We can help each other learn and grow and we can keep each other company when the learning is really uncomfortable. When Learning Is Uncomfortable undefined

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Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, Weekly News and Reflections

November 1, 2019

Melissa Carvill Ziemer, Director of Collegial Practices

An Open Letter to My White Colleagues


Last week in this space Rev. Darrick Jackson shared “” I’m following his lead with this letter to my white colleagues because I want to remind myself and all of us that we need each other in particular and essential ways.


We need each other for pastoral care and spiritual support. We didn’t sign up to be socialized into racism; it happened without our knowledge or consent beginning before we were born. Reckoning with the impact of all that has been lost in the protection and maintenance of white privilege can be devastating. But if we have support, we don’t need to get stuck in feelings of guilt or shame or sorrow. I’m so grateful to the people who helped me embrace this good news over the years. On the other side of heartbreak, I’ve found more joy, deeper connection and greater faith than I knew to dream. We can be witnesses and healers for each other.


We can be teachers too. Learning to divest of the power and privilege that we have been socialized to expect is the work of a lifetime. If we are going to try, we are going to mess up. When we do, chances are good that our mistakes may be painful, for others and for ourselves. That is precisely when we need each other most. It doesn’t help when we distance from each other. Your mistakes could be mine and mine could be yours. We can help each other learn and grow and we can keep each other company when the learning is really uncomfortable.


All of us in leadership in the UUMA are deeply committed to the work of dismantling white supremacy culture in our ministry, in our faith and in our world. We hold this commitment not because it is politically correct, but because it is spiritually essential if we are to live into the promise of Unitarian Universalism. Racism and other systems of oppression dehumanize us all, which is why all of us are being invited to .


If you don’t already have one, I invite you to find a place and some people with whom you can reflect on your practice. Joining our next could be a good one-time opportunity. Or for something more sustained, you might consider joining a white caucus space. The UUMA staff has recently begun identity caucusing as part of our continuing education time. Though it has been a couple of years since I’ve been in a white caucus space, I was immediately reminded of its value. White caucuses are great places to ask questions, name feelings, give and receive care, practice accountability, build capacity for resilience and find joy in the journey.


If you are on FaceBook and you want to take part in on-line caucus spaces, you might consider the Learning Ground for White Female and Non-Binary UU Ministers (to whom I’m grateful for help with this letter) or the Post-Bruno White Fellas Working It Out in the UUA. If you would rather be part of a face to face electronic group with colleagues, I'd be happy to support creation of a white caucus group. And if there is something else you need to support you in your ministry, please don’t hesitate to reach out and I'll do what I can to help you connect with or create what you need.


hands in holding onto each other in a circle

Opportunities for Connection


Right Relationship "Town Halls"

The proposed Guidelines Revisions call for the establishment of a new office in the UUMA - Right Relationship Guides. Clyde Grubbs, Julica Hermann de la Fuente and Melissa Carvill Ziemer have begun working to identify the skills Right Relationship Guides would need as well as the resources and training to help build those skills.


We’d love to be in conversation with you to ground and inform our work. You are warmly invited to join us at any one of the following times for generative conversation about the theology and practice of right relationship. (We'll ask the same questions on each call and since they are about conversation and exploration, they will not be recorded for later sharing).


– caucus town hall for BIPoC, trans/nb and disabled colleagues


: Another session scheduled!


The UUMA is grateful to have been included in the series of conversations that led to the collaborative Invitation to . Last month we invited your participation in this important conversation using the discussion guide from the UUA exploring the power of we. Enough people indicated interest to warrant another session. If you’d like to participate in a session before leading one or simply want to engage this conversation with colleagues, Melissa Carvill Ziemer will lead a 75 minute session on Tuesday 11/26 at 4pm EST. You can register for this session .


News from the Board


In August of 2019, the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association issued a letter of censure to the Reverend Todd Eklof. We issued this letter because we believe that a public leadership response was necessary given the high-profile nature of Rev. Eklof’s actions and writing and their far-reaching impacts.


Since then, we have received a wide variety of communications from our membership and beyond. These communications have made clear to us that Unitarian Universalists, including laity, clergy and other religious professionals, hold a diverse range of perspectives on the matters at hand. These communications have also made clear that there is some confusion and misinformation about the purpose, governance and authority of the UUMA. To work towards alleviating some of this confusion, we offer some general information regarding the act of censure and our organization as a whole.


To read the boards FAQ on the censure please .

Thank you and welcome: We congratulate Rev. Carmen Emerson on her new ministry! Due to the schedule demands she has had to resign as UUMA Secretary. We are grateful to Rev. Wendy Bartel for agreeing to complete Carmen's term.

For more information about the board please click on the image above


Be in Touch!


Please share your questions,

feedback, and ideas!


Thank you for your service in the world

and for your commitment and passion

for ministry.




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Director of Collegial Practices


Director of Education


Director of Operations


, pro tem

Melissa, Darrick, and Janette






Education Program Assistant


Collegiality Program Assistant


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