UUSM takes on a Special Common Read: “Mistakes and Miracles”

Every year, the Unitarian Universalist Association chooses a book as a Common Read, to encourage congregations to engage with a particular topic for reflection and discussion. (UUSM last offered a Common Read in 2019 but has participated for many years.) This year’s book is Mistakes and Miracles: Congregations on the Road to Multiculturalism, which tells the stories of five UU congregations’ journeys — and sometimes struggles — to grow into more diverse and equitable communities.

The book deals with themes that have become ever more timely in the last several years as the UU movement, which has long been committed to outward action for social justice, has embarked on challenging work of looking inward at our institutions and ourselves.

The UUA says of the book: “Today, UU congregations are grappling with a charge to dismantle white supremacy in ourselves, our communities, and our world. As we enter a Common Read of this book, we find ourselves receiving its report with a changed spirit and an urgent need for multiculturalism and antiracism work in our congregations and our movement.”

UUSM’s Intersectional Anti-Racism Commission (IARC), along with Faith in Action: Peace & Social Justice Committee and Adult Programs Committee, are joining together to encourage us all to read and reflect on this book and what it may have to teach us. This year we are also asking the congregation to take something of a different, deeper approach.

Study groups will be offered, facilitated by Adult Programs, for those who want to discuss the book in depth — as we usually do for the Common Read. But additionally, we are asking our committees and other church groups to engage with the book as well — to talk amongst themselves and consider how these stories and experiences might inform the work they do in service to the congregation. Perhaps this looks like setting aside some time in a meeting for discussion before the end of the church year. Perhaps some groups will want to spend more time and take longer.

Our hope is that in a few months time, after members and groups have had time to reflect and discuss, we will come together for a larger, all-congregational conversation about our reactions, ideas, and big takeaways.

This Common Read project follows the deep and sometimes challenging work that some of us started with the Beloved Conversations program. It relates to our discussions about possible adoption of the proposed 8th Principle of Unitarian Universalism. It complements our congregation’s long history as an ally to local and national campaigns for social, economic, and racial justice. It is certainly not a simple prescription for change, nor a final lesson on the subject. But it is one more thing we can do together to answer a call to grow more fully into the promise of our stated values and aspirations for “beloved community.” 

Hardbound print editions of Mistakes and Miracles are available for sale for $25 during coffee hour. Scholarships are available. Kindle edition and audiobook versions are also available.

The first Common Read discussion group via Adult Programs will begin on Saturday, April 15th, 10:30-12:30 pm in Forbes Hall, facilitated by Judith Martin-Straw and James Witker. Subsequent sessions will be planned by the group. Contact Adult Programs with questions or to RSVP.

Contact Adult Programs about the Common Read:
(Register for classes here.)
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