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Dear ,

Spring is always full of promise.

This spring, I watched as our congregations stretched their understanding of Beloved Community to welcome all. I watched as our congregations offered loving responses to a seemingly unloving administration.

This spring, I witness as our denomination stretches to understand power, privilege, and leadership.

We are in a place of promise – to ourselves, to each other, to our beloved communities – and I welcome this new growth, mindful ever that with growth comes delicate blooms that need time to strengthen. I hope we all can tend to this blossoming and growth, so that what we harvest nurtures us, as we nurture all.

In a recent message, our interim co-presidents
wrote:

Over the past three weeks we have spoken frequently about the hope-filled possibilities inherent in this moment for our Unitarian Universalist movement. That leaning into hope is based in large part from the powerful healing impact of truth and reconciliation commissions following times of extreme conflict around the globe. We know the importance of truth telling, just as we understand that it is the long-term work of justice that leads to reconciliation in community. We also remind ourselves regularly that high emotions, the kind born of strong commitments to this faith that we love, often serve to shape our understandings of the truth. Moments like these require intentional processing, and careful listening.

Let us lean on each other and lean into hope, caring for the gentle, new growth in us, in our denomination, and beyond.

In this issue, you’ll find stories about:

  • Finding Our Way Home 2017
  • Save the Date: Finding Our Way Home 2018
  • Multicultural Ministries at GA 2017
  • Mosaic Makers National Conference 2017
  • An update from LGBTQ Ministries
  • Love Resists

Masakhane,
Janice

Dr. Janice Marie Johnson
Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director
UUA Multicultural Growth and Witness


"Masakhane" is a rich and resonant word from the Nguni family of languages of South Africa, of which Zulu and Xhosa are two. Loosely translated into English it means, "Let us build together."
  

Finding Our Way Home 2017

From March 15 through March 18, nearly 100 Unitarian Universalist religious professions of color gathered in Baltimore, MD for the annual Finding Our Way Home retreat, sponsored by the UUA's Multicultural Growth and Witness staff group.

This year, the gathering had the unique opportunity to attend a workshop with renowned documentary filmmaker and educator Lee Mun Wah of Stir Fry Seminars. This workshop, “The World Is All Around Us,” focused on our role to building the Beloved Community -- within the context of institutions such as ours desiring to enhance our multicultural environment. Participants were invited to

answer the questions "What do we -- people of color -- need for ourselves? How do we tend our own souls? How do we make room for our much needed self care?".

There were mini-presentations from the community, as well as caucusing circles oriented around racial/ethnic identities, and professional realms. In addition to a Q&A session with former UUA president Rev. Peter Morales, there were service project opportunities, a tour of historic First Unitarian Baltimore, as well as a child dedication, and a community blessing for our newly minted professional leaders.

Some thoughts from participants:

Attending FOWH 2017 truly changed my relationship with UU-ism as a whole, my church congregation, and my own reflection of my UU faith. I've been on staff at UUCCSM for 5 years now, but never had such a unified "I belong here" feeling than I did those four days in Baltimore. I can't even imagine how the current conversation within our UUA would have affected me had I not connected with my fellow black and brown UU leaders in Baltimore. Talk about everything happening for a reason!

All of it, experiencing UU principles outside of a white-centered space. The tour guide of the First UU church of Baltimore - his knowledge and frank discussion about race within the history of the church was phenomenal. The sessions, the services, the opening night speakers, the camaraderie amongst long-time soldiers in the fight for justice and to be heard within our faith and its white supremacist systems.


Jyvonne Haskin, Staff, Choir Section Leader, Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica, CA

 
 
Photo by Lily Rappaport. See more here.
I have been attending the annual UUA's Multicultural Retreat since the spring of 2007. I look forward to this event all year long because these are the most important few days in my year.

I have watched it grow from a small gathering of spiritual seekers into a very large group of people from many backgrounds, ages, and various professions. But the sincerity of purpose and the warm hospitality of those from the UUA who organize this annual event have remained intact and unchanged.

As this retreat has moved from state to state, city to city, many opportunities have been, and are. offered to each participant for widening our horizons, enlarging our minds, and deepening our compassion.

