excited to offer religious education and family ministry in a different way this year. Due to the pandemic that must not be named (for you Harry Potter fans), we have made an effort to simplify our programs but still have fun connecting with the faith development you want from your UU congregation! “What will RE look like this year?” you ask. Religious education for children and youth has been divided into four groups. Groups will typically meet two Sundays/month via Zoom: PreK-3rd & 10th-12th grades will meet on the first and third Sundays of the month and 4th-6th & 7th-9th grades will meet on the second and fourth Sundays of the month.
In addition to classic (mostly virtual) RE, we will have other opportunities as well, some online and possibly some occasional small, safer in person gatherings for youth or adults. A few ideas: Family Fun Nights for fellowship and fun; “UU in a box” for at home fun and faith development; and physically distant youth group “masked meet-ups.”
Faith Development is thriving at UUCA! Vespers + Programs were offered during the summer months. Now we look forward to gathering with you to learn, to worship, to connect, and to explore ways to put our faith in action. See you on Zoom (don’t forget you can call in, too!)
Rev Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development
Jen Johnson and Kim Collins, Religious Educators
John Bloomer, Joyce Hooley-Gingrich, Linda Topp, Wednesday Thing Planning Team
First Program: September 16 – Contemplative Stillness Practices
Spiritual practices enliven us as we intentionally focus and experience presence. Participants will explore spiritual practices; then each will select one primary and one secondary opportunity to actually practice. Monthly sessions will open with a contemplative practice. We will then share our past month’s experiences with spiritual practices. Each month we’ll focus on a different group of spiritual practices and a volunteer will lead us in an example. If you are interested in participating in this spiritual practices opportunity, contact Nancy Bragg. Along with the committed core of initial participants, the sessions will be open to new participants.
This is a virtual program sponsored by The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center. It starts Wednesday, July 1 at noon and continues for eight Wednesdays thereafter.
“Adaptive Living: From Fear to Love – Pathways to Progress” is free – – with donations to The Mountain welcomed. It’s designed to open our minds and hearts so we are more adaptable, productive, and committed to a higher level of personal development in this rapidly changing world.
This program is offered to help The Mountain recover from its $500,000 loss in COVID-19 program cancellations. The coordinator and presenters are doing this pro bono. Every dollar goes to The Mountain. Our OLLI-recognized keynote speakers (Drs. Rita Brodnax and Dudley Tower) will introduce content, facilitate discussion, and encourage new practices during the nine sessions.
Buddhist Fellowship Meets Tuesday, June 9, 7-8:15pm via Zoom. We start with a 30-minute (unguided) meditation followed by dharma/UU sharing, and end with 10 minutes of social interaction. Contact Jim Steffe for Zoom code.
Peacemakers Our June practice isbeing for peace: Today take five minutes to meditate for peace. Put your attention on your heart and inwardly repeat these four words: Peace, Harmony, Laughter, Love.
Peacemaking at a Distance will take place on Wednesday, June 10 via Zoom. After check participants will explore Guatemalan-born RMT received the Peace Prize “in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.” Please join Peacemakers as we broaden our discussion of the 2020 UUA Common Read. In so doing, we will be draw upon her lecture, which you can read here. To deepen your familiarity with RMT, you may wish to view a 59-minute lecture she gave in 2008 on “Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples.” Contact Bruce Larson for Zoom code.
Covenant Groups continue to meet. Some groups are using conference calls others are meeting via Zoom. Contact covenant group co-coordinators if if you are interested in joining a group. Iris Hardin email@example.com
Let us know what UUCA programs you have been attending, what programs we can offer again…UU History? Haunting Church? etc. and what kinds of programs you would like to see in the future. Share your thoughts with Rev Claudia.
Join a covenant group. Participate in “Haunting Church” or “UU History 101” Explore spiritual deepening groups such as the Buddhist Fellowship or Peacemakers.
Haunting Church: Owning Your Religous Past provides an opportunity to explore your religous journey through discussion, art and journaling. What do you leave behind? What do you bring ot the present? What do you redefine? Dates: Monday, April 13, 20, 27 & May 4 Time: 2:00-3:30 PM Who: 8-12 participants Facilitator: Rev Claudia; email firstname.lastname@example.org to register
Peacemakers continue their book study via Zoom on the second Wednesdays from 7:00-8:15 PM. They are currently discussing: An Indigenous People’s History of the United States. Contact Bruce Larson for details email@example.com
UUCA Buddhist Fellowship is maintaining its regular meeting schedule: 7:00 to 8:30 pm on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month via ZOOM. Contact: Jim Steffe for details and meeting ID firstname.lastname@example.org
UU History Class …Drop-ins Welcome You are invited to take a 12-week class on Unitarian Universalist History. The class will meet on Thursday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. starting Thursday, April 2. It will be facilitated by Rev. Jeff Jones, Affiliated Community Minister with UUCA. We will be using the video series Long Strange Trip by Ron Cordes.The class will cover 2000 years of Unitarian Universalist history. Each class will have 30 minutes of video followed by discussion. You are welcome to join us for all classes or you can drop in as your schedule permits. Questions? Contact Rev. Jones email@example.com
Covenant Groups continue to meet. Some groups are using conference calls others are meeting via Zoom. Contact covenant group co-coordinators if your group would like to use Zoom or if you are interested in joining a group. Iris Hardin firstname.lastname@example.org or Paula Massey email@example.com
Meditation for Beginners via Zoom, Mon., March 23, 7:00-8:30PM This might be a good time to establish a daily meditation practice. As we all hunker down and engage in social distancing there may be an opportunity to set time aside to practice. The goals of the class are to practice simple Buddhist techniques that can be used to establish your own meditation practice and develop the confidence needed to continue your practice. Contact Jim Steffe if you are interested firstname.lastname@example.org
Covenant Groups continue to meet. Some groups are doing conference calls others are meeting via Zoom. Contact covenant group co-coordinators if your group would like to use Zoom or if you are interested in joining a group. Iris Hardin email@example.com or Paula Massey firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, February 7, 7:30pm to Sunday, February 9, 2020, 9:00am
This exciting and youth-led CON is the 28th annual event presented by the high school youth of UU Church of Charlotte. 9th-12th graders from UU congregations in NC, SC, TN, VA, and GA are invited to attend this gathering of Unitarian Universalist youth and advisors for a weekend with a program filled with a variety of workshops, activities, good food, and a safer environment. Youth participate in all the activities, share with new friends in small get-to-know-you groups, bond during free time, contribute to times of fun and reflection, and grow spiritually through worship.
Are you/ Have you been/ Do you want to be… a Spirit Play volunteer? This workshop is for you! Spirit Play offers a foundation in religious education, introducing our young children to Unitarian Universalism through stories and activities. Our kids LOVE it! You are invited to join us for this volunteer learning and workday with some very special things planned:
Come hear our Spirit Play origin story from two of our founding mothers, Anna Olsen and Ann McLellan, and the philosophy behind this enriching program!
Spirit Play storyteller training with Will Jernigan!
Share and hear the wisdom and experience of the whole group!
Center leaders, be inspired and share ideas, resources, materials!
Work with your center team to rejuvenate your space and story baskets!
There are many ways to be involved — we need all sorts of skills to run this special program: storytellers, center leaders (art, drama/movement, music, maker), those who like to organize and tidy spaces or make bulletin boards… there is a place for you. We will have breakout sessions for all roles.