May Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

At the UUS:E annual meeting on May 20 at 1:00, the Policy Board will ask the congregation to approve the following vision statement:

Unitarian Universalist Society: East will be home to a spiritually alive, richly diverse and growing congregation. We will send forth energy, spirit and strength into our beloved communities. We will love, be present to suffering, comfort, heal, bear witness to oppression, and boldly work toward social and environmental justice.

I want to express my gratitude to Anne Carr, Tammy Stolzman, Rhona Cohen and David Garnes who crafted the original drafts of this statement. Moreover, I want to express my gratitude to our UUS:E leadership team, who met in September for a day of visioning with UUA consultant, Jacki Shanti.

I also want to remind all of us that at the heart of our visioning process was a commitment to countering white supremacy within Unitarian Universalism. For a brief reminder of the way white supremacy operates within Unitarian Universalism, please see my sermon from May 7, 2017, “White Supremacy Teach-In” at http://uuse.org/white-supremacy-teach-in/. That sermon pointed out how the voices of People of Color remain largely on the margins of Unitarian Universalist institutional life. After I preached that sermon, someone asked about our visioning process. “If a group of mostly white people crafts a vision for the future of our mostly white congregation, and if the voices of People of Color remain on the margins of, or are absent from, that process, then what prevents our vision statement from perpetuating white supremacy?” It was a fabulous question.

In response, we invited five People of Color leaders from Hartford and Manchester to speak to our UUS:E leadership team about their vision for the region, and the role they feel UUS:E can play in achieving that vision. We crafted our proposed vision statement in response to the voices of People of Color leaders. We “centered” People of Color voices.

I love the finished product. I love it not only because we used an explicitly anti-racist process to create it; but also because it says “we will love.” This language came from Pamela Moore Selders, a founder of Moral Monday CT and a Black Lives Matter leader. On the evening before our visioning session, she challenged us to first and foremost love ourselves—to take pride in ourselves, to care about each other, to celebrate each other. She’s right. If we envision ourselves bringing love into the wider community, we need to begin by cultivating a deep and profound love among ourselves. That’s a vision that makes my heart sing!

Spiritually alive, richly diverse and growing? That, too, is a vision that makes my heart sing! There are actions we can take to achieve this vision.

Sending forth energy, spirit and strength into our beloved communities? That’s a vision that makes my heart sing! There are actions we can take to achieve this vision.

We will love, be present to suffering, comfort, heal, bear witness to oppression, and boldly work toward social and environmental justice. That’s a vision that makes my heart sing! There are actions we can take to achieve this vision.

I hope your heart sings too!Rev. Joshua Pawelek

With love,

–Rev. Josh