Taking Time to Reflect on the 8th Principle
This summer, the Canadian Unitarian Council invites you to join us in a weekly, self-guided reflection series. We want to keep the national conversation going about how we live out the 8th Principle, personally and collectively.
Every Monday in July and August, we will send a reflection, thought or question to our eNews subscribers. Think about it while you go out with the dog, share your thoughts with a friend over coffee, journal about it, or write about it on social media. We invite you to reflect on the question or prompt in whatever way you choose. (Not an eNews subscriber? Sign up today.)
July 4, 2022: Anti-racism Work is Spiritual Work
When was the last time you or your congregation made a change?
Beverly Horton (First Unitarian Congregation of Hamilton) posed this question during a Widening the Circle of Concern session early in 2022. It is one of several questions, says Horton, that is important to consider when engaging with the 8th Principle.
Horton (alongside Rev. Julie Stoneberg) was Co-chair of the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Dismantling Racism Study Group, which was established in May 2019. The group was tasked with identifying and assessing efforts made in our congregations and communities to dismantle racism and other oppressions and explore possible action plans to engage Canadian Unitarian Universalists (UU) in serious conversation and action about racism.
In its final report and recommendations (May 8, 2021), the study group emphasized that anti-racism work is spiritual work–and it is work that requires us to make significant changes within ourselves and our institutions.
. . .there is a gap between who we say we are (our UU principles and aspirations) and the existence of racism within our congregations and communities. While Unitarian Universalists aspire to affirm and promote “the inherent worth and dignity of every person” and “justice, equity and compassion in human relations,” it is clear that this is not the lived experience for everyone who enters our doors. It is also clear that there is a direct correlation between our moderate commitment to racial justice work and the troubling lack of change actually happening in our congregations.
Working towards eliminating this gap is key to being “radically inclusive, striving to create hospitable, diverse, multi-generational communities” and “acceptance of one another and spiritual growth in our congregations.” Anti-racism work is spiritual work. If our congregations are to be vibrant, relevant, and a force for social justice, we must face and address racism while also understanding that many global challenges exist at the intersection of racism, climate change, economic inequities, and other oppressions. To do the work of dismantling racism and undoing white settler culture in our midst, we must forge relationships with BIPOC, those already in our congregations and those in the wider community. And we must actively develop, support and implement anti-racist policies that dismantle systemic racism locally and globally.–Rear Admiral Grace Hopper
As we reflect on the changes we have made (and the changes we have yet to make), Horton invites us to consider the following two quotes in addition to the question posed above.
- “The most dangerous phrase in the language is “we’ve always done it this way.”
- In what ways does this statement resonate with, or describe, how your group (team, committee, Board, etc.) functions? In what ways has your group been resistant to change?
- “There is significant difference between “all are welcome here” and “this was created with you in mind.” @drcrytaljones
- How will your group (re)create itself (and the congregation, more broadly) to become more radically inclusive? Who is the “you” you have kept/are keeping in mind?
Beverly Horton – Biography