Since I started here as minister last summer, I was told that the Fellowship did not have a central focus for their social justice work. In a larger congregation, sustaining many social justice initiatives might be feasible—but not with our small size. The work of the social justice coordinating committee is just that: coordinating events and information and efforts on many social justice issues. So this retreat was a good idea. The social justice team presented four issues for the congregation to discuss and eventually vote on.
And it went much better than I expected.
In most UU circles I’ve been part of…really, in most groups I’ve been part of, I would have expected more disagreement. I expected that some people would be passionate about issues that were not even among the four presented—and would express their disappointment loudly. I expected that some people would be dissatisfied with the result of the vote, or with the process. Instead, I witnessed robust discussion in small groups among people with diverse backgrounds and opinions. I saw everyone buy in to the process: people trusted the leaders of the meeting and appreciated them for the work they had put in. The votes were counted and the results were announced: UUFCM will focus our efforts on two social justice issues this year: voting rights, and the environment. Then I saw people volunteer to lead the two new committees that will take the next steps.
Having a congregation where people can work together, where people don’t block consensus just because their ideas are not the most popular ones, where people compromise and come to agreements on things that matter—this is not something to be taken for granted. Many congregations feature dysfunctional communication, power hoarding, and holding grudges. I’ve been serving here for five months now and I continue to be impressed by this congregation and how everyone communicates. We are not perfect. I know that people in the congregation are sometimes hurt by other people’s words and actions, and I hope that we can grow even greater in love and cooperation. What I saw on Saturday shows me that this is a congregation that can work together to make decisions for the good of all by respecting everyone’s voice.
Spirit of life and love, thank you for this Fellowship where people respect each other. Thank you for this group of people dedicated to social justice, willing to work together. Thank you for the imperfections of this Fellowship, showing that we are all human and all can grow deeper in love and respectful communication.
May our work for voting rights and the environment be blessed by humility and by passion. May we encourage each other when the importance of the work shows up as despair, and may we celebrate together every small victory.
May we see that in working toward the beloved community we dream of, we must act like the beloved community: how we treat each other in the struggle matters.
In the name of all that is sacred, to all of the diverse members of this Fellowship, may it be so.