“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” – Cynthia Occelli
With the development of Unity's new Ends statement – “create a multicultural spiritual home based on authentic relationships” – the Beloved Community Staff Team created an experimental group called Multicultural Conversation Partners. Among the dozen or so in the group, half the members are persons of color and half are white. These multiracial partnerships are in regular conversation, both as duos and as the larger group.
The idea is to foster an ongoing conversation/learning process, which KP Hong describes as risking “an encounter with another that distances ourselves from our familiarities” -- going beyond the usual racialized forms of self-protection and moral shelter.
I am struck by the phrase “moral shelter.” I interpret it to mean the ways in which I affirm my identify as a “good” white person, someone who is aware of systemic racism and opposed to it. I don’t easily admit to the racist thoughts that bubble up from my subconscious. I’m active around issues of racial equality, but I’m not sure I’m willing to put my life in danger. When I traveled by myself to a one-time Sundown town in southern Illinois, it never occurred to me that it could be dangerous for my bi-racial daughter to do the same.
“I’m doing enough,” my comfortable white self says. And then I read about another white person calling the police on black people going about their lives, playing golf or having a picnic in the park, or another black man being shot by police. And I know that there is an urgency to change and I must do my part.
As the Unity Church congregation works to live into our aspiration to create a multicultural spiritual home, there will be change. And from that change will come growth. The hope is that these conversation partners can help to develop a possible reality beyond racialized barriers that will offer new ways of doing/being that can apply to congregational life.
“We cannot obtain what we lack if we tenaciously cling to what we have.” – Charles F. Haanel
 The Multicultural Conversation Partners include Sheila Bosc, Jessica Burton, Rico Duran, Pauline Eichten, Kevin Harris, Heidi Johnson, Rich Lau, Mary Pickard, Lia Rivamonte, Erika Sanders, Jon Vaughan-Fier, Ray Wiedmeyer