“The Promise and the Practice of our Faith for Black Lives
of Unitarian Universalism” 

Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains
Grass Valley, CA
February 25, 2018

Note: This service was offered in support of an association wide effort to support Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU). BLUU was formed in the wake of several conversations among Black UUs at the July 2015 Movement for Black Lives Convening in Cleveland, OH. The BLUU Organizing Collective works to provide support, information, and resources for Black Unitarian Universalists. They also work to expand the role and visibility of Black UUs within our faith. 



 Here, we offer not a “sermon” per se, but links to the pieces that we utilized in order to center the voices of Black Unitarian Universalists.

^ Songs for Gathering

#95 There’s a River Flowin‘ in My Soul by Faya Ora Rose Touré

#153 Oh, I Woke Up this Morning, an African American spiritual from the time of slavery.

Welcome    (From Promise and Practice materials)

Rev. Kevin Tarsa and Wendy Wernigg, worship associate

Good morning and welcome!

“Our worship service this morning is uniquely prophetic: it calls to us who identify as white to listen, humbly and perhaps with some discomfort, to the lived reality of black Unitarian Universalists in our midst. This discomfort is both a gesture of hospitality to voices that have not been heard enough, and a sign that we have a chance to grow.

“If you’re joining us today as a guest, know that you are witnessing this Unitarian Universalist congregation doing sacred work:

collectively, we will wrestle with what it means to be a majority-white faith whose anti-racist intentions have not always been borne out. We invite you to witness this moment of transparency and vision.”

“We who are Unitarian Universalists often choose to make ourselves uncomfortable in the service of our meaning-making. We recognize our discomfort as evidence that we’re growing. Today, if you feel discomfort arise within you – especially if you’re white – we invite you to practice being curious, and to allow your discomfort to lead you to new learning.”

The words and the music we offer this morning center the voices of black Unitarian Universalists. I am so glad you have chosen to be here with us today. I invite you enter our time together with an open heart and mind:

Welcome to the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains.

Opening Words  by Viola Abbitt  https://www.uua.org/worship/words/invocation/promise-and-practice-call-worship

Lighting of the Chalice by Rebekah Savage   Wendy Wernigg https://www.uua.org/worship/words/chalice-lighting/promise-and-practice-chalice-lighting-1

Time for All Ages  The Golden Chain: An Ife Creation Story by Erica Shadowsong https://www.uua.org/worship/words/time-all-ages/promise-and-practice-story-all-ages

Singing the Children on Their Way (There’s a River Flowing in my Soul)

Pebbles of Joys & Sorrow 

Meditation/Prayer    Let Us Have the Wisdom by Viola Abbitt  https://www.uua.org/worship/words/prayer/promise-and-practice-pastoral-prayer-2

Song   #1040 Hush

Reading  Words Matter by Carol Thomas Cissel  https://www.uua.org/worship/words/reading/promise-and-practice-words-matter-reading

Music  – I Been in the Storm So Long https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIGPUlkLWlg


Tired of Being Silent by Rayla D. Mattson https://www.uua.org/worship/words/homily/promise-and-practice-tired-being-silent-reflection

Song   Hush 

A Parable on Privilege by DeReau K. Farrar.  Read and/or watch: https://www.uua.org/worship/words/homily/promise-and-practice-parable-privilege-reflection

Song   Hush

Call to the Offering     Rev. Kevin and Wendy

Excerpted from https://uuacdn.s3.amazonaws.com/videos/bluu-funding-appeal.mp4, words of Lena K. Gardner, executive director of BLUU, and UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray

Every day in our world, people are feeling vulnerable, frightened, and heartbroken. For those who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color, the effects of racism and oppression are an everyday lived reality — and these feelings are not new.

For others, this can be a time of hard awakening to the realities that have existed for a long time, and to new and heightened racial violence and policies targeting the most vulnerable. For all of us, the call of this moment is real. And as Unitarian Universalists we are invited and challenged everyday to live more deeply into our faith.

And every day, our people, our congregations  — you — are responding to that invitation. We are learning to live with a vision of the Beloved Community in the face of white supremacy and fear. We are learning to confront these things in our own hearts, lives and congregations.

If we as UUs are going to be ready to meet the challenge, and accept our invitation to build a new way, we must do it together. We know that, as June Jordan said, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism is one of the most exciting ways our faith is answering this call.

As a national ministry for and by black-identified Unitarian Universalists, BLUU embodies a liberating community of all ages. A community that lifts up the lives, and stories and the leadership of those who have been marginalized and silenced. A community that brings hope, when hope is hard to find. And a community that calls us to wrestle with the gap between our theology and our practice in the world.

Today, we are asking you to join us in fulfilling this promise.

The Unitarian Universalist Association has set aside one million dollars from its endowment.

Two very generous Unitarian Universalists, Julie and Brad Bradburd, have offered an additional one million dollars to match congregational giving. All of your gifts are needed and appreciated. And, if this congregations reaches the threshold of $10 per member (or however we count the souls we serve), our gift will doubled!

If you believe that our faith must become radically inclusive, justice centered, multiracial and multigenerational, [here is a way] to advance that vision than through your support for BLUU.

The power and promise of Unitarian Universalism is waking up to meet fear and hate with radical imagination, transformative partnership, resilience, and joy.

We make it possible through our commitment and our generosity. Thank you for your support.


^ Closing Hymn     #95 There is More Love, Somewhere (African American spiritual from the time of slavery)

Benediction   by Kimberly Quinn Johnson https://www.uua.org/worship/words/benediction/promise-and-practice-benediction-3