2019/20 Issue Number 1

August 2019

In This Issue...

  1. August Notes
  2. Welcome New VP
  3. LREDA Fall Conference
  4. UU-UNO
  5. News from our Friends
    1. Skinner House Books

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Creating a world guided by love, justice, and equity 

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Advancing the field of Unitarian Universalist faith development
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Email: board(at)lreda.org

President Linnea Nelson

Vice President Samaya Oakley

Treasurer Juliet Donaldson

Secretary Christina Rivera

Continental Events Eleanor VanDeusen

Good Offices Jules Jaramillo

Leadership Development Lisa Maria A. Steinberg

President Elect Aisha Hauser


Administrator Kari Kopnick kkopnick(at)lreda.org

Conference Planner Bea Ann Phillips

Bookkeeper Elizabeth Weber

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August Notes from the President

Linnea Nelson

As I began my one-year tenure as the president of LREDA, I wondered if there would be a specific challenge for the year. I only had to wait 48 hours from Professional Day to realize that our work would continue to be around white supremacy culture, this time as backlash to a book that was distributed at GA that showed us what white fragility looks like and how it can do harm. 

The ideas in the book may be sparking conversation in your own congregation that is encouraging some to think that there is no room for previously centered voices in Unitarian Universalism. When you hear that “Everything is too PC,” you may be hearing from those who are feeling disenfranchised. As Christina Rivera, LREDA Board Secretary notes: “There is a place, it’s just a different place.” 

You might also hear the pain in these voices as the challenge of being a “good person” and “having done a lot of work on behalf of civil rights over the past decades” has led to finding past prominent voices and ideas to be less relevant in Unitarian Universalism today. Many people seem to have not realized that what they were working for all these years is actually taking fruition in decentering white supremacy culture. This fact is catching many by surprise. 

Unitarian Universalism is a dynamic religion: one that has the capacity to move into a more equitable and just faith; one that respects the worth and dignity of every single person; and values democracy. Yes, this does mean that those who were once centered are moving out of the way for more voices to be heard. Valuing “every person’s worth and dignity” cannot happen without this movement, this decentering of whiteness. 

We recognize that a backlash against decentering whiteness will be the most challenging and dangerous for those who are less empowered due to role or position within the church or by their sex, gender, race, outspokenness, or  the way they live out their faith. Religious educators, and especially religious educators of color, and our families of color need support. Your LREDA board is working in collaboration with other UU leaders to bring you tools to support your work in the congregation around the issues that arise when white supremacy culture is challenged.  Please reach out to those in your clusters and in your congregations that may be at risk and let them know you are holding them in love.

For now, these books are all on my reading list and probably on many of yours. I invite you to add any that are unfamiliar to your “read now” list:

  • Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusion and Community by Larry Yang.
  • Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticity, and Power in Ministry, edited by Mitra Rahnema, which contains essays describing, in their own words, the lived experiences of religious professionals of color in Unitarian Universalism.
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. Groundbreaking book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when discussing racism that serve to protect their positions and maintain racial inequality.

Please watch for more tools this fall. Your suggestions of what you need, as well as what tools would be most helpful are welcome at [email protected]

In Faith,

Linnea Nelson

Welcome Vice President Samaya Oakley

With Annie Scott's resignation (see LREDA news) as President and Linnea Nelson's appointment as President we were looking for a Vice President. And we hit the jackpot when Samaya Oakley said Yes! We're delighted to welcome her to the Board.

Samaya Oakley

Here is a bit about Samaya:

The Rev. Samaya Oakley serves as the Minister for the South Fraser Unitarian Congregation. After attending the North Shore Unitarian Church, she quickly became active continentally though the Youth Office of the UUA.

Samaya became a trainer for the Leadership Development and Spirituality Development modules. She was also a facilitator and part of the Training of Trainers for the Advisor Trainings and Advanced Advisor Trainings. She also is a facilitator for all levels of the Our Whole Lives program, and a trainer for the Elementary and Youth trainings.

She became a part of the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Reflection Guides – five age-appropriate reflection guides for use in Canadian UU congregations. The reflection guides are focused on how the Indian Residential School system, colonization, and systemic racism have impacted the Indigenous peoples of Canada.

She has recently completed three years as President of the UU Ministers of Canada, a chapter of the UUMA and currently sits on the Eliot Institute Board of Trustees.

