From Erika Sanders,
Beloved Community Staff Team
In order to fulfill one of Unity’s new Ends Statements, to “Create a multicultural spiritual home built on authentic relationships,” the church has engaged outside help! We’re delighted to be working with Team Dynamics, a firm of consultants guiding us through processes of deep discernment and groundbreaking work.
First, Team Dynamics is working with church congregants and staff to investigate our current culture, including potential points of bias, resistance to change, and exclusivity. Team Dynamics created an inventory of our policies, communications, and other information about us, in order to assess our day-to-day patterns of awareness and behaviors.
Next, Unity Church and Team Dynamics will work together to co-design a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Roadmap in support of our End Statements. Why diversity, equity and inclusion, you ask? The three key components shaping the roadmap are distinct and work in concert:
Diversity – a fact of human difference, not an outcome
Equity – recognition that one-size-fits-all solutions do not work for everybody
Inclusion – different people get to contribute and make decisions in ways that may change systems
Creating the DEI Roadmap involves defining our vision for the future; clarifying our values; determining shared, measurable goals centered on bridging across “differences that make a difference” (such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, and more); and engaging a greater diversity of perspectives. In Team Dynamic’s words, the DEI Roadmap will help us “slow down and really consider the difference between what we know, what we think we know, and where we are just guessing.”
The Roadmap will work in concert with the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). Unity has used the IDI developmental model in recent years to expand our ability to understand and work across cultural difference. The IDI model offers practical guidance on how organizations and individuals can improve their intercultural competence, and grow along a continuum.
Finally, Team Dynamics will support Unity in building its capacity to reach its goals, and will give us guided opportunities to try out new practices and reflect on what we are learning. These opportunities will include retreats, learning seminars, and practice sessions.
Unity’s Beloved Community Staff Team will work to ensure that these opportunities for growth are integrated into all areas of church ministry — for example, in worship, community outreach, welcome teams, religious education, and communications.
Questions about this exciting work? Contact Rev. KP Hong, Director of Religious Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erika Sanders, Beloved Community Staff Team
Over six weeks in May and June, I was honored to be a volunteer photographer documenting seven marches, rallies and protests ("actions," in short) organized by the Minnesota Poor People's Campaign. Actions took place to take a moral stand on several issues: to protest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); to urge environmental justice and stop Enbridge's Line 3 oil pipeline proposal; to call for fair treatment of workers and a living wage; and to publicly and collectively imagine a budget built for peace, not militarism and war.
As an amateur but avid photographer I've photographed many events and political actions. Each has a distinct mood, or combination of moods, including grief, pain, outrage, fury, love, pleading, demanding, longing, buoyancy, diffuse or focused energy, humor, and awkwardness. The Poor People's Campaign events had elements of all these, but they also had unusually potent feelings of joy, hope, and possibility. And that felt miraculous. I came to look forward to each action with greater and greater eagerness, and I don't think I was alone in that sensation.
I suspect there are a lot of reasons the Poor People's Campaign actions felt and looked that way through my camera's lens. But there's one reason that strikes me most: these events were the embodiment of what we have come to call intersectionality: the understanding of how different types of oppression and injustice compound and magnify one another, and how any one thread of collective or individual identity is woven alongside many others. They gave fresh life to Dr. King's admonishment that "we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."
We talked about how protecting our environment is bound up in fighting racism. We learned about a living wage as not just a matter of economic justice — but as a matter of racial and gender justice, too. We dreamed of a world where refugees and asylum-seekers are greeted with radical hospitality, no matter their race, national origin, or socioeconomic status. The participants and planners of the Poor People's Campaign modeled and reflected this sense of interwoven destiny. They were an incredibly diverse group, and partners came from many faith traditions and many organizations, including Jewish Community Action, CTUL, 15 Now Minnesota, MIRAC (Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee), Minnesota Council of Churches, the Center for Sustainable Justice, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Minnesota, Veterans for Peace, the Rye House, the Center for Prophetic Action, Ujamaa Place, and Women Against Military Madness. Unity Church people were there, of course, in the thick of it all. Many put their bodies directly in service to the group purpose, and were arrested.
As my shutter clicked thousands of times, capturing people speaking, yelling, singing, marching, and being handcuffed, I was struck by how rare this embodiment of intersectionality really is. It's one thing to understand it intellectually, but another to witness it. To do it, feel it, be it. And we did. It was precious.
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.