Archive for May, 2017

May 24 2017

June Journal: Forgiveness and Our Families

Published by under Minister's Musings

Forgiveness and Our Families:

Taking the Ritual of Forgiveness Home


In worship on Mother’s Day this year, we shared an all-ages Ritual of Forgiveness. So many people found it meaningful that we want to share it with you here. Maybe this ritual can become part of your regular spiritual practices at home, on your own or with your family.


The Ritual

We all make mistakes—big ones and little ones and everything in between. Maybe, just maybe, you’ve experienced this in your family, too. Parents, grandparents, caregivers, children, youth, young adults—our families are great places for practicing the art of asking for, and offering, FORGIVENESS.

In this Ritual of Forgiveness, we use the word parent to represent anyone who has cared for you or is caring for you now. This could be a grandparent, a foster parent, another adult, an older sibling, your mom or moms or dad or dads …

We invite you to go as deep with this as you feel ready, or you can keep it really simple.

After a moment of quiet meditation, write down on a slip of paper your answers to one or more of these prompts. You can share these slips with your family—or burn them mindfully to release them into the gentle air.

  • A mistake or problem for which you are ready to forgive your parent
  • A mistake you made as a child—either now, or earlier in your life—that you’d like to ask forgiveness for from your parent
  • A mistake or problem you made for which you hope your children or the next generation will forgive you
  • A mistake or problem for which you are ready to forgive yourself in your parenting and caregiving

May this Ritual of Forgiveness offer you strength, hope, and guidance on your journey toward wholeness!


With gratitude for how we grow together,
Rev. Nancy

Comments Off on June Journal: Forgiveness and Our Families

May 19 2017

Continuing the Conversation: “Teach On!”

Published by under Minister's Musings

Continuing the Conversation: “Teach On!”

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones


On Sunday, May 7, 2017, we here at the First Unitarian Church of San José join about 700 congregations in the nationwide UU White Supremacy Teach-In, examining the ways in which the insidious culture of white supremacy infects not just our whole country but even our own beloved faith. We engage in the spiritual practice of saying those dreaded words, “white supremacy,” while wrapping our minds and hearts around its systemic definition: “White supremacy”—not white supremacists but the broader noun white supremacy—“is the set of institutional assumptions and practices, often operating unconsciously, that tend to benefit white people and exclude or harm people of color.”

The sanctuary is packed with long-time members, brand-new visitors, and everyone in between. Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, candidate for president of the UUA, and I share worship leadership. Together with all of you, we create “brave space,” where we Unitarian Universalists can be strong, brave, curious, humble, and collaborative enough to build a new way of being.

After worship, 53 people return to the sanctuary for a talk-back about the service and a deeper exploration of the proposed 8th Principle. The 8th Principle, written by Bruce Pollack-Johnson and Paula Cole Jones and endorsed by Black Lives of UU, builds on the passage 25 years ago, at the 1992 General Assembly, of a Resolution of Immediate Witness that affirms the “vision of a racially diverse and multicultural Unitarian Universalism.” Five years later, at the 1997 General Assembly, delegates vote that the Unitarian Universalist Association commit to intentionally becoming a multicultural and antiracist institution. That’s 20 years ago now. How are we Unitarian Universalists and our institutions making this commitment real?

The 8th Principle would explicitly name our shared commitment to dismantling this culture of white supremacy in our own institutions. Here’s the principle:

“We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”

One of our largest congregations, All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., has already created an 8th Principle Task Force, in order to implement antiracism tools and practices toward institutional cultural change in their congregation. The task force has clear and measurable goals: to equip 50 percent of the active congregation with a shared antiracist power analysis within five years, and to engage all parts of the church in setting goals and measuring progress toward racial justice and inclusion.

At FUCSJ on May 7, our initial responses to the proposed 8th Principle run the gamut from enthusiasm to doubt, from worries about accountability to helpful hints about wordsmithing. Here are some of our responses.

As you continue to ponder the heart of this nationwide call for deeper systemic change, what do you want FUCSJ’s commitments to be?

