Beloved Conversations: Meditations on Race & Ethnicity

By MiJa Thompson and Maida Owens, Beloved Conversations Organizing Team

    As we come to the close of our third Beloved Conversations curriculum here at UCBR, we are grateful to many.  First, to our church community and ministers for making this a priority, with a special thanks to Rev. Nathan Ryan, our mentor, and to Rev. Steve Crump, for always encouraging us all to be our best selves.

    There were 18 participants who committed their time and honest work in pursuit of healing the brokenness of racism and oppression. These 18 will be added to our ever growing Beloved Conversations alumni group of 54 members, making a total of 72 alumni!  This number includes our dynamic facilitator team for this year:  Melanie Mayeux, Leslie Taylor-Grover, Cynthia Bryant, and Suzanne Besse.  Much gratitude.  

    Thanks to Rev Kierstin Homblette, our retreat leader with the Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Theological School, for her leadership and expertise.

    Our efforts were reinforced with the help of Allison Hall, our Office Manager, for not only her clerical work, but the interest and concern she showed.  Also to Leah Hartman, our Music Program Director, for graciously sharing the choir space throughout the 8 weeks of follow up sessions!

    We would also like to acknowledge Kathy Smith, Director of Family Ministry.  Kathy continually made herself available to ensure a successful outcome.

    Last but not least, to the Senior Youth of UCBR, a heartfelt, THANK YOU!  The journals you so beautifully personalized for us were a highlight at the retreat, and has continued to be with the participants as they are called to the deep work of faith formation.

    Once again, thank you all for a powerful, moving experience which lays a strong foundation for work within our church and the larger community.



For 2018, please join us in our third Beloved Conversations series, a UU curriculum that provides a space to re-form/fuse the brokenness of racism and oppression into new patterns of thought and behavior ushering in social and spiritual healing.  The series starts with a weekend retreat on the evening of Friday, February 23, 6-9pm and continues on Saturday, February 24, 9am-6pm. Reverend Kierstin Homblette Allen with the Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Theological School--where Rev Steve and Rev Nathan were trained--will lead the retreat.  She will then speak at the Sunday morning services.  Following the retreat is a series of eight sessions that go deeper.  Each of the eight week sessions takes two hours to complete, and is highly structured in order to push and support the learning of the assembled community.  

Deep Check-in: Making Sense of the Retreat; The Invisible Footprint of Racial/Ethnic History
Exploring Our Dynamic of Racism and Privilege
Racism Today: Micro-Aggressions
Interrupting Racism
Community Audit: The Experience of Race & Ethnicity in your community
Power & Process: How Institutional Change Happens in our Congregations
Prophetic Vision: Towards a Multicultural Congregation in Solidarity with the World
Building the Bridge Between Our Present and Our Future  


In 2016, Guest Speaker Dr. Mark A. Hicks presented a weekend seminar Friday evening and Saturday, August 12 and 13, 2016.  We were led to challenge our assumptions and learn new ways of conversing with people of  races and religions different from our own.  Later,  we took part in eight sessions of deeper spiritual exploration in small groups.