Unity Church Is on a Journey
Mary Pickard on behalf of the Beloved Community Staff Team
We’re on a journey to becoming a multicultural anti-racist community. What’s the path, you ask? How do we actually do this as a congregation? What, exactly, are we being called to do? Those are some of the questions that arise as we commit to this journey.
Unity’s Board of Trustees developed the current Ends Statements (https://www.unityunitarian.org/values-mission-ends.html) over a five-month intensive discernment process involving the entire church community. Two of our 2018-2023 Unity Ends Statements commit us to:
The Executive Team was charged with setting and measuring concrete strategies for all the Ends Statements. As one example, the Religious Education Ministry Team is conducting an extensive evaluation of the R.E. curricula with the goal of situating our UU faith in multiculturalism. Another is to strengthen small group ministry opportunities with intentional emphasis on cultural identity.
But are we individually prepared to do the work? What cultural lens will each of us bring to this? How will we build a common understanding of our approach? That’s why the strategies for achieving our Ends Statements contain a healthy dose of training and coaching — but not the kind of diversity training so many of us have experienced in the past.
Unity Church is taking a different approach, based on the IDI – the Intercultural Development Inventory. Those who developed the IDI define intercultural competence as “the capability to accurately understand and adapt behavior to cultural difference and commonality.”
“It’s the most widely used assessment tool of intercultural competence,” according to Rev. KP Hong. “The IDI has been rigorously tested, with validation from extensive social science as a reliable measure of intercultural competence across cultures. It invites us to better understand and grow our own multicultural competence — both as individuals and as a congregation.”
Taking the online IDI assessment gives us a sense of our intercultural capacity. With coaching, we can create action plans that will help us develop the skills to bridge across differences. KP is quick to note there is no one path or simple formula, “We have to be willing to fail, as failure attests to the credibility of our work. That’s how we learn and move forward. That’s where humility comes in.”
Unity Church is working with Team Dynamics on our journey. I have worked with them, using the IDI, at a nonprofit where I am a volunteer board member. This nonprofit has seen significant changes in human resources and benefits policies, grant guidelines and processes, candidate search and hiring practices. It is sometimes difficult, messy and discouraging. It is sometimes exciting, adventuresome, and satisfying. It is always filled with curiosity, growth, and care for each other.
Thanks to the Helener Currier Endowment for Racial Justice at Unity Church, the IDI and follow-up coaching sessions are being offered to religious education teachers, pastoral care team members, worship associates, welcome team members, Obama School volunteers, and other key ministry groups. Those who participate can receive a confidential, individualized coaching session to help design a personal action plan. In addition, each team will be given a group profile and coaching to create action plans to help move the congregation toward achievement of its hopes and dreams for the Beloved Community.
If you aren’t in any of these groups and are not personally contacted to take the IDI, but wish to participate, you are welcome to do so! To inquire or sign up, please contact Drew Danielson at firstname.lastname@example.org, who is administering the process.
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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.