Mindful of November’s theme of Truth, I’ve been reflecting on what keeps me connected to FUUSN. For one, I’m thankful for our differences because it has helped me to grow.
Some express regret about a lack of diversity in our community. My interest lies in how we respond to differences which already exist, because it’s our differences, that strengthen and enrich our congregation. Our differences are many; there’s age and family diversity, racial and ethnic diversity and diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity. There’s diversity of ability, class backgrounds and economic means. There are vast differences in opinion, religious backgrounds, life experience and levels of participation.
Recognizing our differences and allowing ourselves and others to give voice to the ways we may feel different from one another is challenging. Likewise, it’s difficult to admit that the way we respond to differences does not always live up to our aspirations of who we want or think ourselves to be. And any personal and organizational change effort must start with an acknowledgment of where we are now and where we’d like to be.
In her article: Truth or Consequences: The Organizational Importance of Honesty, Erline Belton talks about the significance of creating a climate of truth telling, which requires, and demands the taking of personal risks and time. Doing so, can “unleash greater individual and collective energy” in how we engage with an organization and one another. If moving from a mono-cultural to multicultural mindset requires speaking from the heart and shifting how we respond to differences, I’m grateful for a community in which to practice taking such risks.
At our retreat in September, the Board began developing a new Covenant to guide our work in the coming years. Conversations have included discussions about welcoming constructive disagreement and staying in right relationship when differences arise, cultivating a culture of respect, transparency and trust, challenging one another to act according to our principles and speaking authentically from our hearts.
In the months ahead, you will hear more about our new Covenant and plans to foster deeper communications between the Board and congregation. It’s important we understand and talk about our differences; both what nourishes us and what we long for at FUUSN so we can create beloved community together. I look forward to this conversation. Josie Greene, Board of Trustees