Racial Justice: Next Steps for First Unitarian Church

Impromptu Discussion of Options and Organizing

On Sunday, September 25, a group of us gathered in Rev. Roberta Finkelstein’s office after the worship service to talk about next steps in our racial justice advocacy work. The impromptu gathering emerged from our outrage and sadness at the events of the previous week—two more police shootings of black men and the ongoing Charlotte uprising. All of this amidst Peace Week here in Delaware!

Showing Up for Racial Justice

Rev. Roberta is currently working with a nationwide organization called Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). SURJ is conducting a pilot project for faith communities to help us learn how to better organize and advocate for racial justice. Several of us have been taking part in coaching phone calls and using SURJ resources over the summer as we have navigated through the banner vandalism and other responses to our Black Lives Matter banners.

Click here


to read the basic materials (pdf) and learn more about the values and approaches that SURJ offers. (The acronym for this interfaith effort should not be confused with Standing Up for What’s Right and Just, a previous effort to organize for justice in Delaware.)

Community-Wide Forums

After some discussion we decided that the best next step for us would be to plan and offer a series of community-wide forums that would give people both at First Unitarian and in the larger community an opportunity to learn more about institutional racism, oppression, white privilege, and the specific ways these things play out in areas such as policing, mass incarceration, housing, education, etc.

We want these forums to be both learning opportunities (thus we would have a program with either or own people or invited experts in the various fields) and opportunities for conversation (thus we would have plenty of time for Q&A and/or facilitated small group break-out sessions).

Forming an Organizing and Planning Team

Now we need to figure out how to move forward with this plan. We are looking for a small group to step up and become the planning team for these forums. You would have great latitude in how you choose to proceed. Dates, content, format, publicity would all be yours to propose. You will have lots of help including the following:

  • Rev. Finkelstein will be happy to consult with us, as well as providing introductions to possible speakers
  • Debbi Zarek is hopeful that the Outreach Team would help with logistics, as they did for the wonderful John Dear talk during Peace Week
  • Many of you have indicated that you would like to help in some way: publicity, small group facilitation, connecting with other community organizations, etc.

So, who wants to help plan these Forums? If you are willing to serve on the Planning Team, please contact Rev. Roberta (roberta@firstuuwilm.org). She will put the team together. But, as she told us on Sunday, her work schedule this fall is very full, so she cannot take the lead on this. It will be up to us to lead. Here is a fine opportunity to practice shared ministry!

surjpilotprojectresourceguide11Understanding Systemic Racism and the Charlotte Uprising

Connector readers and others seeking to understand the underlying reasons for the uprisings against systemic racism in Charlotte and elsewhere will find a passionate explanation in this NBC News Op-Ed by Rev. Dr. William Barber, the head of the North Carolina NAACP and founder of the Moral Mondays movement in that state. Dr. Barber was also a featured speaker at the 2016 UUA General Assembly. His book, The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement, was published by the UUA’s Beacon Press and is the Common Read for Unitarian Universalists this year.


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