On Oct. 1, I discovered the vandalism of the road sign and theft of the Black Lives Matter flag, contacted the Times Herald Record and wrote a statement and posted it on uucrt.org. That afternoon a story was online and the next day it was in print. John Kinney wrote a press release and several other media outlets picked it up, including WAMC, which ran a story on Oct. 7. The UUCRT leadership hosted a forum on October 8 and Spectrum News covered it with this story. On Oct. 2 uucrt.org site stats reported “best ever” results with 620 unique visits. At the time of this writing, (Oct. 26), uucrt.org had 2,200 views in the month of October. In the whole month of September, uucrt.org had 40 views.
Verne Bell, on behalf of The Black Lives Matter task force, announced in the June Chalice Light that after the almost unanimous congregational vote in May to display the flag on Route 207 “Our work is done. This Task Force is discontinued.” She envisioned that an on-going Anti-Racism Task Force might emerge from the Examining Whiteness study group led by Jamie Capach. I share this hope and vision for an Anti-Racism Task Force, one aligned with Allies for Racial Equity (ARE), which aims to build an anti-racist movement among white Unitarian Universalists in ways that are accountable to communities of color, and Diverse Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUMM). I have recommended the Board move to create a UUCRT History Review Task Force with the goal of rewriting the public history as it appears on uucrt.org to include honest acknowledgement of racism and white supremacy. This History Review Task Force could be one of several tasks taken up by an ongoing task force.
This month we explore mindfulness, which is the work of being in the here and now, paying attention to and responding to the present moment with action in service to our values. What do we see when we look deeply into the present moment? Oct. 31 is “Reformation Day” and this year commemorates 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, igniting the Protestant Reformation. Luther was called before Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, at the Diet of Worms, who confronted him, and he famously responded: “I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me,” popularly remembered as, “Here I stand, so help me God.” Unitarian Universalists trace our heritage back to the Protestant Reformation. We like to identify with Martin Luther King, Jr., yet are often unaware that daddy King visited Germany and then changed his own name to Martin Luther and named his son the same because of the example he saw in the life of the German Christian. I believe mindful attention to the present moment is essential to generate the kind of moral courage Luther and Martin Luther King, Jr., demonstrated with their lives.
The UUCRT has a historic opportunity, perhaps a break through moment, to act in accordance with conscience, to stand firm in the UUA covenant, both for a free and responsible search for truth, and for justice, equity and compassion in human relations. There are risks, yet I believe only when the UUCRT stands firm with the courage of convictions will the UUCRT be a catalyst to transform the culture of Orange County and beyond. I hope you will be present at the congregational meeting this month and participate in this critical moment of conscientious discernment.
See you on Sunday,