LREDA Fall Conference Nov 8-10, 2019

Theologies of Suffering and Wholeness: Companions in Liberation
a poster with a grey background, the title of LREDA's fall conference, and portrait photos of the four presenters named below.

  • Odyssey Presenter, Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, President of Starr King School for the Ministry
  • Dr. Elias Ortega-Aponte, President of Meadville Lombard Theological School
  • Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt, Assistant Professor of UU Theologies and Ethics at Starr King School for the Ministry
  • Jennifer Hayman, Music Leader, Director of Music and Arts, All Souls Unitarian, Washington, DC

At our 2019 fall conference, we will explore a Unitarian Universalist Theology of Suffering and learn to better understand and embrace our Universalist Theology of Wholeness. The conference will balance going deep into these theologies while also providing concrete tools and skills for religious professionals to use when we encounter suffering and work for collective liberation.

Nov. 7: Pre-conference day including gatherings -

  • Religious Educators of Color Gathering - to suggest topics of conversation, to offer worship leadership, or to help organize this event, please contact Marisol Caballero.
  • LREDA Large and LREDA Small Gatherings

Nov. 8-10: LREDA Fall Conference –

  • sessions with our featured presenters; workshops led by LREDA colleagues;
  • embodied worship & spiritual practices; and
  • opportunities for fellowship with colleagues

Nov. 10-12: Renaissance Modules:

  •  Multicultural and Worship Ren Modules

Other Conference highlights include –

  • New & Newer Religious Educator Training,
  • Local outings, and
  • Hands-on Justice Making.

The LREDA Fall Con Planning Team
Lily Rappaport, Eleanor VanDeusen, Katherine Childs, Erica Shadowsong, Sheila Shuh, Kathy Smith, Jenn Blosser

UU-UNO is looking for YaYA Leaders

UU-UNO The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office is accepting applications for youth and adult leaders for their 2020 Intergenerational Spring Seminar which will address the theme of climate justice and take place in New York City April 15-18, 2020.

The Seminar equips participants with the information and skills to take action locally for global justice issues through worship, workshops, small group work, and a visit to the UN Headquarters!

Youth and Adult Chaplains (serve as a listening ear and supportive presence during the event): apply by September 8.

Youth & Adult members of the Planning Committee (create programs and arrange logistics and outreach): apply by September 8.

Learn more and apply at www.uua.org/unspringseminar.


News from Our Friends

Skinner House Books

Book cover Mistakes and MiraclesWhat calls Unitarian Universalists to create multicultural, antiracist Beloved Community? What do congregations need when they embark on this journey? What common threads run through their stories? Nancy Palmer Jones and Karin Lin—a white minister and a lay person of color—share how five diverse congregations encounter frustrations and disappointments, as well as hope and wonder, once they commit to the journey. Mistakes abound. Miracles of transformation and joy emerge too. Extensively researched and thoughtfully written—with reflection questions at the end of each chapter—Mistakes and Miracles: Congregations on the Road to Multiculturalism will guide readers to apply these stories to their own communities, develop next steps, and renew their commitment to this hard but meaningful work.

"Karin Lin and Nancy Palmer Jones have chosen to risk being vulnerable with their respective stories and with those of others who have entrusted their stories to these courageous authors. They have taken a keen look at tumultuous challenges and difficult choices. Thankfully, they have chosen to center relationship as core to their work and ministry. They invite us to listen deeply and listen deeper still. The stories that they lift up are real, raw, and revealing. They invite us to face them without flinching and without denying the truth that we are invited to be privy to.

This volume invites us to notice when and how we lift up the voices of diverse populations of people and our partnerships with them as we, with intention, break down our congregational walls to create robust, vibrant community centers. And there's more. We need to make room among ourselves to step back, ensuring venues for our partners to speak to us, knowing that their voices must be heard by us.

Karin Lin and Nancy Palmer Jones are helping us to develop our antiracist, antioppressive, and multicultural habits and skills in order to prepare us to do our part to collectively nurture multiculturally competent, actively antiracist congregations into being. They are memorializing the kinds of moments that form our identity, our history, and our vision for the future. For this, I give thanks."
-—Janice Marie Johnson, Co-Director, Ministries and Faith Development, Unitarian Universalist Association