Each month, a member of the board will share a reflection on the Soul Matters monthly theme and the state of the church. The theme for January is Beloved Community. This month’s post is offered by Fred Hulting.
On January 18 I attended the 31st annual Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday breakfast in Minneapolis. I was one of 6,000 people at the virtual event, which is jointly sponsored by the United Negro College Fund and General Mills. A highlight of the event was a moderated Q&A with Bernice King, the CEO of the King Center, and the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. She spoke about Beloved Community and was eloquent and forceful in her calls for equity and justice. As I sit down to write this column, her words are the first thing that comes to mind.
In speaking about beloved community, Bernice King reminded me that it “means including people who believe differently; it is not just a group of like-minded people and it is not without tension.” Getting there is not easy; becoming inclusive requires cultural and social change, but it is “a personal journey first…and so it is spiritual. It follows a love-centered path, where love means implementing the demands of justice. We must have the courage to come out of our silos and seek experiences that transform us.”
Like many of you, I have been working on that personal journey since George Floyd’s murder last summer: asking more questions and seeking the courage to see my own privilege and my contributions to systemic racism. While I have far to go, I have made progress due in large part to the inspiration and the efforts of UUCM members and friends.
Bernice King also calls for us to go beyond our personal journey and to drive social and institutional change. For me, this means joining with others to push UUCM to take bigger steps on its institutional journey to become anti-racist.
This month we are considering such big step: voting as a congregation to make a statement and put up a banner in support of “Black Lives Matter”. This has prompted a series of courageous conversations within our church. Respectful conversations among those who feel this comes five years too late and those who are just realizing what it means and why it is important. Passionate conversations about values and risk and what we want to say to our local community. Humble conversations about the progress that has brought us to this point, and about the distance we still need to travel.
I believe that we all share a goal of being anti-racist, even though we do not all agree on how we do that. Still, I see us approaching this work with a spirit of love, care, and mutual respect; important characteristics for a church seeking to take even bigger steps towards building a beloved community and realizing justice in the broader world.
— Fred Hulting
President, UUCM Board of Trustees