When John Keasler came to First Church in 1999, he was looking for a spiritual home where his being gay wouldn't be a problem. When he found the Rainbow Action Group on the patio and he learned that the Men's Fellowship sponsored a Gay-Straight weekend retreat, he knew he'd come home.
For 22 years, John has been a loyal member and a committed leader, currently co-chair of Rainbow Outreach. I asked him why he thinks that a group officially recognized as an organization of the church in 1981 is still going strong. He said Rainbow Outreach has been doing the same thing for forty years, and that it responds to issues that affect LGBTQ people within First UU and in the larger community.
When a BBIPoC person shares that they've been harmed by racism, please learn to listen and respond with compassion. It may seem that we hear about racism in our church more often than in our other spaces. This is not because racism is not happening elsewhere, it is because we have members who trust us with their truth because our principles say that we will hear them. How to Respond with Compassion when Someone is Hurt by Racism.
SOLACE is a visitation program that comforts and supports persons held in immigration detention, tells their stories, and advocates for humane immigration policy. SOLACE offers a friendly visitor to end the isolation and affirm the dignity and worth of those who request a visit. Many people I've spoken to did not know we were back in as a presence at the Otay Mesa Detention Center. This is our 3rd life as SOLACE. We have to keep reinventing ourselves as we've been suspended three times. Two times because they changed the paperwork and agreements we needed to sign to enter the Detention Center? which would effectively have taken away our First Amendment rights. There were many visits to Congressional offices both times to find a way to get back in, as well as phone calls, and needed visits to pro bono attorneys. UURISE (Unitarian Universalist Refugee and Immigrant Services and Education, Inc.) was one of the organizations we consulted with about this.
Following the leadership of BIPOC folks & admitting we can (& do) harm others are important learnings. Gain some insights by listening to:
From our partners at the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (SDIRC):
"Thank you to everyone for your hard work in making the 2020 TRUTH Act Forum a success! Collectively we:
Journey Toward Wholeness: What Can I Do? Learn about the role of race in Biden's victory & Trump's relative success by listening to NPR's podcast "How Whiteness Affected the Election" (35:39). Listen to Krista Tippett's interview [51:00] with a trauma specialist "Resmaa Menakem in Conversation with Robin DiAngelo." It has made an impression with Beloved Conversations Virtual participants and may challenge you.
Read our UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick Gray's UU World column "A Message to White Unitarian Universalsists" about how her attitudes on policing has changed over the past years & the resource list at the end of the article. Then watch the brief (2:13) interview with Sonya Renee Taylor on combating racism with action.
Tuesday, October 13, 6 pm, Register here to get the link: http://bit.ly/LWVPropTalk. This year, we will be making decisions on 12 California ballot propositions and five more measures for San Diego city. Get the inside scoop on how to tackle your ballot this election season with the League of Women Voters & First Unitarian Universalist church.
by Jan Garbosky
Have you heard, said, or thought:
Written for Beacon Broadside by Howard Bryant, correspondent for NPR's Weekend Edition & featured speaker ("Full Dissidence") at June's UU Virtual General Assembly (GA). Thanks go to Mary Severine for the suggestion. Read "Policing Is the Glue of Whiteness".
We are less than three months away from the General Election on November 3, 2020. All California voters will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot with prepaid postage for the General Election. To make sure that you get your ballot, double-check your voter registration at voterstatus.sos.ca.gov.
We have assembled a list of the best anti-racism articles, books, social media feeds and videos we know of to help people learn about a wide range of topics relating to racism. Please invest in yourself, your family, your community and our world by viewing and sharing these links and, more importantly, we hope you'll join us in taking the steps shared herein to begin to heal our world.
