The Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism seeks to be and is a spiritual home for Black Unitarian Universalists in the US (and indeed even the globe with our growing collaboration and partnership with the African Francophone Ministry led by Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana). In a world that is increasingly more dangerous for our people, we want to support our Black UUs as best we can.
We believe--and it’s at the core of all we do--that the people most directly affected by something are the people who can best articulate what they need from a group, organization, or spiritual community. It is in the spirit of discernment and listening hearts that we embarked on a journey to discover what Black UUs were looking for and needing from the BLUU OC. This was especially an invitation for those who were unable to attend the BLUU Convening in March 2017 in New Orleans. And we did indeed learn a ton from the survey results, and it has already and continues to inform our work moving forward.
A majority of survey participants began attending UU churches in the last five years.
Whether or not they’re part of a congregation, most Black UUs feel a deep sense of isolation and rely heavily on social media, particularly the Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism closed Facebook group, to connect with other Black UUs.
Black people tend to become a part of UU congregations because of their theology, not because of the community. White dominant culture gets in the way of their communal experience and serves as an exclusionary force in church life. Simply put: Black people, when they show up in ways that are culturally divergent from white, middle and upper class culture, do not feel welcomed.
Most Black UUs have only attended the one or two UU churches nearest them and so the local congregations are having the greatest impact on whether or not Black UUs remain active in the faith, whatever the Association and its leadership may or may not be doing in this regard.
BLUU plays a critical role in nurturing the spiritual lives of Black UUs across the country, whether or not they have actually sought out pastoral care. The public voice, presence, and existence of BLUU has been and is important to many Black UUs.
The meet-ups, online worship services, daily affirmations, and pastoral care that make up the BLUU Ministerial Network (BLUUMin) programming is deeply meaningful and sufficient for the majority of survey participants, and also folks are hopeful for an expansion of these offerings that involve more advertising of the programming, face-to-face gatherings, small group ministry, and opportunities for youth/young adult leadership.
Participants name all the ways that they maintain joy in their lives, including nature, family, music, learning, and spiritual practices of various kinds, but only a handful of those who are finding and maintaining joy in their lives mentioned church or a faith community as the reason. And of that handful, nearly half were referring to a community that was not UU.
The vast majority of people feel like organizing from a faith perspective with other Black UUs would be beneficial to them and their UU communities.
A lack of time and money, as well as the constraints of location and social anxiety, are contributing factors to Black UUs not being able to connect with one another.