Discernment after Ministry Days and General Assembly
Sana Saeed’s article in a recent UUMA Weekly was a celebration of some of the magic
she found at Ministry Days and General Assembly in Spokane this year. Indeed, as we trust you who were there witnessed, there was much to celebrate and honor in both gatherings. And, as you likely experienced or heard, there were also some challenging moments. Our proposed Guidelines, while generally embraced with hope and gratitude, were upsetting to others both before and during our gathering. Additionally, some of our colleagues experienced microaggressions in the 25/50 worship service.* Amidst these tensions, Melissa ministered to us by offering a prayer to hold us in covenant and invite us into our best becoming. Then, later in the week, many of our members were activated by the contents of a book by a colleague and member, which he was disseminating widely during the General Assembly.**
All of this, as well as the events of the last few years, have us in deep discernment about what is called for from us as leaders. We have found it helpful to consider the ways these experiences may be connected. The conflict regarding the proposed Guidelines Revisions, the ongoing reality of microaggressions in our collegial gatherings and the controversy surrounding our colleague’s book seem to have some common ground related to:
- the work of dismantling white supremacy culture in our institutions, associations and congregations,
- the impact of trauma in our institutions, associations and
congregations and in our wider world and what it means for us to be
- how we do or should or could handle conflict and practice
accountability for ministers,
- and questions about authority and responsibility and the appropriate role of the UUMA.
Rest assured that in our discernment and in our actions, we are committed to remaining aligned with our core values. Thus, we are honoring our collegial relationships among ourselves and with our collaborators in other organizations, facilitating learning for our members and nurturing anti-racist, anti-oppressive and multicultural practice. Our commitment is to the health and integrity of our ministry and to the flourishing of our faith.
As we are in discernment, we don’t have any detailed plans to share with you about what comes next. We recognize that many of you may find this disappointing or frustrating. However, we value transparency and honesty over expediency. As much as we wish we had a clear path forward, we just aren’t there yet. Still, we want you to know where we are in our deliberation and discernment about how we are called to lead and how to support and equip you as leaders in this faith we share.
As soon as we are able, we will share more. For now, we just want to remind you that if you have particular questions or want to share your perspective, we are always happy to hear from you.
Rev. Wendy Williams, President of the UUMA Board and
Rev. Melissa Carvill Ziemer, Director of Collegial Practices
*You can access a recording of the 25/50 service here
**You can access several public statements about the book in question and the response it stirred here:
Statement from the UUMA People of Color and Indigenous Chapter:
Statement from a group of white UU ministers
Statement from DRUUMM
Statement from ARE