In the wake of George Floyd’s killing on May 25, 2020, many of us have been looking for ways to turn our outrage and sorrow into concrete action to end racial injustice. Under the banner Finding Our Next Right Action, members of our community are coming together to work toward change on a number of fronts, and you are invited to join us.
On three Wellspring Wednesdays in August, this work will continue with a discussion with Rob and Janne (August 5), peace circles facilitated by Unity's Racial and Restorative Justice Team (August 12), and Committing to Our Next Right Action (August 19). Details for these events is at the bottom of this post.
Shaping ideas that emerged from the Next Right Action Zoom discussion groups in early June, Unity’s Beloved Community Staff Team is channeling these efforts into seven specific focus areas:
The church will make the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) more widely available. The IDI is an assessment tool, used with follow-up resources and activities, intended to help the congregation grow as an anti-racist, multicultural spiritual community. If you are interested in taking the assessment, contact Drew Danielson. Team Dynamics, the consulting firm guiding Unity in this process, will offer three half-day workshops and training sessions during the fall/winter season. Dates: TBD. Contacts: Drew Danielson at email@example.com (to request an IDI assessment); KP Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unity’s Racial and Restorative Justice Team (RRJ) plans to hold two circles this summer, inviting people into deeper conversation about efforts to change infrastructure, training, and accountability for police and police departments. Conversations will be led by RRJ Team members. Date: August 12, 2020. Contact: Karen Hering at email@example.com.
Youth and Parents
A Family Fishbowl on Race and Racism, a Zoom conversation exploring thoughts and emotions about these issues, will be (was) held July 23. In the longer term, the congregation will explore ways to strengthen parental involvement in Religious Education, especially in seminal programs and events including the Boston pilgrimage, Coming of Age, Our Whole Lives, and Tower Club parent council. Date: July 23, 2020 (Family Fishbowl). Contact: Drew Danielson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neighborhood Organizing and Policing
Building on existing relationships with organizations such as the Summit-University Planning Council and the St. Paul Police Department, Unity Church (and, in particular, executive director Barbara Hubbard) will seek opportunities to engage in the complex and multifaceted conversation about policing that is under way in our community and our country. Your ideas for creating and shaping these conversations are welcome. Contact: Barbara Hubbard at email@example.com.
Funding Emergency Needs
A list of opportunities to support critical initiatives that address police violence, gaps in housing and education, growing economic disparities, and more is available on the Beloved Community Staff Team community resources page and will be updated to provide ongoing guidance. In the longer term, Unity will work toward establishing sustained support and closer coordination with partner organizations led by people of color. Contact: Barbara Hubbard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information about volunteer opportunities will be updated and available right here on the Beloved Community Staff Team webpage. Contact: Karen Hering at email@example.com.
You can read more about these opportunities and Finding Our Next Right Action at https://bit.ly/nextrightstepsdoc.
Reflecting on the Journey • Wednesday, August 5 • 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to join this session.
Senior Co-Ministers Revs. Rob and Janne Eller-Isaacs will each reflect on a personal journey they are presently on and on the journey we are on together as a congregation now. In breakout groups, participants will be invited to similarly share with one another.
The August 12 Wellspring Wednesday offering, "Reimagining Public Safety: A Circle of Peace," has reached capacity. Due to high demand another circle has been scheduled for Sunday, August 30, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Register online.
The Racial and Restorative Justice team is calling together a Circle of Peace to help us begin talking and learning about Reimagining Public Safety, how white people center police in maintaining personal safety, and how policing harms people of color and fails to keep them safe. All levels of interest are welcome; the Circle is open to people ages 15 and older. Most of the time will be spent sharing in the Peace Circle process to enhance listening and avoid crosstalk. All participants must preregister and are asked to read the MPD 150 report “A People’s Project Evaluating Policing” before attending. This first step in understanding multiple perspectives will be followed with an invitation into several ways for getting involved. The MPD 150 report is online at www.mpd150.com in both printed and audio formats.
Committing to Our Next Right Action • Wednesday, August 19 • 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Register here: https://bit.ly/commitnextrightaction
A follow-up to Finding Our Next Right Action held on June 4, 2020 (participants do not need to have attended June 4).
