In late summer, UUCC’s Board created a Trust & Reconciliation Committee. Committee members include Laurie Alderman, Jill Christianson, Liam Estell, Suzi Gerb, Alice Pham, Becky Reese, and Phil Webster. Laurie Coltri chairs the committee, and Jim Johnston is our liaison with the Board.
The committee was convened in response to congregational difficulties that UUCC has experienced over the past several years. These problems have been most obvious during conversations about racism and other oppressions. Some conversations have become heated and painful (you may have noticed this in social media settings), with our leadership sometimes intervening to ask that conversations stop. People have reported feeling hurt, unheard, ignored, even shamed or humiliated. By the way, these kinds of difficulties are not limited to UUCC—similar problems are happening all over—in churches, community organizations, schools, and businesses.
The Board summarizes the committee’s purpose as:
To explore ways UUCC congregants can manage conflicts most constructively and to recommend ways forward to strengthen trust and deepen mutual understanding so that we can more fully promote our congregation’s mission, vision, ends, and covenant, consistent with UU principles and our nature as a religious community.
We see our charge as promoting UUCC’s basic mission to create and sustain a safe, nurturing, and welcoming spiritual community.
In the first phase of the committee’s work, it’s vital that we hear from YOU – if you have felt impacted by these troubles, or are concerned about how to make things better.
The aim is to offer you sacred space, unimpeded, to share your voice in one-on-one listening sessions. The listener will not judge, criticize, offer opinions, or try to persuade. The purpose is to listen deeply to you. The listening process is designed to embody our UU 1st Principle, seeking to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of all who participate. What the committee learns from this process will help it to diagnose the overall situation, and create recommendations.
A special word about confidentiality: the committee will publish a written document to the Board of Trustees, which may choose to publish it in some form to the congregation. Information from listening sessions will be used only in aggregate and not associated with individuals, and every effort will be made to de-identify what you say. In addition, you will be asked at the end of the listening session whether there is anything specific that you wish not to be shared.
One-on-one listening sessions will be offered starting in the latter part of November and extending throughout December, so please be on the lookout for messages from the Committee about how to participate. Given the need for distancing, these sessions will likely be online using videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom.
Please be on the lookout for other communications from the committee, and other opportunities to be involved.
Please contact the committee at email@example.com if you’re interested, or want to know more.
I appreciate how challenging this past year has been for everyone. For me personally, this listening-only forum may provide some additional clarity and renewed enthusiasm as we move forward.