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Complete Congregation

Posted by Carey McDonald // January 22nd 2014 // 30 Days of Love // no comments

DAY 5: Building Multicultural Congregations –


My generation is the most diverse in American history, yet still we struggle with the legacies of racism, segregation and injustice that we have inherited from our ancestors. Fewer and fewer schools, businesses and neighborhoods are all-white, but racial disparities in wealth, education and jobs are as strong as they’ve ever been in the last 50 years. That means that if we want to change the reality we see it will require a new kind of cross-community coalition building, and religious spaces will be key in launching it.


Church can and should be a place where we learn what it feels like to open ourselves up to different experiences and practice building faithful relationships with those who are not like us. Creating the beloved community within our congregational walls may be elusive since, to paraphrase Dr. King, Sunday morning still holds the most segregated hour of the week, but the effort is absolutely necessary if we want to create the beloved community in the broader world. In church we discover the inner strength and collective wisdom that can propel us forward toward the sacred aspiration of peace, liberty and justice for all.

Reverend Carol Thomas Cissel, Resident Minister at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma calls upon us to “lean in” to Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of a multicultural society in her post for the 30 Days of Love Campaign on Standing on the Side of Love:

Ours is a multicultural society – the history and cultural myth of the United States is tightly bound to immigration – but ours is also a society with a history of racial injustice. Paradoxically, seems the success of our society which is the result of the intermixing of cultures and races and practices and customs gives rise to the greatest shame of our society – the tradition of discrimination and marginalization and intolerance and disrespect of those who are different from “us”.

Dr. Martin Luther King saw a world where what makes all people the same – love – brings  “us” and “them” together.His vision was of a world where difference is not an epithet but a celebration. Reverend Carol Thomas Cissel reminds us that once seen a vision must be acted upon to become real, and Unitarian Universalists are acting: check out this podcast about All Souls Unitiarian Universalist in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Learn from the resources and leaders involved with Mosaic Makers.

Sure, leaning in to the dream can seem hard at first – we are going against a lot of history – but once you start leaning it becomes easy. Read, “Keep Talking, Start Doing: Ten Ways to Deepen Your Congregation’s Multiculturalism Journey” for ideas on how to lean together. And don’t stop there, take it to the streets. The reality is we live in a multicultural world. Let’s live like it.

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About the Author

Carey is the Chief Operating Officer for the UUA.
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