Showing posts from October, 2014

"removing barriers to participation in governance". by Rev. Dawn Cooley

Join me on a thought experiment, won’t you? In this blog posting, I want to explore an idea, not advocating a particular pathway; to think outside the box and see what happens.

Imagine with me that there is an organization called the Evolution Society. They have an important message about evolution that they want to share with as many people as possible – to really get it out there. They initially appeal to institutions of higher eduction, which join as members and provide funding. But other people want in – people who are not affiliated with the institutions of higher eduction. Some of those people have money they want to give to fund the expansion of the message. Some want to join because they want the snazzy brochures the Evolution Society puts out. Some live in areas where the Creationist Society is dominant and they want to keep in touch with people like them. These folks want in!
Now let’s say that some members of the Evolution Society really don’t want it to evolve. They wantt…

Look Outward Angels!

I asked 'why did the UUA not issue a national call to Ferguson with the same reach and urgency that it did for the Moral Movement March in North Carolina, or the People's Climate March?'.

It was a wrong question, one of the many wrong questions we ask ourselves.

 Because my question and the questions it generated have all been so internally focused. Questions like: How much time do we need for such a call to work? Who makes the call? Even the higher level answers proposed have been internally focused, reminding us again of our historic vacillation on the struggles of people of color.

Why are we so self-focused? 
Unitarian Universalism is an anxious religious movement, and so, it focuses on what it must do to get itself right. How it should organize itself. How it should fund itself. How it should replenish its ranks of ministers. How it should brand itself.
All of that is important, and I mean no disrespect to the people who work on those issues everyday, but we will not f…

Fighting for the Seven Principles.

Some say the UU Seven Principles are bland generalities  that could be affirmed by any Rotary club.
They are not.
Many UU's put them up on the wall of their sanctuaries. They recite them as Responsive Readings in worship services.
Other people put the same principles on banners  and carry them in the streets,  because they challenge the status quo  and the powers that be.

Why No National UU Call to Ferguson?

People are asking why there was no national call to Ferguson Weekend of Resistance by our UU leaders.

Post by St. Louis Standing on the Side of Love.

Rev. Peter Morales issued a statement directed to the St. Louis UU's supporting their actions in the Ferguson struggle. That video came on the eve of the weekend.

Rev. Terasa Cooley (the Program and Strategy Officer) represented the UUA's leadership and was arrested in Ferguson on Sunday, October 12th.

The reports are that about 60 UU's were present for the weekend.

However, there was no timely national call for UU's to come to Ferguson for the weekend of October 10-12th.  Rev. Krista Taves reports that local STL UU ministers had hoped for, and had asked for, such a call, but one did not come.

Explicit and early calls were made by UUA leadership to both  February's Moral Movement March in Raleigh and the recent People's Climate March in New York City.  In each case, the number of UU's participating was around 1…

Zero Tolerance for Mistakes [Landrum]

There are so many social causes in which liberal religion is deeply invested.  But there's one issue that I was raised to believe is sacred and that underpins many other oppressions: education.  An issue in education that is often overlooked, but which has large personal and social ramifications is the rate of suspensions and expulsions.

The issue is, in part, racial.  A couple of years ago it was reported in Michigan that our black students face suspension and expulsion at a much higher rate (22.1%) than white students do (6.2%).  Michigan's gap was at that time the fifth largest gap in the country.  At that time, the Michigan Board of Education called for a new look at zero-tolerance policies, because minority students are disproportionately punished. 

I don't think the situation has gotten much better.  This year, my child's school district was selected for special monitoring because of both the rate of suspension and the differences in suspension rates by race. 

Rewriting the Principles & Sources. By Dawn Cooley

I am grateful for all the deep thoughts that Paul Rasor has compiled intoReclaiming Prophetic Witness: Liberal Religion in the Public Square, which is currently the UUA Common Read. I wrote previously about what our Stinky Pads might be – what proof might there be that we, as liberal religionists, are putting in an effort to get our message out there.
More recently, I have been mulling over the chapter entitled "What Does It Mean to Speak Religiously?" In this section, Rasor points out that, amidst all the religiously conservative voices in the public media, religious liberals "make a huge mistake if we fail to challenge these sorts of public religious voices by offering an alternative religious perspective."
Rasor entreats us to be intentional about saying that we have religious reasons for believing what we do in the public and secular realm, and that these reasons matter. He points out that when we straightforwardly link secular policies with …

Signs of the Stressful Times: Liberal Religious Seminaries by Cynthia Landrum

The last few years have seen a noticeable number of seminaries dealing with major public conflicts.  Some examples (with links to further information about the situations):
Starr King School for the Ministry - Last June the UU seminary Starr King School for the Ministry withheld diplomas from students about to graduate because of an ongoing investigation around leaked information from the recent presidential search process.  General Theological Seminary - A recent walk-out of the faculty at this Episcopal seminary has resulted in the firing of most of the faculty.  The faculty's dispute was with alleged actions of the president and dean, including sexist, racist, and homophobic statements, and breaches of confidentiality.Episcopal Divinity School - The faculty of EDS passed a vote of no confidence in the seminary president.  Tenure for faculty members was put on hold as a result.  The issues cited with the president included student enrollment decline, staff turnover, changes in th…

A suggestion for re-vitalizing seminaries and ministry by Tom Schade

Denominational officials, and in our case, the Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association, should require that ministers in final fellowship take a specified number of continuing education classes periodically. The MFC, acting in consultation with active ministers and school officials, might even suggest the broad kinds of courses that might be particularly useful for different types of ministers.

If done thoughtfully and with foresight, it would not only benefit the ministers, but also create a market for the seminaries to serve.

I think it would be a step in aligning the missions of the schools, the UUA, the UUMA, and the local congregations and agencies.

A host of complications would be required to work through: especially for community ministers who may not have employers who have any desire to be aligned with our UU-specific mission.