In Our Own Voices: The 8th Principle


  • I believe this principle is a good idea. I agree that we need to explicitly name goals to achieve them. [repeated by several people]
  • The 8th Principle is needed to keep the challenging work of undoing racism in the forefront.
  • I like the concept of “journeying,” which implies that churches will be on a journey and at different places on a continuum, just like “accountably dismantle” implies measuring at points along the journey and that the institutional norms of white supremacy require being taken apart not just tweaked.
  • Like it and support it. It’s beautiful and recognizes what we have to undo to move change.
  • The 8th principle is active! “Dismantling” is a powerful word!  I like it very much.  We need to be active!
  • It is active (do something), not just passive.
  • Love the “spiritual wholeness” language! As a white person, I have struggled to articulate why the work of dismantling white supremacy is important to me. I am not spiritually whole as long as white supremacy continues. And none of us is.
  • It’s spiritual. It’s about becoming whole in ourselves and congregations.
  • The best mention of community (as experienced) in the 7 Principles
  • Community should be a principle.
  • It gives UUs a permanent commitment, like our other principles.
  • I would like to see the 8th Principle included! [repeated by many people]
  • Yes. You are welcomed here.
  • Yes!!! [x 4]
  • Strongly support this principle, whether or not formally added as #8.
  • This principle would be a powerful addition and seems critical to putting our principles where our mouths are. However, if it is all we do, it will not be enough.
  • The 8th Principle is good as long as it is not just words!
  • It tells us how to do this, and that is to be accountable and dismantle racism and oppression.
  • I like that the 8th principle is explicitly written to promote multiculturalism and dismantle racism. It is a needed addition to the 7 Principles.
  • This is an important principle, written in a very loving way. I hope San José and the wider church community find their way to affirming it.


  • The proposed 8th Principle isn’t a principle at all. It’s a course of action driven by our 7 existing principles. Adding it would add nothing to our principles.
  • The other principles are Ends Statements. This is not.
  • Proposed 8th Principle sounds like a goal; content should be a principle.
  • Humanists will not like “spiritual growth” in this area.


  • “Accountably” is important, too: we have to create measurable change.
  • I am for it, but what does “accountability” mean?
  • It’s about taking responsibility for our actions.
  • I like the idea of adding the 8th principle. I don’t object to any of the words used, and I think they make a powerful statement. My questions are: How will we be accountable and to whom? And when do we start?
  • “Accountably dismantle”—what does this mean to me?
  • “Other oppressions” seems too vague to me, which makes it hard to be accountable.
  • I like that “other oppressions” is included. It broadens it to ethnicity and culture (not just skin color).
  • It feels odd to put “accountably” into a principle. That belongs in an action plan to implement the principle.

 The 8th and the 1st Principles

  • The need for the 8th Principle highlights the failure of us to act on the 1st Principle, the “inherent worth and dignity of every person.”
  • Doesn’t “dignity” cover this?
  • At its base, the 8th Principle is contained in the 1st Principle, but it is good to make this facet explicit. It’s part of the RESPECT for every individual.


  • Very important to state commitment explicitly; does need wordsmithing
  • Edit down to this: “We, the member congregations of the UUA, covenant to affirm and promote dismantling racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
  • I like the proposed principle, but it could be more simply worded as “We, the member congregations of the UUA, covenant to affirm and promote: Building a diverse multicultural Beloved Community that accountably dismantles racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
  • Not “by working to …” but “by building …” Working sounds like
  • This 8th principle looks good to me, but I would move “by our actions” right after “to build.” I think it works better there; it seems to disrupt flow where it is.
  • Support 8th Principle but change to start with “To build a diverse …”
  • I think it is important to not only promise to stop the bad but to also promote the good … to eradicate racism and replace it with love and compassion.
  • Love the wording, however can we add something about celebrating diversity?
  • The principle is in the right direction, but the wordiness waters down its purpose, which is to identify and change what’s inside that holds us back.
  • Yes and too much description of HOW; more succinct would be better, placed after the 3rd or 4th Principles
  • “By our actions” is the how for all the principles.

 More Thoughts

  • Maybe it is part of the real mission (not just a principle).
  • Many in our congregation feel we are already expressing the value expressed by the 8th Principle.
  • I would also like us to add a 7th Source, liberation movements, such as civil rights, feminism, and gay liberation.

Comments Off on Continuing the Conversation: “Teach On!”