To do the work of culture change, to live into antiracist, antioppressive, multicultural practices of the Beloved Community, we need abiding compassion, grace, and practices of solidarity and mutuality. And…the liberation we all need starts with centering the leadership and experiences of those most directly impacted by systemic racism and oppression."
-Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray, President, Unitarian Universalist Association
The quotation above is taken from UUWorld, the quarterly publication of Unitarian Universalism. This arrived in my mailbox last week, and comes to everyone who is an official member of a UU congregation such as ours. I have been inspired by Rev. Susan’s leadership throughout her presidency, and I find her words here to be a guidepost leading forward.
This concept of Beloved Community comes to us from Dr. King and it resonates fully with Unitarian Universalist values and principles. Last week I invoked this idea when I was leading a Hanukkah service and exploring the tension of doing so as a non-Jew. Creating a space to celebrate Hanukkah in a UU congregation gives a chance for the people who identify as Jewish (or have Jewish traditions in their personal lives) to be seen more fully for who they are; and gives the non-Jews in the congregation a chance to learn and appreciate something outside of their cultural/religious heritage. This is—if we do it right—a moment of living into Beloved Community. It allows for “the fullest unfolding of the personality of every person” in “an all-inclusive spirit of kinship.” Such moments abound in a community such as this congregation—opportunities to see one another in our fullness, our difference, our uniqueness.
Unitarian Universalism, being a multifaith religion without a single sacred text or single belief about the divine, sometimes struggles to articulate what we do believe in. This framing of Beloved Community works very well for me. Isn’t this something we can all support? A world of love where our interest and appreciation for each other crowds out our tendency to “other” someone different from ourselves. A community in which we all feel safe expressing our full selves. This is the vision and hope of our religious movement.
Spirit of Life and Love, known as God, as Allah, as Goddess, as Yahweh, as the voice of truth within, be with me now. Bless the leadership and loving ministry of Susan Frederick-Gray to this nationwide and worldwide movement of Unitarian Universalism. Bless the enduring hopeful vision of brother Martin Luther King, Jr. who dared to speak up for love again and again in the face of hate.
May we take our place among and beside these leaders, speaking for love and inclusion and compassion.
May it be so.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
December 9, 2021