Each year, at this multicultural conference I realize yet again how important it is for all concerned (and certainly for me) to take the time to really listen to others and consequently learn experientially what Mother Teresa called "Love in action.... Do small things with great love."


Rev. Shuma Chakravarty, Director and Minister, Resource Center for Ecology, Compassion, and Culture

 
I really appreciate the Finding Our Way Home retreat and FOWH 2017 is no exception.

I love how there is always time to learn something new and practical, as well as opportunities to connect with colleagues from around the country and engage in a social justice project.

This year I especially liked connecting with a local UU church to learn about its history and how they engage their civic context through service and advocacy.


Rev. Daniel Gregoire,
Unitarian Universalist Society
of Grafton & Upton


Finding Our Way Home is crucial for the renewal of the spirits of People of Color who are religious professionals in our Faith. Participants leave FOWH having met new family members, renewed connections with others from past years, experienced mind/body/spirit alignments; and having had the opportunity to re-covenant to our Beloved Unitarian Universalist Faith.

Many thanks to all who make this life-affirming gathering possible.

See you next year in Albuquerque!


Elizabeth Ann Terry,
Congregational Giving Specialist 

UUA Stewardship & Development

 
Soon after starting my new role as LGBTQ and Intercultural Programs Manager at the UUA, Multicultural Ministries hosted our annual Finding Our Way Home retreat (FOWH) in Baltimore, MD. New to the UUA and to Unitarian Universalism broadly, I had no idea what to expect. More than anything I was excited about the gathering of UU religious professionals of color in one space, particularly liberal progressive religious professionals of color. As a gay black man I had yet to be in such a space. Most religious spaces I’d ever frequented were either white liberal progressive or black conservative fundamental. So FOWH was my first experience in a space where my queerness, my blackness, and my spirituality would be privileged and celebrated. This is exactly what happened. At FOWH, my faulty perception of Unitarian Universalism as a predominantly white tradition was deconstructed as I found myself in the company of 100 seasoned UUs who are pastors, administrators, religious educators, musicians, and seminaries who look like me. 

They were loving how I love, singing how I sing, praying how I pray, and asking the questions I ask. Within a few hours of arrival in Baltimore it was quite clear that I had found my way home. The spirit-filled worship, combined with the Unitarian Universalist values, and the queer affinity and comraderie not only reassured me that I had landed the ideal career, but also that I'd found new family. As the conference came to a close, I was refreshed by the service I was able to share in with colleagues and the love and welcome that was shared with me. I look forward to many more Finding Our Way Homes in the seasons to come as we move forward in our endeavors to actualize Beloved Community in and beyond the UUA.


Michael J. Crumpler, LGBTQ and Intercultural Programs Manager, UUA Multicultural Growth and Witness

 
And this closing thought from Dr. Janice Marie Johnson, Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director, UUA Multicultural Growth and Witness

We have new stories to tell because of our time together.

We arrived from different places, many of us encumbered by stormy weather.

We gathered in faith, believing that Finding Our Way Home would give us strength for the continued journey.

We gathered in hope, believing that our connections in community would give us joy in the continued journey.

We gathered in love, believing that our presence in our Unitarian Universalist faith would move the margins to the center of our faith.

I choose to believe that our time together makes us

more faithful
more loving
more woke

Let us always remember that we are -- and will ever be -- part of each other's stories.

Save the Date: Finding Our Way Home 2018

Finding Our Way Home will be held March 14 - 17, 2018 in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque. Our keynote speaker will be Melvin Bray, Emmy® award-winning storyteller, author, and social entrepreneur. More information will come at the end of this year!

Multicultural Ministries at General Assembly 2017 

Much is in bloom. Join us at our presentation:

Intent vs Impact: Identity, Culture, and Civility

Friday 6/23/2017, 3:15:00 PM - 4:30:00 PM
New Orleans Convention Center -- 215-216

Janice Marie Johnson will serve as moderator. In this experiential workshop, we start off by acknowledging, honoring, and sharing our respective identities and diverse cultures. We then consider and create ways to better bring authentic welcome, inclusion, and civility to our actions and our lives.

