This is my response to the fourth and fifth open-ended questions in the survey provided by my congregation's Ministerial Search Committee. The first response and the background behind these survey questions can be found here.
What qualities (professional skills/expertise and personal) should our next minister possess? What is your profile of our hoped-for minister?
I would like to see a minister that reflects what is best in current Unitarian Universalist social justice thought. To call a minister like that, we will have to accept that she will be more like “Boston,” “San Francisco,” or “Starr King Seminary” and certainly not representative of Shreveport’s popular or political culture.
Given the rampant racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, etc already present in our town, we need a minister that causes us to question the norms, the “structural oppression,” and other non-intentional evils in Shreveport.
What achievements will make you say, “I’m glad the minister is among us?”
I would be glad to have any minister among us who can get widespread congregational acceptance of the importance of anti-oppression work in our congregation.
Anti-oppression work is spiritual work and is rooted in Unitarian Universalist principles, values, and historical tradition. Anti-oppression work represents Unitarian Universalists' commitment to living our principles and purposes.
Our goal of making our congregation anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multicultural, and inclusive demonstrates our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all people. Applying anti-racism and other anti-oppression lenses (e.g. “Welcoming Congregation”) to our structures and standard operating procedures is practicing our responsible search for truth and meaning.
Involving and engaging marginalized communities in our decision-making, and following the leadership of those communities, deepens our commitment to the democratic process, enables us to exercise justice, compassion and equity at more profound levels of our community, and shows our recognition of the importance of interdependence in creating the beloved community.
Furthermore, anti oppression work is consistent with Unitarian Universalism's heretical tradition. We are challengers and questioners of the status quo. We celebrate our role in the vanguard of liberal religious, social and political movements.
Any minister who can encourage our indifferent board and congregation members along with our conservative naysayers to work together in Welcoming Congregation work, Journey Towards Wholeness anti-racism work, and other UU anti-oppression work social justice work would make me say “I’m glad the minister is among us.”