As we write this letter, there is a fair amount of pain and heartache in the body of our faith, Unitarian Universalism. There are two significant things that are unfolding and unrelated, except for their connection to Unitarian Universalism. We felt it important to share both of them with you in advance of Sunday.
First in our greater denomination, there is much conversation after a recent hiring decision that completed the regional leadership; resulting in all white ministers occupying top leadership within congregational life. Concern was brought forward about hiring practices and systemic racism within the power dynamics of our Unitarian Universalist Association. This resulted in a large volume of communication most of which can be found in this link:
This is not easily explained, but the above link may help you in understanding the sequence of events. We ourselves have weighed in, sharing personal stories of how we have come to understand racism and white supremacy (here we are drawing from anti-racism and dismantling racism work). We have joined voices with many colleagues, institutions and UU professionals of color who are asking for a review of the hiring practices, systemic accountability and new systems to serve our vision of an anti-racist, multicultural association. At times over these last few days, our words have confused some of you and angered others. We recognize that we find ourselves in an extraordinarily difficult time as Unitarian Universalists, as those living within the United States, and as global citizens.
A part of the events that have taken place include the resignation of our UUA President Peter Morales. We are extraordinarily saddened by this, both for Peter personally and for our Association, as we do not believe this to be the resolution of the problem at hand. Our prayers are with Peter and his family at this time and the many Unitarian Universalists, especially those who are people of color, who have been in this struggle for so long.
We welcome you to read the resources above as well as others put forth by UU leaders and those who work within anti-racism theory. We also encourage you to consider each one of us as a resource. Please do reach out. We will be holding a facilitated conversation for the congregation on the recent events as well as time to better understand the historical context. We invite you to join us on Tuesday April 18th from 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Peter’s resignation means that he will not be with us for the installation and affirmation on Sunday. Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, of the UUA Stewardship and Development Office, has graciously stepped in to represent our Association.
The second piece of news may be triggering for those with histories of abuse. We caution further reading.
A Unitarian Universalist colleague, Ron Robinson, has been arrested on charges of accessing child pornography. The news of this comes with the announcement that includes a confession from Rev. Robinson whose ministry in Oklahoma was highly regarded by many of our colleagues and Unitarian Universalists. Some of you may recognize his name as a call for support to his community went out several weeks ago after a fire damaged their church. As the investigation continues, our prayers are with Ron’s wife and children, the community in Oklahoma, as well as all of those who have been triggered and harmed by child abuse. We live into a faith that in the midst of our terror and trauma affirms each of us as have dignity and worth. We offer humble prayers for the children whose inherent worth and dignity was so abjectly disregarded. We offer humble prayers that a road of healing is yet possible for all impacted by this news, including Ron.
It is important to us that you are each cared for in the midst of this painful news. We love you beyond belief. If you feel triggered, in need of care or support resources, we are offering drop-in sessions with Revs. Emilie and Robin tomorrow from 10:00 a.m. until noon.
Installations and affirmations are like a wedding in that they represent the sacred seal of community upon the covenant we share as a Leadership Team with each of you, the members and friends of Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation. We know that to be in any sacred relationship – a marriage or a congregation – is both the experience of joy and struggle. And so, beloved, in the midst of the pain of our Association and the joy of this weekend, and the struggle in our midst, we affirm the greater love and faith we share, and the path before us all. We have been in struggle together before. The way is hard, the path is long, and love and Life herself lead us on.
In faith and abiding love,
Rev. Emilie Boggis, Dr. Tuli Patel, and Rev. Robin Tanner