As many of you know, there was a community conversation on April 30 to give space for the diverse feelings and needs congregants were facing in response to recent staff transition announcements and communications. Board President Neil Manzullo offered some opening remarks and context about the recent events, and CRR helped provide a space for small group processing of individual feelings and needs afterwards. This opportunity was open for our youth, and we were additionally grateful to hear some of their perspectives in our final closing circle. As a way to acknowledge the full range of feelings and needs our congregation is holding, we collected participants’ written responses, and present them here as word clouds. The larger words indicate a greater frequency of mention. While these are a snapshot in time, we also want to acknowledge the depth and significance of holding these feelings and needs. (Letter continues below images)
Additionally, many came to the meeting hoping for more information and clarity, and while the meeting was not designed to respond to these needs, we offered an opportunity for remaining questions to be written and collected. We gave all of these questions to the Board (copied to the Executive Team and Ministers) for their consideration last Saturday.
As we continue to consider ways to move forward together as a community, address harm, communicate our disagreements, and strive to improve our ways of working as a congregation, the Committee on Right Relations is committed to continuing to hold conversation opportunities to work through our differences and stay in covenant with each other.
We are aware there is a mutual desire for engagement between the congregation and the Board and Executive Team on questions relating to recent events and we anticipate an opportunity will be available before the annual meeting in June, with more details to be announced soon.
Additionally, May 21 was previously designated as a Sunday where we would be practicing some Transformative Justice practices together. As many of you know, we have been working with Transformative Justice consultants to support our journey toward a beloved community in dealing with conflict and harm in better ways, rooted in an anti-racist framework. A community of practice met with our consultants for a deep-dive in these practices for six sessions this spring, and May 21 is an opportunity for the wider congregation to explore and use some of these practices together. Please plan to stay after the service on May 21 for this opportunity.
We know that these opportunities are not sufficient for the variety of needs that have been expressed, and we continue to explore opportunities to increase covenantal conversation in our community. While this is a need all of us can support, the CRR will continue to work with the Executive Team, Ministers, and Board as well as any interested congregants, in supporting needed conversations moving forward. You can continue to reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Macani Toungara, Taylor Johnson, Kim Vitelli, Sharon Kniss, Kyla Dixon – Your Committee on Right Relations
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Thank you for your work. I am grateful.