It has been a busy time for our church this fall. We have enjoyed brilliant fall days and a warm Indian summer. Our church has welcomed our new Intern Minister Lara Fuchs in with open arms. With the broadcast of the PBS film “The Sharps War: Defying the Nazis” many in our wider community have commented on how much they admire Unitarian Universalists for their stand on justice. I have found this especially heartwarming when I hear this from our Jewish friends, many of whom had no idea of our role in saving lives during the Holocaust. We have also just presented a powerful Inter-faith lecture and community conversation with Harvard Scholar Dr. Diana Eck on Pluralism.
There has been a great deal of energy and conversation about our Black Lives Matter Banner. I have explained my reasons for dedicating and erecting that banner in other missives. In short, I took this action because I felt we needed to take this stand, so commensurate with our faith, at a critical inflection point in time. In the midst of strident political rhetoric demonizing minorities, I thought it vital to express our faith to our wider community. Since then I and others have had important conversations about what this banner really means and valuing black and brown lives as much as we do the white majority. I reiterate that the banner is not a mutually exclusive message; it does not mean that black lives matter more than other lives, it means simply what it says, that black lives matter as much as other lives. I have also explained how this banner does not imply that I or we, as a congregation, accept all the other stances that are associated with the movement. Just like the Civil Right Movement a generation before, there are many interpretations of what this phrase means.
I realize that I took this action without a wider conversation with the Board of Trusteeds or the congregation. The Board and I realize that this is a “teaching moment” and we have agreed that I will be more intentional about future proclamations. I am sure we will have much to share and discuss about this and other issues as we move forward as a congregation. I am happy to report that plans are underway for a series of community wide conversations on race organized by Team Westport, our local diversity committee. We will be a part of this ongoing conversation. We are also continuing with plans to partner with a Bridgeport African American church in the near future.
As we enter the month of Thanksgiving, I hope we will pause and give thanks for the abundance and privilege we do have and reflect on how we might use that privilege to help others in need both here and afar. I wish you and yours all the very best. I am honored to serve among you.