The Promise and The Practice Worship Service

On April 15th, we will be having a very special worship service titled The Promise and The Practice. The service will be composed entirely of elements – sermon, opening words, closing words, readings, hymns – by Unitarian Universalist people of color. This service will not be addressing white supremacy in our faith through learning, but rather through heart-centered worship.

I hope the service can be a turning moment; a choice to listen deeply to the stories in our movement that have not been heard. And that all of us can take these stories to heart. The service is partly a lamenting of what our Unitarian Universalist tradition and congregations have lost by being unable – or unwilling – to center people of color (or even, at times, merely to include them). The Promise and the Practice is a celebration of our shared commitment to live into a new chapter in the story of our UU faith.

How​ ​is​ ​The​ ​Promise​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Practice​ ​Sunday​ ​different than​ ​the​ ​White​ ​Supremacy​ ​Teach-Ins we have held in worship? Both events seek to draw attention to the presence and patterns of white supremacy in our UU congregations and systems. Both events also ask UUs to halt those patterns – individual as well as collective – as we build a new way together. What’s different about The Promise and the Practice is its intention of creating a soul-deep space of feeling and experiencing the power of this moment in our UU story. These worship materials center the voices and stories of UUs of color, so the entire worship service calls upon the lived experience of religious professionals of color as sacred text.

This service invites white UUs to bear witness to that pain and lament as a place of connection, recognizing all that’s been lost in our tradition. To reinforce the feeling and heart-centered nature of The Promise and The Practice as an opportunity for atonement and re-creation – which is both complex and sacred work – the worship materials include a ritual – an embodied, participatory moment of healing – as a symbolic “turning” from past to future.

Finally, The Promise and The Practice will be grounded in the opportunity for our congregation to align our finances with our theology, and to pledge at least $10 per member to The Promise and the Practice campaign. All gifts are needed, and every gift is appreciated. If our congregation is able to reach the threshold of $10 per member, Black Lives of UU (BLUU) will receive a dollar for dollar match for your contribution from a generous donor. Together with other congregations, we’re striving to fulfill a $1 million match opportunity. Our entire offering on April 15th will be shared with BLUU and I’m hoping we can reach $1200, which would be the amount needed to generate the matching donation.

~Cyndi Simpson