Beloved Conversations

What is it about?

  • Beloved Conversations is an experiential curriculum that provides a space to re-form the brokenness of racism into new patterns of thought and behavior ushering in social and spiritual healing. New ways of being are learned through the actions of conversation and probing dialogue.
  • Designed by UUs for UUs. The curriculum was created by Dr. Mark Hicks, a professor of Religious Education at Meadville Lombard Theological School, our UU seminary in Chicago. He holds a doctorate degree in Philosophy and Education and a Master’s degree in Adult Education from Columbia University (NYC).
  • Since 2010, more than 100 UU congregations have been participated in the Beloved Conversations curriculum, which is now in its third iteration as part of an ongoing process of revision.
  • This year will be RRUUC’s 8th offering of this class including a yearlong study that the RRUUC staff participated in.

When does it meet?

The program will begin with a 1.5 day retreat, Friday, January 31 (6-9pm) & Saturday, February 1 (9:15am-5pm), facilitated by Jenice View, a life-long member of All Souls Church (Unitarian) in Washington, DC, growing up in that congregation and serving most recently as a past president of the Board of Trustees. She presently works as a tenured professor of Education at George Mason University,  providing professional development to graduate students across the nation.

  • The retreat will start with a potluck dinner at 6pm on Friday evening, followed by the first part of the program from 7-9pm.
    • Saturday will start with a light breakfast at 9:15 a.m. (coffee/tea, bagels, fruit, etc.), we will break for lunch (which will be provided) around Noon, then wrap up by 5pm.
  • The retreat will be followed by 8 two-hour sessions (held every other week following the retreat) of guided dialogue/experiential exercises facilitated by Gabrielle Farrell, Lifespan Religious Educator and Jenny Sour, Co-Chair of the Educating for Change Pathway for Racial Justice.   The dates/times of the 8 follow-up sessions will be selected in order to accommodate, as much as possible, the schedules of all who register . Depending on the schedules of participants, we hope to at least offer the follow-up sessions (every other week) on: Mondays at 7:00 p.m.

Philosophy and Session Plans

Each session poses questions that connect with both the sources of inspiration as well as the challenges of race/ethnicity that slow our human journey toward building a society of peace, liberty, and justice for all. As such, the curriculum differs from many approaches to anti-racism/multicultural work in that it frames the discussion not only in terms of demographic urgency or cultural critiques (both of which are useful to understand!), but how developing skills and the habits of an anti-racist mind helps everyone heal from the wounds of racism–both those in dominant groups as well as those who are targets of oppression.

Topics include:

  • The Footprint of Racial & Ethnic History in Our Larger Community
  • Exploring the Dynamic of Racism and Privilege
  • Racism Today: Micro-Aggressions
  • Interrupting Racism
  • Community Audit: The Experience of Race & Ethnicity in your Community
  • The Legacy of Racism
  • Toward a New Identity: How Can We Be-in-the-World?
  • Collecting our Wisdom: A Celebration of Learning and Commitment

Why this class?

This curriculum equips members and friends of RRUUC a shared experience and language for moving forward with our commitment to encourage spiritual growth, how to build beloved community, and act for peace and justice.

Forty-eight (48) River Road friends and members (plus 11 Staff members)  have made this commitment with most continuing this work after the class ended.

Testimonies

  • One of the most beautiful aspects of Beloved Conversations was seeing its transformative potential come to bear…. I was moved to my core witnessing Unitarian Universalism come alive to members of my congregation. Rev. Manish Mizra-Marzetti, Senior Minister, UU Congregation at Cherry Hill
  • “Many [participants] said that this was the first time, or the first time in a long time, when they had been part of a conversation about race that left them hopeful. Out of these conversations, we are beginning to shape a way forward to address and ‘interrupt’ racism is all its forms: institutional, cultural, and individual.” Rev. Kate Lore, Minister for Social Justice, First Unitarian Church, Portland, OR
  • I watched as people struggled with concepts of privilege, institutional racism and stereotyping in ways they hadn’t until that point. More importantly, I witnessed most staying fully engaged despite that struggle. Jennifer Kelleher, Intern Minister, UU Congregation at Cherry Hill

Cost

$80 for pledging congregants ($100 for others) though registrants can be waived for anyone who requests such at registration. The registration fee pays for the outside facilitator for the opening retreat, expenses of hosting the retreat and the Community Audit. Registration by January 12 is here.