Letter from Jon, April 2017
Many of you have become aware of the resignation of UUA President Peter Morales in late March. This event took place amid controversy over hiring practices in our national office that critics say systematically privilege white, ordained religious leaders. Since Peter’s departure, two additional senior staff at the UUA have resigned. On April 10 the UUA Board of Trustees appointed three UU religious leaders of color to serve as interim co-presidents until the election later in June for our next UUA president.
For many years we have heard important and valid criticisms of the lack of diversity among UUA leadership and in our local congregations. These criticisms prompted the Black Lives of UU (BLUU) group to encourage UU congregations to address the persistent damage of white supremacy and privilege in our own UU history and in current attitudes and practices. They have suggested that congregations begin this process on either April 30 or May 7. More than 400 congregations have now signed on to this request.
Our staff has chosen April 30 as the Sunday when we will host conversations on these issues. Age appropriate materials are being secured for our children and youth. We will also have opportunities for adults after the second service to process these concerns. Our Racial Justice and Equity Teams are helping us locate resources, as well as being willing to help facilitate some of these conversations.
I will be preaching on April 30 and my sermon will be “The Many Faces of White Supremacy.” Some of this language is explosive and troubling for sure, but in my wrestling with these issues of late I realize that I must own the fact that I live in a culture that privileges the well-being of white people over the lives of people of color. White supremacy is a cultural norm as well as a group identity.
Since the adoption of our strategic plan in 2012 we committed ourselves to ‘risk leaving the safety of known ways’ by ‘opposing injustice and standing in prophetic judgment of all that diminishes the equality and dignity of human beings.’ We made a commitment back then to become multiculturally competent, at least that is how we phrased it then, but that commitment was only a first step toward realizing the Beloved Community we hoped to become. Beloved Community is a community of reconciliation and redemption and can only be achieved with painful truth-telling, repentance and forgiveness.
Rev. Jon M. Luopa
UUC’s Equity Team, Racial Justice Team and the Rev. Beth Chronister urge each of us to engage personally and communally by participating in one of the hour-long Processing Circles immediately following each service on April 30:
101: “Where do I start?” Beginning conversation on whiteness and race
201: “How do I continue? What do I still not see?” Working to uncover white supremacy
POCI (People of Color, Indigenous): Connecting in Community