We’ve listened, we’ve discerned, we’ve created lists—what’s next? Come connect with others to learn more about and sign up for action steps generated from the “Finding Our Next Right Action” forum held on June 4 (see the doc outlining next steps here: https://bit.ly/nextrightstepsdoc). There is work enough for everyone — some of it personal, some of it within and some outside Unity Church.
July 3, 2020
Beloved Community Program Update: Finding Our Next Right Action
Unity's Beloved Community Staff Team
As part of two gatherings following the killing of George Floyd, “Finding Our Next Right Action” provided Unity Church members a chance to connect online, ask questions, discuss next steps, and stay engaged. Breakout groups organized by topics—from protesting to legislative demands around policing to hands-on volunteering—provided opportunities for constructive exchange of information and discerning our next right action. From the array of ideas generated, the Beloved Community Staff Team worked to organize and discern next steps, prioritizing actions that expand upon existing ministries, that create brave space for deeper relationships with community partners, that ask for greater humility and spontaneity in addressing gaps in our commitments, that enlarge our prophetic imagination in the work of racial justice. There is work for everyone, from Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) assessments to community organizing training with Team Dynamics to legislative work on policing with the Racial and Restorative Justice Team. For those who participated in earlier breakout sessions and all others who are seeking to engage in this moment’s call to action, please click here for Finding Our Next Right Action.
June 24, 2020
Beloved Community Program Update: #WeCantBreathe // Finding Our Next Right Action
Unity's Beloved Community Staff Team
In early June, a little over one week after the killing of George Floyd, Karen Hering and KP Hong of the Beloved Community Staff Team convened two programs, prompted by conversations of Black clergy and leaders. The first, #WeCantBreathe, was an opportunity for people to come together on Zoom to reflect on what our broken hearts can teach us in times like these, and what our UU faith calls us to do in the wake of the killing. We looked inward to our spiritual practices as the first step.
Finding Our Next Right Action, the second program, was held the following night. Seventy-five people showed up online to ask questions and discuss next steps. Breakout groups organized by topic such as “protesting,” “police reform/abolition,” “neighborhood organizing,” and more, raised many good questions, highlighting the need to learn from and perhaps be guided by our uncertainty. The resource list generated from these discussions is being prepared separately. Follow-up and next steps are underway by the Beloved Community Staff Team, please watch for more information. CLICK HERE for a summary of the breakout groups from this online program.
What became clear is that the next steps forward have to lead from engagement with the community. This will help us cultivate or strengthen right relationship with Black leaders by building on connections already made or by building new ones. If ever there was a time to lean into our Ends of creating brave space for racial healing, dismantling dominant culture, and creating a multicultural spiritual home built on authentic relationships, this surely is it. But, how do we take our uncertainty and work in proximity with Black leaders to affect change?
The Beloved Community Staff Team is working to identify key pieces of potential work from the range of ideas generated at these discussions, as well as address any gaps that might need our attention. There is work enough for everyone. Some of it is personal work like taking the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) to examine our own path toward the anti-racist values to which we aspire. Other work is practical, like helping with rebuilding businesses damaged in the protests. Still other work is legislative, to make sure this moment doesn’t pass without significant change. Please watch for more information about our next right actions in congregational email messages and on the Unity Church website.
May 29, 2020
Our list of community resources includes where to donate money and resources, current needs and information about direct action/protests, and anti-racism learning resources.
Beloved Community Resources
Unity Justice Database
Team Dynamics House of Intersectionality
Anti-Racism Resources in the Unity Libraries Collection
Creative Writers of Color in Unity Libraries
The History of Race Relations and Unity Church, 1850-2005
Beloved Community Staff Team
The Beloved Community Staff Team (BCST) strengthens and coordinates Unity’s antiracism and multicultural work, and provides opportunities for congregants and the church to grow into greater intercultural competency. We help the congregation ground itself in the understanding of antiracism and multiculturalism as a core part of faith formation. We support Unity’s efforts to expand our collective capacity to imagine and build the Beloved Community. Here, we share the stories of this journey — the struggles, the questions, and the collaborations — both at Unity and in the wider world.
The current members of the Beloved Community Staff Team include Rev. Kathleen Rolenz, Rev. KP Hong, Rev. Lara Cowtan, Barbara Hubbard, Drew Danielson, Laura Park, Lia Rivamonte and Angela Wilcox.