The Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association on Wednesday, June 21, appointed the members of the newly created Commission on Institutional Change, whose focus will be an examination of the impact of white supremacy on Unitarian Universalism.
The commission has been created in response to the hiring practices controvery at the UUA. Interim Co-President Sofía Betancourt was charged with developing the commission when she was appointed by the Board of Trustees April 10.
The board appointed six commissioners:
- The Rev. Leslie Takahashi, lead minister at Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church in Walnut Creek, California, and co-author, with Chip Roush and Leon Spencer, of The Arc of The Universe is Long: Anti-racism and the Unitarian Universalist Association;
- Caitlin Breedlove, vice president of movement leadership at Auburn Seminary and former campaign director of Standing on the Side of Love;
- Mary Byron, who is retired from Goldman Sachs and is the incoming chair of the UUA Audit Committee;
- The Rev. Natalie Maxwell Fenimore, minister of Lifespan Religious Education at the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, New York, and former president of LREDA;
- DeReau K. Farrar, director of music at First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon, and a board member of the UU Musicians Network; and
- Elias Ortega-Aponte, assistant professor of Latino/a Religion and Culture at Drew University Theological School, who in 2016 was selected to the Justice Builders Innovators program at the UU Service Committee for his ongoing work with the Dismantling Racism Group of the UU Legislative Ministry of New Jersey.
The board appointed the commission to work for two years, in collaboration with a professional organization capable of conducting an external audit of white privilege and the structure of power within Unitarian Universalism, in order to analyze structural racism and white supremacy within the UUA. Its scope will be broad and far-reaching, with the goal of long-term cultural and institutional change that redeems the essential promise and ideals of Unitarian Universalism, according to the proposal upon which the board voted.
According to the proposal, the commission will establish a truth and reconciliation process “to create a climate of honesty, accountability, and disclosure essential to our learning and multicultural growth as an institution; examine and document critical events and practices at all levels of the association and its member congregations, which reveal areas for redress and truth-telling; set priorities for anti-oppressive practices (including hiring and personnel practices) and institutional change that will advance our progress towards building the Beloved Community; shape practices for recruitment and formation of religious leadership and the expectations placed on religious professionals of color in the transformation of our faith, and report back to the board and General Assembly its learning, recommendations, and guidance for ongoing work.”