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Assistant Minister's Column

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      In April our church hosted Dr. Mark Hicks and Julica Hermann. They facilitated a discussion around race, ethnicity and Unitarian Universalism with 40 leaders in our church called Beloved Conversations. Our leaders divided into 4 small groups that will continue these discussions in the coming weeks.

      It is too early for me to tell you the results of those conversations. It may always be too early to report on those types of conversations, but I feel very hopeful. Our church was founded so that the people of Baton Rouge could have an integrated place to worship. And we are doing good work at being a beacon for our city. But there is still work to do.

      If I want a church where people of color feel welcomed, it means that I have to notice things that are uncomfortable for me to look at. I have to start looking at the systems in the church that value one culture and type of expression and experience over another.

      I have to be aware of how these larger systems have put me in positions of power and safety. I have to listen to what our members, especially members of color, tell me about their experiences. I have to do this without finding ways to discredit their stories in an attempt to alleviate some of my feelings of helplessness, guilt or shame.

      I have hope because we are the only church in Baton Rouge that I know of that is doing this work. Maybe I’m wrong. Hopefully I’m wrong, but I don’t know of another faith community that is intentionally looking into the years of violence and abuse towards people of color and working towards reconciliation.

      I know that I am called to heal the wounds that have been inflicted over generations. I am called to build a world healthier and holier than the one we inherited. I am committed to a church that works to dismantle racism, and build a better world. We are on uncharted ground, and I hope that through these Beloved Conversations we will build the church the city of Baton Rouge deserves.