Merrill Aldrich and Shelley Butler, on behalf of the Beloved Community Communications Team
The Beloved Community Staff Team (BCST), like many of us, thought that the pandemic was our biggest challenge in 2020 but everything seemingly changed on May 25, 2020, with the killing of George Floyd. Not only did the world explode with anger and action, so did Unity Church. Within days of Mr. Floyd’s death, the BCST delivered a video statement and organized a two-night event, “#WeCantBreathe” and “Next Right Action.” With this, the team began what BCST member Erika Sanders called “the most impactful change in the past year” in establishing the Next Right Action framework.
Determined not just to hold one or two meetings and then go back to “normal,” the BCST expressed determination to continue efforts to include antiracism and multicultural work in every area of the church. Members of the BCST, the Racial and Restorative Justice Team, the Sustainability Living Team, and many other teams and congregants showed up to continue Next Right Action work.
In August, Rob and Janne followed up with a “Reflecting on the Journey” session. The Racial and Restorative Justice Team created new objectives, inspired the Justice Database, and held a series of “Reimagining Public Safety: A Circle of Peace” sessions. Next, the “Finding Our Next Right Action” forum brought together representatives of many of the teams and initiatives of Unity Church and offered opportunities for members to sign up for specific work. One of the new offerings was Antiracism Literacy Partners; the team and interested congregants met again in September and November, and will meet again in February.
Perhaps we, as a congregation, were able to jump into “Justice for George” because Unity has been involved in antiracism work for many years, acknowledging that we have a long way to go. Our engagement with Team Dynamics to grow our individual and collective ability to bridge the “differences that make a difference” continued in 2020, culminating in the excellent seven-part “Equity + Justice” series in the fall, in which some 200 people participated.
In 2020, many individuals and key ministry teams took advantage of the opportunity to take the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and receive coaching on both the results of their inventory and their Individual Development Plan (IDP). Also, the Racial Justice Film series and the Artist in Residency program continued. With the pending departure of Lisa Friedman in spring 2020, Karen Hering and Laura Park joined the Beloved Community Staff Team and strengthened it, jumping into the work feet first. There is more but we’re out of space to list it all.
Moving into its fifth year, it’s clear to see that the BCST has made great strides in strengthening and coordinating antiracism and multicultural initiatives at Unity Church, now with the ongoing support of the Helener Currier Endowment for Racial Justice. Aspirations for this year include opportunities for us to deepen involvement with our IDP, but check in next month when the BCST looks forward to the work of 2021 in greater detail.
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, Barbara Hubbard, Drew Danielson, Laura Park, Rev. Karen Gustafson, Angela Wilcox, Pauline Eichten, and Erika Sanders.