605 Morewood Avenue
I would like to offer a Progress Report with regard to six things I have initiated recently that will help move us forward with our multiracial and multicultural aspirations.
First, I have asked the Board of Trustees for their support for annual anti-racism training for Board members, program staff members, committee leaders, and church members and friends. The Board has enthusiastically agreed to make this a regular part of our church life.
Second, I am putting together a Multicultural Transition Team. The purpose of the Multicultural Transition Team is to coordinate the process through which the multicultural and multiracial aspirations of the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh are fulfilled. Specifically, the Multicultural Transition Team will coordinate our annual anti-racism training, and they will work with several other committees to help develop a common commitment to becoming a more multicultural and multiracial congregation.
Third, I completed a brief analysis of the racial diversity within our staff according to hours worked per week. This analysis appeared in the April 2013 newsletter.
Fourth, I have established a multicultural competency standard as a qualification for new church employees. The multicultural competency standard is the following:
Fifth, I have initiated conversations about multicultural worship conversation within the Sunday Celebrations Committee and among program staff members.
Sixth, I have included considerable multicultural and multiracial material in our new covenant group discussion guides.
Just as background, here is an understanding of multiculturalism used within the Unitarian Universalist Association:
Opposing racism does not mean simply changing individual attitudes. It also means changing institutional structures and practices. This is what I hope I am doing with these six initiatives.
See you in church!
Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker is part-time Asst. Minister, and an affiliated community minister at the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh. In First Unitarian, she coordinates the pastoral care and adult faith development aspects of our ministry, and preaches regularly.
In the community, Rev. Robin is the director of Flowingforce (http://www.flowingforce.com), comprised of two community ministries that offer counseling, education, and mediation services to individuals and couples at all stages of relationship. Radiant Vows focuses on pre-marital and marital education and counseling and weddings. Divorce Without Destruction promotes a fair process and peaceful parting for couples and families.
Rev. Robin received an Masters of Divinity from Harvard and was ordained to the UU ministry in 2000. She served two New England parishes and worked as a professional hospice chaplain prior to launching her community ministries.
She grew up in Pittsburgh and has returned home after 30 plus years in the Boston area where she raised her two children (Sam, 25 and Michaela, 22). She lives (and works) in Regent Square with her rescue dog, Kip, and has been enjoying playing with the First Unitarian Folk Orchestra and volunteering at the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank.
You may contact Rev. Robin at Flowingforce@comcast.net, 412-871-5252
ROBIN’ S BIRD’ S EYE VIEW
Have you noticed how the fortune cookies in Chinese restaurants nowadays provide a bite-sized Berlitz course? A chip off the old Rosetta Stone, as it were? On the flip side of the “fortune” part of the cookie, one can usually find a vocabulary word written out in Chinese characters, in transliteration, and in English. During their formative years, my kids and I enjoyed taking a crack at pronouncing the word in Chinese (using the transliteration) and then we’d all try to guess the definition. (Yes, we sounded ridiculous, but it became a family ritual).
After one memorable dinner at Chang An, our local eatery, my then-adolescent son, Sam, cracked open his cookie, flipped his fortune, and proclaimed, “You- You,” trying to sound as Chinese as possible. “UU?” I asked. “Well, that’s easy – it means a religious liberal who promotes freedom, reason and tolerance.” Everyone but Sam chuckled. “No,” he responded, “youuuu-youuuu.” “UU?” I inquired again, even more mischievously, “as in, a person who searches for spiritual truth and meaning in a framework with flexible boundaries?”
At this point, Sam is experiencing the annoying downside of being a PK (preacher’s kid). “No, Mom,” he replied, exasperated. “YOU-YOU! It means squid in Chinese. Squid, Mom! (envision eye rolling here). Because we couldn’t help ourselves, members of our family spent the next several weeks referring to Unitarian Universalism as the squid religion with all the requisite lame puns about how some folks don’t grasp the tentacles of our free faith.
All joking aside, it can truly be difficult to know how to respond when we experience unfair attacks, and encounter inaccurate stereotypes and misconceptions about our progressive religion. Many of us know all too well the queasy feeling that arises when we hear the snide question, “Oh, aren’t you those people who don’t believe in anything?” They might as well say, “Aren’t you the folks who worship squid?”
There are various ways to articulate our faith calmly, but assertively, that not only inform others, but which also gives each of us a chance to strengthen our own self-definitions as UUs. I’ll share some tips in future newsletters on “elevator speeches” when others ask you to describe our uncommon denomination. Give it a try on your own…you have 20 floors (and no more than 100 words) in an elevator to define Unitarian Universalism….I’d love to see your results!!
Some great resource materials can be found in the brochures available at the Welcome Table and on the tables on either side of the Sanctuary. The uua.org website is a treasure trove. And, starting in the Fall, the Adult Faith Development committee will offer classes and workshops designed to help you deepen your UU identity and your skills in living and articulating your faith. If you’ve attended a Membership orientation or you have been around awhile and want to go further on your journey, these classes will be for you!
For now, I’m out of space and need to run. There’s take-out waiting for me at the local Chinese place. I ordered what the Zuckers came to call UU youuuuyouuuuu – many-flavored calamari.
In faith, Rev. Robin
Saving the World, in Five Hours a Week
Today I am reviewing a sermon written by Neal Anderson, the minister at the UU church in Reno, Nevada. It's entitled, “Got Transformation?” In it, he compares spiritual growth to a caterpillar working its way into a chrysalis, and ultimately to take flight. I look back to my arrival here at First Unitarian, and reflect back on my own journey of transformation, and how it compares to the transformation of this congregation. People keep telling me they see change in me. People keep telling me they are experiencing changes in this congregation. Both for the good. Feedback like that, in conversation as part of a community, is how we determine our self-identity. That is part of our third principle – “Encouragement toward spiritual growth in our congregations.” And sometimes a good mirror is hard to find. It has to be a mirror that operates on more than one wavelength.
I'm hoping that when a butterfly gets its wings, it has sufficiently mitigated its inner war with itself. I believe we all have a conflict going on inside between competing energies and desires, and the ambivalence keeps us from flying. There. are competing energies in this and other congregations. There are competing energies in our Unitarian Universalist movement. And of course, there are competing energies in the world, sufficiently divergent to thwart our “Goal of World Community” we name in our sixth principle. When the discourse is in full swing, and we are careful to clarify our communication so we are not talking past each other – in other words, our very frames-of-reference are so different that we hear others' words in a very different context – then we're holding up a mirror.
Many people have said they'll miss me when I go. Thank you for saying that. I definitely will miss you all, and to be true, I feel our time together has been transformational. And I am grateful to have played whatever small part I could for the congregation's change, and very grateful for the gifts you have given me toward my own growth. Today's the submission deadline for the Chalice, and I'm off to a meeting for now – and will send more next month. :)