A curriculum for exploring the role of race/ethnicity in individual and congregational lives

Racism is as old as history itself, and as such, needs intentional spaces to reverse its damaging impact. Using a small-group ministry format, the curriculum creates a supportive space for congregants to talk about their own experiences, while identifying places where growth is necessary. As an instrument of faith formation, it offers participants a chance to rediscover the sacred and important presence of compassion, grace, risk-taking, vulnerability, and the healing joy when cross-racial relationships are reconciled. In addition, the curriculum’s third edition (2017) offers real-time faith formation resources explicitly for people of color, as well as organizational support for making institutional change. Beloved Conversations recognizes how centuries of racially informed social, emotional and spiritual practices wound every person, no matter their racial and/or ethnic identity. Nested in the healing and deep work of faith formation, the curriculum calls each participant to reckon with how both their personal and group experiences matter and, when less-than-desirable outcomes are named, how to live and act in a spirit of reconciliation that brings growth and spiritual healing.

The program begins with a 1.5-day Opening Retreat (Friday, Nov 30 – Saturday Dec. 1 at the UU Fellowship of Huntington) that launches the curriculum, followed by eight weeks of guided experiential exercises. After the retreat, the full group will be divided into three small groups to meet at different locations across the island (west, mid-island, east—exact dates and locations to be determined by participants). Participants must attend the retreat plus the following eight sessions. Each of those sessions takes two hours to complete and is highly structured in order to push and support the learning of the assembled community. The retreat is facilitated by a Fahs Collaborative staff person and the following eight sessions are facilitated by a two-person facilitation team chosen by the cluster. The work is done in small groups of 10-12 participants. The teaching and learning materials are based on the best practices of multicultural and arts-infused education, using a variety of teaching strategies that promote leaning across style, demographics, preferences, and dispositions. Each session poses evocative questions that help learners reconcile their experiences with race/ethnicity in their lives alongside the larger cultural systems that shape their perspective. The final three sessions of the curriculum lead participants in re-tuning their heads and hearts for the ongoing challenge of being accountable, responsive, and resilient learners in multicultural contexts.

Rev. Linda Anderson