A Vital Voice for Love and Justice
This is a moment of enormous change. Disconnection, isolation and division are real. Uncertainty about the future is real. People are looking for something to hold onto; for something to hold them.
More than ever, we need to invest in nurturing spiritually vital communities that teach us how to grow our hearts for deeper courage and compassion. By vital, I mean healthy, life-giving, essential. We need congregations and ministries that invite people into greater connection across families, generations, neighborhoods and cultures to offer a path away from disconnection and division.
At the UU Congregation of Phoenix, we are known for our justice work. But our public justice work is an outward manifestation of our community’s spiritual growth. First, we focused on becoming a beloved community, strengthening covenant and right relations, attending to the spiritual health of the community and organizing ourselves around mission. The power of our witness emerges from the trust we have built as a community and our intentional work to grow the presence of love and compassion in our lives and beyond.
This moment is longing for a vital spiritual voice that calls us toward our best selves – to articulate the power of love in the face of fear, the importance of compassion, reverence and interconnection when it comes to how we must live into the global realities of the 21st century.
What better voice to respond to this moment than a faith that practices love embodied in inclusive community. A faith that teaches courage in times of challenge. A faith that sees the tough realities of the moment without losing sight of the possibilities, the hope and the capacity of the human mind and spirit.
Grounded in Relationship
Grounded in Relationship
Deepening our relationships within and beyond our Association is essential for the health and vitality of our faith. It is an antidote to individualism and isolation.
Within Unitarian Universalism
Unitarian Universalism will thrive only if our congregations and communities are healthy and strong. I have provided leadership to congregations in all 5 regions of the Association and know first hand what we share across geography and where we differ. In the midst of the move to regionalization, we need to make sure we communicate clearly the opportunities regionalization offers for stronger and more diverse resources to congregations. We also need to ensure that regionalization does not result in a decline in services to congregations.
Let’s create funds for congregations on the cusp of greater growth and seed funds for innovative local ministries. Let’s strengthen the direct relationships of the UUA with our local communities so that the UUA will be a strong conduit for strengthening our mission, amplifying meaningful ministry and sharing the best practices across our Association.
As UUA President, I bring a commitment to strengthening the relationships and communication between the UUA and our congregations and covenanted communities.
Beyond Unitarian Universalism
The challenges of this moment — racial inequality, environmental devastation, mass incarceration and deportations, economic inequality, and gender and sexual orientation discrimination — call for broad coalitions of people working together for change. We must move beyond the parochial borders of our own making to deepen our partnerships with other liberal religious communities and those on the front lines of justice movements.
In Phoenix, working with grassroots migrant and immigrant rights groups has not only invited us into a deeper experience of our faith and how we are called, it has fostered greater intercultural competency and multiculturalism in our congregation. These relationships have deepened our understanding of power and privilege and the importance of shifting power to make room for more voices and perspectives to be included.
Developing partnerships beyond Unitarian Universalism with grassroots movements for justice, like Black Lives Matter and #Not1More, invites us into work that demands we unpack generations-old social norms that keep us monolithic. We can be bold and take risks to reach beyond how we have understood ourselves to unlock the full capacity within our faith to embody a more inclusive, loving and just future. Through partnership and witness, we offer the world a model of faith that shows up and is lived in our hands and feet, our hearts and minds.
Organized for Impact
Organized for Impact
As a global community, we face urgent issues of racial inequality, environmental degradation and threats to human dignity. To rise to this moment, we need to be organized for impact so that our energy, our faith and our resources are powerfully focused on amplifying our values.
This will require change in our institution. Too often our voice on critical justice issues feels well polished but misses the moment. Too often, our justice work and lived faith is overly focused on process – forgetting that impact matters.
In the midst of economic challenges that have affected our Association and congregations, people are inclined to focus on preserving the institution to the detriment of mission. The key question we must ask is will we be in the business of preserving our institution, or will we be in the business of living our mission in bold and just, loving and courageous ways.
This is not an either/or question. It is both/and. We lived this both/and at the 2012 Justice General Assembly. In 2010, GA delegates voted not to boycott, but to keep the 2012 GA in Phoenix and to suspend business as usual so that the positive impact of our Assembly would be greater than boycotting. In the planning of Justice GA, there were times when conflicts over process and authority threatened to undermine the commitment we had made. To these moments, I brought the capacity to keep a laser sharp focus on the vision, to articulate it simply and compellingly, to keep us true to the promises we made to bring a powerful, impactful, immigrant rights, human rights focused Justice GA to Phoenix. And yet, Justice GA didn’t just make a difference on the ground, it made a difference in us. It reminded us of the strength of our faith and the depth of its courage and love.
When we choose mission first, it allows us to ask: How would we structure a religious association for the 21st century? Some of the ways we have done things no longer serve us. We need to preserve the strongest, healthiest aspects of our institutions while discarding that which keeps us from living our faith boldly and effectively. We need to be flexible, responsive and ready to lead in this moment.
What we need is an Association with clarity of vision about who we are called to be and the ability to focus our resources and our structure all towards achieving that vision.
As UUA President, I would bring strategic vision, clarity and the relational and organizing skills to move our Association forward as a mission-led institution focused on outcomes and impact.