Encounters: poetry about race and identity

Looking for a book that will launch discussions about race and ethnicity and provide insights into how we regard ourselves and how we react to others who are not like us?

Skinner House has just published Encounters, a book of poems “about race, ethnicity and identity.” Around 80 poems, mostly by contemporary poets, have been compiled by Paula Cole Jones. Jones is the founder of ADORE (A Dialogue on Race and Ethnicity), a former president of DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries), a consultant in multicultural competencies and institutional change, and Racial and Social Justice director for the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Joseph Priestley District.

The book, published by Skinner House, is $14 and is available from the UUA Bookstore. Jones says poems from Encounters will be useful for Sunday morning readings, discussion topics for religious educators, and as springboards for small group ministry and youth group discussions, as well as being helpful to individuals seeking to further their own knowledge around identity and understand more about people who may not be like them.

Encounters is full of stories about, well, encounters––the black man puzzled by a friendly greeting from a white teen with dreadlocks and a Confederate flag tattoo––the Japanese girl who wanted to look Caucasian––the white woman and black man eyeing each other on the subway.

“Encounters can help people become aware of stories beyond their own,” says Jones. “We tend not to know the intimate experiences of other people. These poets help us know what no one person can know. We encounter people, and sometimes we have very little knowledge of the depth and the kind of searing wounding that racialized society has done since its beginning. It helps us see what we’re up against if we’re going to heal ourselves. And heal the world.”

Congregationally focused articles from uuworld.org, Oct. 2010–Jan. 2011

InterConnections is not the only source of useful information for lay leaders. Check out uuworld.org for articles about UUA changes and congregational activities. Here are some recent ones:

Ann Arbor congregation uses wind power (alternative energy) 1.10.11

UU legislative ministries now in 15 states 1.3.11

UUA plans 50th anniversary celebration (at GA 2011 in Charlotte, N.C.) 12.27.10

New LGBT coordinator will emphasize trans issues 12.20.10

Unitarian Universalists honor transgender deaths 12.6.10

Board approves two-year project to shape UUA’s vision (Will invite congregations to use Appreciative Inquiry to develop ‘shared vision for denomination’s future.) 11.29.10

Offering a room to asylum seekers (Members of two N.J. UU congregations host political asylum seekers as part of interfaith group.) 11.15.10

UUs share their own immigration stories 11.8.10

UUA launches Leap of Faith program (Growth program sets up mentoring relationships for twelve UU congregations; Association Sunday gifts provide funding.) 11.1.10

89 UU congregations join Global Day of Action (UUs promote environmental stewardship with ’10-10-10′ events.
) 10.18.10

UU ministers speak out in support of gay teens (confronting bullying) 10.18.10

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UUA video series growing

There are now 13 videos in the UUA series “A Religion for Our Time,” on UUA.org.

The most recent one highlights First Parish in Cambridge, Mass., and its first called Latina minister, the Rev. Lilia Cuervo. The video describes how the congregation is working toward becoming a multiracial and multicultural congregation so that it more fully reflects the diversity in its surrounding community.

Each of the 13 videos is available on the website. Each has a different focus, from multiculturalism to young adult worship or construction of a building. The videos are meant to celebrate the work of these congregations and to inspire other congregations.

CLF resources for small congregations

Lay-led congregations seeking to stretch their budgets might consider a group membership in the Church of the Larger Fellowship’s Church OnLine program.

For an annual fee of $299 a congregation can access worship and religious education resources online. Congregations may enroll at any time.

Worship resources include sermons and a children’s story and suggested discussion questions. RE resources include RE Express Plus, a special program for small RE programs.

CLF also has an email list, CLF Starting Small, for leaders of small congregations. More information is available on the CLF website.