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  • Writer's pictureJoe Cherry

Widening the Circle

At a gathering convened by UUA co-presidents Rev. Sofia Betancourt, Rev. William Sinkford, and Dr. Leon Spencer in Atlanta in 2017, UU leaders of color were asked to share their insights into how the Association could continue moving forward in the midst of another racially charged moment.”

This is the preface of a UUA publication called “Widening the Circle of Concern, published in 2020. This study, the first one by the Commission on Institutional Change, is helping us take a hard look at our Unitarian Universalist faith, our history and our present moment. The report, in its entirety, has been published by the UUA, and it’s an interesting read, it was for me. It challenged a lot of what I thought I knew, about the way I often thought about things and made me question my own role and position within Unitarian Universalism.

Our theological theme for the month of February is Widening the Circle. And it makes me ask the question, how big is our circle? Who is within it? Who is on the margins of it, and who exists outside of our circle entirely?

As a Unitarian Universalist Congregation, we are in a covenant with the other 1,100 congregations. We are both independent and in a covenant. We are not compelled to be in covenant with the other UU congregations, and some Unitarian, Universalist and UU congregations exist outside of our covenant. UUF has chosen to be a member of the covenant, which binds us to greater Unitarian Universalism.

I ask again, how big is our circle? How big would we like our circle to be? What’s stopping us from having the most expansive, welcoming, inclusive congregation? These are questions that we need to be asking ourselves.

These questions can be big and scary and I’m here to help. I’m here to hold open the space when we’re nervous, to meet you in your tender places in complete non-judgement. I want to help you ask yourselves: what would it be like to be more?

As we walk our way through February, asking ourselves how we widen our circle of concern, I encourage you to be brave, bold, vulnerable and full of grace to each other and yourselves. It’s time we start thinking about why we are here, and what our place in this grand world could be.

Your minister,

Rev. Joe

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Rev. Joe Cherry

Rev. Joe is a biracial, gay, Unitarian Universalist minister, and history nerd. He lives in North Easton, Massachusetts, with his husband, Rev. Denis Paul, and their dog, Toulouse.

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