The presenters are: Rev. Anya Johnston; Starr Austin, Educator; Rev. Audette Fulbright Fulson; and Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson.

Note that many “off the grid” events and reflection spaces will be integral to GA. Stay tuned for offerings from:

  • DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries
  • BLUU (Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism)
  • UUA’s Multicultural Ministries…. Stay tuned!
GA Scholarships for People of Color

Additional money has been allocated by the Board of Trustees to support People of Color interested in attending UUA General Assembly in New Orleans - June 21-25, 2017.

If you have already received partial funding for GA, you are still eligible for this funding. It will be provided on a first come first serve basis.

Closing date for applications is June 5. You will receive follow-up information within ten days of receipt of your application. Learn more and apply here: www.uua.org/ga/registration/financialaid/poc-financial-aid
 

Save the Date: Mosaic Makers National Conference 2017

We’re excited to announce the dates for our 2017 Mosaic Makers National Conference, hosted by First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, CA: Friday, October 27 – Sunday, October 29, 2017 with the Professional Day on Monday, October 30, 2017.

  • Experience diverse, stellar worship at a Mosaic congregation with two campus locations!
  • Meet our extraordinary activist partners at the Mexican border. Discuss ways to amplify and fortify the work!
  • Experience an authentic and accountable celebration of El Día de Muertos.
  • Explore beautiful San Diego, CA! Honor its past and celebrate its present and future.

And of course, our number one reason you’ll want to come is that you'll never have to hear, "You should've been there!" as attendees recount learning and growing with religious professions and leaders committed to multicultural ministries; experiencing wonderful speakers and workshop leaders; and building inspiring movement making toward truly multicultural communities. And let’s not forget beautiful accommodations and wonderful food!

Registration opens in mid-July. Email multicultural@uua.org for more information.
Update from the UUA’s LGBTQ Ministries

Coming Soon! – UPLIFT! - Uplifting the LGBTQ+ experience within and beyond Unitarian Universalism." UPLIFT is a platform for the UUA to uplift LGBTQ issues and concerns. It will be published as a quarterly email newsletter, blog, and twitter profile. In June 2017, Multicultural Ministries will publish it first UPLIFT e-newletter, followed shortly thereafter by regular LGBTQ-related blog posts via uua.org/lgbtq. Follow UPLIFT on Twitter @uua_lgbtq

In April, the UUA sponsored the second annual TRUUsT Retreat at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida. 27 UU’s of transgender experience gathered together to share love and hold brave space to reaffirm who they are as UU’s and how they might continue to honor and sustain themselves in and beyond Unitarian Universalism. UUA staff, Janice Marie Johnson and Michael Crumpler serves as hosts “in solidarity.”


This summer, the UUA will join the United Church of Christ (UCC) and Scouts for Equality (SFA) at this year's National Scouts Jamboree in July 19-28, 2017. Jamboree is Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) 4-year conference and the first conference since they have become LGBTQ friendly. We are proud of our combined efforts to support the BSA’s effort to uphold it's own scouts law, “A scout is friendly. A scout is a friend to everyone, even people who are very different from him.” We are excited about the opportunity to employ the principles of Unitarian Universalism to help transform the BSA into a more welcoming institution for LGBTQ youth. 

“Love Resists” -- A New Initiative
In January, UUA and UUSC began an unprecedented level of collaboration to support a growing movement to resist hate speech and xenophobic policy actions at local, state, and national levels, fed by the Trump administration’s dangerous and immoral policy agenda.    
Since then, thousands of individuals, congregations, and organizations have joined us by adding their names to the “Declaration of Conscience,” kick-starting the first phase in our recently named joint initiative, Love Resists. Learn more about the initiative and find resources for expanded sanctuary and solidarity at www.uua.org/loveresists. We are excited about being on the core team helping to give life, the shape of justice.
This issue of Catalyst includes additional writing by Audra Friend, Communications Coordinator, UUA Multicultural Growth and Witness
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Unitarian Universalist Association
24 Farnsworth St.
Boston, Massachusetts 02210
United States