Widening the Circle of Concern Task Force of the UUCB Board of Trustees
In a three month period—from March through June of 2017, a cascade of events thundered through the Unitarian Universalist Association, shaking up the leadership structure, galvanizing UU congregants, religious educators and ministers. At issue were concerns regarding a pattern of hiring white people over people of color for leadership positions and a history of racist and white supremacist incidents.
Various groups within UUA, including the Liberal Religious Educators Association, Black Lives of UU, Diverse and Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries, along with white UUs, including Allies for Racial Equity, joined together in solidarity to call for change.
In the words of the great John Lewis, good and necessary trouble had once again come to Unitarian Universalism.
UUA subsequently formed the Commission on Institutional Change in June 2017. Its charge was to investigate white supremacy in UU spaces and to establish a truth and reconciliation process. After three years of interviews, surveys, focus groups and submitted testimony with over 1000 UU participants, the Commission compiled the data into the document, Widening the Circle of Concern, which was highlighted at the 2020 General Assembly. (The link to the print-friendly and audio version of the report is footnoted below, along with a video from the General Assembly. A link for purchase of the report from the UUA Bookstore is also below.)
While the majority of recommendations and action items listed in the document pertain to the national organization, the report contains many ideas and items which are applicable to individual congregations. UUA has urged all congregations to read, process and consider implementation of the report’s suggested actions.
This work is crucial for our congregation to do, and UUCB has decided to enter into this work.
This summer, the UUCB Board of Trustees approved the formation of The Widening the Circle of Concern Task Force (WTCOC), the goals of which are:
- to read and analyze Widening the Circle of Concern
- and, based on our analyses, to make specific recommendations to the Board and congregation that align with the Commission’s charge to support “long-term cultural and institutional change that redeems the essential promise and ideals of Unitarian Universalism.”
- and, as we keep ourselves accountable to the Commission’s urging that anti-oppression work is a theological mandate, it is also our duty to keep our Unitarian Universalist Association accountable. We are in a reciprocal relationship.
The Task Force, whose members represent a variety of UUCB programs, is composed of Rev. Michelle Collins, Suzette Anderson-Duggan, Susan Blair, Victoria Bowen (co-facilitator), Lynne Henderson, Albert Kueffner, Elaine Miller, Lonnie Moseley, Melissa Rosales, Cordell Sloan, and Helen Tinsley-Jones (co-facilitator).
We meet at two to three week intervals and, to date, have met six times. Our process is to read through the report, chapter by chapter, followed by in depth discussions. We are compiling a list of overarching principles and specific recommendations which will be presented in their entirety to the Board and congregation on completion of our work.
Because we are contracted to be a covenantal group and maintain confidentiality as we develop trust and go deeply into this challenging work, we are not open to new members. The Task Force, however, welcomes and encourages comments and questions from the congregation. Please contact:
Victoria Bowen, firstname.lastname@example.org or
Helen Tinsley-Jones, email@example.com
“Acknowledgment of anti-oppression work as a theological mandate is essential.”
“Congregations that choose to engage to increase equity, inclusion, and diversity are leading the way into the future.”
 York, J., McDonald, C., Johnson J. M., “Commission on Institutional Change’s final report is a critical waypoint, not the end of the journey.” UU World, Fall, 2020, Vol. XXXIV, No. 3, p. 55.