By Stevie K. Carmody, Intern Minister
Many months have passed since this protest, but the learnings have stuck with me, and the urgency of this call has not abated. Because of my short (3 hour) detention and the ensuing Federal Misdemeanor charge, I waited to offer something to this blog until after my court date had passed. On May 8th, I pleaded guilty in court to a charge of “nonconformity to the lawful orders of a federal agent.” Those detained and charged that day were ordered to pay a fine and perform community service. Here’s the story of that day, to complement Rev. Kathleen’s account on this blog, and offer my own reflections:
Love knows no borders. Not only is this a truth in the reality of people’s lives and experience today – it has always been a truth – we’ve been loving beyond and across barriers and borders since we knew we could love. And earlier this month, Love Knows No Borders was also a campaign, organized by the American Friends Services Committee – a campaign to draw attention to what has been happening to migrant families, to people living in dangerous circumstances and crippling poverty who walked for weeks to our border, to seek asylum, to try for a better life for themselves and their present and future children. In spite of the horrible treatment our government has imposed on families already living in this country – separating families, taking children out of the arms of their parents (15,000 children currently living in temporary tent cities and shelters), the caravan of people from Latin America came in hope. And though I was recently back from part 1 of my sabbatical, I knew I needed to participate. I had to respond to the immoral and inhumane behavior of my government and how they were treating people who were coming to our border to ask for asylum.
Text of the speech delivered by Rev. Kathleen Owens at the San Diego Organizing Project's Border Wall Press Conference in San Ysidro.
"Good afternoon, I’m the Rev. Kathleen Owens, Lead Minister at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego answering the call of Love. We are here to speak the truth – that unless we are of Indigenous Native American or Mexican heritage, we are all immigrants on this land. We’re here to name the truth that immigrants have always made this country better…that we need bridges, not walls."
This prayer was offered by Rev. Kathleen Owens at an Interfaith Vigil honoring Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, Friday, July 15, 2016
"Spirit of Life…God of many names and no names…we are here today in grief, in mourning for the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile – two African American men who are tragically representative of so many African Americans who have been killed by excessive police force…killed by questionable means…dead due to systemic racism, not only in our society but within the very structures and systems that are supposed to keep people safe…that are supposed to help and not harm. Dear God, we are angry; our hearts are broken, our heads ache trying to make any sense out of all of this and our spirits are weary of the constant stream of violence that divides the human family. With all of this, it is too easy to give in to despair, give in to apathy, to give in to hate and revenge…but God we know you call us to be better than that; Spirit of Love you lead us into another way; you call us into action, into solidarity with one another, so that we might demonstrate the truth that hate and racism will not divide us; that bigotry and violence will not stop us from living out the truth that we are all connected and that it is long-past time for us to see one another clearly, it is time for us to do the work of justice for all our neighbors and kin; it is time to find a way beyond stereotypes and fear and create meaningful change in our streets and in our neighborhoods…give us strength to do the hard work of real relationship building – give us patience to learn and listen to one another – give us courage to speak out against white privilege and systemic racism; give us the wisdom to work with leaders and officers that will ensure equal protection under the law for ALL of US; …help us oh God to continue the work for racial justice. This we ask in the name of all that is holy. Amen."
I had the privilege of being one of 31 speakers at Wednesday night's budget meeting...the first budget meeting County Supervisors have ever had in the evening. It was a meaningful experience and I was proud to stand in partnership with SDOP and others in the coalition of Invest in San Diego Families. The three minutes they gave me to speak went quickly so here are my full comments.
"Hello – I am Rev. Kathleen Owens, I live in District 4 and I am the Lead Minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Diego with two campuses…one in District 4 (San Diego) and the other in District 1 (Chula Vista) serving over 750 members and friends, and we are a member congregation of the San Diego Organizing project (SDOP). Thank you for this evening meeting on this important issue of the County budget. The church I serve is a partner with several of the groups that make up the Invest in San Diego Families coalition. As a lead minister with two campuses that includes multiple buildings and on-going maintenance needs and more, I very well understand the need to have reserve funds; I appreciate the strategic thinking of planning for unexpected needs; the need to have a rainy-day fund…our own church budget operates similarly. But I am also keenly aware of, as are members of my congregation, that we are not meant to be a savings bank while programs and services for people are kept at a minimum. What this coalition is saying is that the rainy day you are saving for…is happening right now."
The First UU Church of San Diego blog is your resource for upcoming events and past event recaps. Leave us a comment to let us know what you think!