Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism drafts bylaws, introduces membership program, and works to end cash bail.
Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism’s Team Sankofa formed at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit in June 2018. (Courtesy Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism)
Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) has announced that it is sponsoring a three-day symposium on black theology this fall. The Harper-Jordan Memorial Symposium, October 30 to November 2 in St. Paul, Minnesota, is named for Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, an abolitionist, suffragist, author, and Unitarian, and the Rev. Joseph Jordan, the first black ordained Universalist minister.
Lena K. Gardner, BLUU executive director, said that while all are welcome, the symposium is prioritizing spaces for black people, indigenous people, and other people of color. Registration is offered at a sliding scale, and people who wish to provide scholarships for other attendees are encouraged to do so.
“We are really excited and hope people register and come!” Gardner says.
BLUU’s goals are to expand the power and capacity of black UUs within the faith; to provide support, information, and resources for black UUs; and to focus on justice-making and liberation through the faith.
Leading up to the symposium, BLUU is hosting monthly conversations among BLUU members via Zoom. The talks will dive into UU Principles through a black perspective, Gardner says, and will be available to everyone via a subscription to BLUU’s YouTube channel. The first conversation, in February, was with the Rev. William G. Sinkford and the Rev. Sofía Betancourt, who served, along with Leon Spencer, as interim co-presidents of the Unitarian Universalist Association in the spring of 2017.
This past year, BLUU has continued to strengthen organizationally, establishing its bylaws and membership model and developing an organizational chart that de-emphasizes hierarchy, says Gardner.
In collaboration with Team Sankofa, BLUU has launched Babies & Bailouts to work toward ending the cash bail system and to gather baby supplies for women and families affected by mass incarceration. On Sunday, April 28, there will be an online panel discussion of the issue of cash bail, and BLUU encourages UUs and UU congregations to host a Babies & Bailouts Watch Party and Donation Drive.
“I’m really proud of the work we’ve done in the time we’ve had,” says Gardner. “We are a really small group of people working really hard and we’ve accomplished quite a bit in a short period of time, and we hope to continue serving black UUs and living more deeply into our faith. We’re trying to live out visions of Black Unitarian Universalism in meaningful ways and to build Beloved Community, and justice building and liberation for all people are at the center of that.”
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Elaine McArdle is a UU World senior editor and a member of First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon. An award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she has also written for the Boston Globe, Harvard Law Bulletin, and others.
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