Join Us for Beloved Conversations: Virtual!

A few months ago, the UUSM Board of Directors authorized our Intersectional Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Commission to begin laying the foundation for us to more effectively engage with this critical work. Our first programmatic offering is Beloved Conversations. This faith-formation, anti-racism program offered by the Unitarian Universalist seminary in Chicago, Meadville Lombard Theological School, went virtual last fall and more than 1,200 learners joined the first phase. UUSM is all-in for for the spring semester! This experience of connection and spiritual development is not to be missed.

The Spring Term registration closes on February 26, and classes begin March 16, with lessons published every two weeks, as well as biweekly small-group check-ins and monthly large group worship and discussion. In the program’s current phase, ‘Within,’ we engage with a personal exploration of race and our work for racial justice. With two caucuses, our white participants are invited into the Un/learning for Liberation course and our BIPOC+ (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) participants are invited into the Gathering Ourselves course. In Beloved Conversations, we are here to heal the impact of racism on our lives. Learn more at meadville.edu/beloved. The program and our church have full and half scholarships available for those who need them, so please don’t let the cost be an obstacle to your participation.

Beloved Conversations—the signature offering of The Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Theological School—is a program for Unitarian Universalists seeking to embody racial justice as a spiritual practice. In Beloved Conversations, we seek to “get free together.” The program is now offered online and members of our community can study and reflect together in the two separate groups for white and BIPOC Unitarian Universalists to process their unique experiences with racial identity, white supremacy, and racial justice.

I want to offer a special thanks to those who stepped up to help advise and lead UUSM’s commission in this tumultuous period of our history: Susan Hendricks Richman, Edna Bonacich, Nalani Santiago, Mike Monte, Linda Van Ligten, James Witker, and Cleo Anderson. Collectively, these leaders bring considerable experience and expertise to this ministry of liberation.

How is the program structured?

Work in both groups will include six, bi-weekly, online lessons, done at your own pace, using videos, music, and readings, accompanied by reflection prompts and suggested conversations with a Critical Friend chosen by the participants; six bi-weekly small group conversations in a Learning Pod; and three larger, monthly, facilitated Meaning-Making Sessions on Zoom.

This curriculum does not require you to sign up as part of a larger congregation or community. However, if you choose, you can agree to engage the curriculum with folks you are already in relationship with from your congregation or community. We hope you will sign up for the work with members in our Santa Monica Community.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a virtual learning opportunity. Basic skills with email, simple websites, and the online meeting platform Zoom are essential to successful participation in this program.

What are the important dates for Spring Term 2021?

February 26: Registration closes for the Spring Term. Once you register and pay, a Welcome & Orientation Lesson will be available on the learning platform.

March 16: The first Lesson drops onto the learning platform for individual study and reflection at your own pace (followed approximately every two weeks by Lessons 2-6, through the end of May/beginning of June).

Ongoing: Small Group Learning Pod gatherings, approximately every two weeks, as scheduled by your Pod.

Meaning Making Sessions Participants will choose one date/time to attend for each of three sessions. If you cannot attend a Session live, they will be partially recorded and posted to the learning platform for later viewing.

BIPOC Meaning Making Sessions (Open to all BIPOC participants): Thursdays 5:00 to 6:30 pm Pacific Time or Saturdays 11:00 am to 12:30 pm.

White Folks Meaning Making Sessions: (Open to all white participants): Wednesdays 12:00 to 1:30 pm Pacific Time or Wednesdays 5:00 to 6:30 pm or Saturdays 11:00 am to 12:30 pm.

How much does it cost?

NOTE: Prices are per Term—Fall Term and Spring Term will have different content. You may complete one or both but we are only registering folks for Spring Term 2021 right now.

Sliding Scale Pricing (ages 18+):

  • $250 US dollars per person
  • $300 US Dollars per person*/**
  • $350 US dollars per person**

Full and partial scholarships are available for those who need them (see more info below)

*Reparations Note: White participants with the means to do so are encouraged to consider paying an additional $50, in recognition of the historic legacy of racist economic policies and the ways in which generational wealth and greater access to economic opportunity have privileged white people as a group for hundreds of years. These extra funds will go towards providing scholarships to those who need it to participate in this program.

**Interdependence Note: Regardless of your racial identity, if your class privilege and/or professional expense budget allows you to pay more so that others may pay less, please consider adding an additional contribution to your total. These extra funds will go towards providing scholarships to those who need it to participate in this program.

Equity Note: Regardless of your racial identity, full and partial scholarships are available to those who need them. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Please contact us at belovedconversations@meadville.edu before registering, to request a scholarship. You may also request a full or half scholarship from the church.

How do I register?

If you are registering and paying for yourself, there are four steps to signing up:

Step 1: Go to www.meadville.edu/beloved to read more about the program. When you have all of the information you need, click the link to our registration page.

Step 2: You will register through the curriculum website Teachable for the course that aligns with your racial identity (Gathering Ourselves for BIPOC or Un/Learning for Liberation for white folks). This will include signing up with your name and email address and paying with a credit card or coupon code (or both).

Step 3: Once you register and pay, you will be directed to a Google Form we will use to collect the rest of the information we need from you. YOU ARE NOT CONSIDERED REGISTERED FOR THIS PROGRAM UNTIL YOU HAVE COMPLETED THIS GOOGLE FORM.

Step 4: Email belovedconversations@uusm.org so we can track your registration at church.

Questions? Please check out the Beloved Conversations website at www.meadville.edu/beloved or contact us at belovedconversations@meadville.edu.

I hope you’ll consider taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity to join in this transformative work!

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