Building a Community Where We All Feel Seen

Dear Members and Friends,

How many of you out there have had the experience of being called by the wrong name? 

Probably everyone. 

We’re a large congregation, and there’s many names to put to many faces, so getting a name wrong sometimes is understandable. 

It makes me glad to know that we’re producing a new UUCA picture directory, because it will help us build stronger community. 

If you have not yet signed up, please be sure to do so ASAP.

We will also post names and pictures of staff and board on the social hall wall, like we did at the Cliff Valley building. 

But there is more we need to commit to, to help make the UUCA community feel good to everyone who wishes to belong. 

It’s a commitment to hearing the stories of those who aren’t feeling welcomed and honored. 

If we can hear the stories and tolerate the discomfort, perhaps a way will be cleared for making UUCA a more hospitable community.

Recently I’ve become aware of a hurtful pattern at UUCA: how people of color among us (staff and congregants both) are repeatedly called by the names of other people of color. It feels to them as if they are being treated as interchangeable parts and not as individuals with inherent worth and dignity. 

I want to emphasize how this is not a one-time occurrence. This is a repeating pattern that is impacting multiple people. This happens even between people who may have plenty of experience working with each other.

I am sharing this in all frankness because I love you, and we can do better. 

One of our staff says, “It creates a situation where attending large congregational events feels unsafe. Instead of feeling like I’m coming to work to accomplish a job, I have to emotionally prepare myself for a litany of microaggressions.”

I know that remembering names can be a challenge for the best of us. For some of us, memory issues may be a factor in this. 

Even so, when people in our midst are made to feel unsafe and disrespected, we want to try harder. Our commitment to anti-racism, anti-oppression, and multiculturalism is important, and when something is important, we try harder. 

Diversity is a joy, but diversity is work too. 

The work starts with resolving to get names right. If you make a mistake, then you need to own up to it and apologize. 

Our Unitarian Universalist faith is faith that communities like ours can do hard things, in service to justice and to love. 

Together, we can do this.
Love and courage,
Rev. Anthony Makar
UUCA Senior Minister

Taryn Strauss
UUCA Acting Associate Minister