laurel amabileYour UUAsheville Board identified the work of Racial Justice as one of our priority goals during the summer of 2020, working with our Minister of Faith Development, Rev. Claudia Jiménez to assemble and empower the Racial Justice Advisory Council (RJAC), made up of an amazing group of insightful and talented leaders dedicated to help our congregation navigate this important work.

The RJAC has worked with a consultant over the last few months to gather information about our UUAsheville system and sought feedback from our congregation. This initial process has resulted in a Draft Assessment Report which Rev. Claudia shared with us all via email on January 26. She and the RJAC are hosting a series of Listening Circles to engage us in conversation about the assessment findings. Your UUAsheville Board met last Sunday for a Listening Circle session and found it to be a great forum for sharing our thoughts and getting clarification for greater understanding.

Please join one of the upcoming Racial Justice Advisory Council Listening Circles if you have not already. We plan to have at least one member of the Board at each one. We want to hear your thoughts!

Three decades ago, one of our much beloved and influential Unitarian Universalist ministers, The Reverend Melvin Hoover, shared a piece he wrote in a meditation manual entitled Been in the Storm So Long. This brilliant compilation features the writings of 29 African Americans, from 19th-century poets to the thinkers of the time, the early 1990s. Mel’s piece, Spirit of the Pioneer, speaks to me as I embark on the next part of my journey toward Racial Justice and as I dare to explore what I must do to truly be an antiracist person. This is not a new journey, for me, UUAsheville, and for Unitarian Universalism, but a continuing and challenging one begun many decades ago.

 I will share these wise words with you as inspiration and an invitation to join me and our congregation on this journey toward Racial Justice:

    We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it and build on it.

    We can’t control the future, but we can shape it and enhance the possibilities for our children and grandchildren.

    We can’t discern in the present the fullness of our actions and their impact, but we can be pioneers in our time, exploring fully the crevices and cracks where knowledge and new insights might be found.

    We can explore our spectrum of relationships and confront our complacency and certainty about the way things are.

    We can dare to face ourselves in our entirety,

                  To understand our pain,
                  To feel the tears,
                 To listen to our frustration and confusion, and to discover new capacities and capabilities that will empower and                         transform us.
                 In the spirit of the pioneer, let us now go forth.

Blessed be and may it be so.

Laural Amabile, Clerk, UUAsheville Board of Trustees