Calling Us Forward

By Rev. Carol Bodeau


Dear friends,

As weeks fade into months during the COVID-19 pandemic; as we consider the possibility or eventuality of huge spikes in cases as kids go back to school; as we all try to shift from short-term to long-term strategies for getting through this challenging time… it seems like reassessing priorities is in order.

At Westside, the Board will be meeting this month for a retreat to discuss not only strategies for a church year like no other we have seen, but also to reflect on our role in a rapidly changing world. Recently, the Unitarian Universalist Association called for some massive revaluation on the part of our denomination, our congregations, and all of us as individuals. The recent report of the Commission on Institutional Change, titled Widening the Circle of Community, calls us all to some deep reflection on how we live our values. And this reflection, hopefully, will ultimately lead to some deep and challenging changes of heart, mind and action.

The Commission has been working for three years to assess the presence of racism and institutional prejudice in our denomination, and its findings are both encouraging and daunting. They have produced deep analysis of both the ways Unitarian Universalism has historically been complicit in encouraging racism, and also the ways we are unconsciously continuing to practice prejudice in our ways of doing things. They call us all—as congregations and as people—to take a deep look at ourselves and our communities, and to come forward with courage and commitment to living our values of inclusion and justice.

This is challenging stuff, and it is not stuff that will happen quickly or glibly. No easy to-do lists, or short-term projects, will answer the call to become a truly inclusive, anti-racist organization. So I invite you to join with me this year, as I take the challenge personally, to look at my own ways of thinking, being, and doing. I invite you to come forward with me as I explore concepts like ‘white privilege,’ ‘white fragility,’ ‘racism,’ and ‘decolonization,’ and as I consider how I can shift my inner world in ways to make the outer world more just, more whole, and more peaceful. And I invite you into this conversation with all other Unitarian Universalists, about how we as a faith tradition, and as communities of courageous and committed people, can truly live the values we speak. May it be so.

In faith and gratitude for all that we are, and all that we may become,

Rev. Carol


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Westside Unitarian Universalist Church

616 Fretz Road

Knoxville, TN 37934

(865) 777-9882

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