Why Participate in Beloved Conversations?


The registration deadline for the next semester of Beloved Conversations is fast approaching – Feb. 22nd. The name may be familiar but if you haven’t yet participated, perhaps you might wonder why this program would or should be for you?

Beloved Conversations Virtual is an online course on anti-racism and anti-oppression from Meadville-Lombard Theological School, one of two Unitarian Universalist seminaries. It is open to everyone, and self-described as:

…the signature offering of The Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Theological School, a program for Unitarian Universalists seeking to embody racial justice as a spiritual practice. In Beloved Conversations, we are here to heal the impact of racism on our lives, in order to get free together.

So far, UUSM members and friends are participating in “Within,” the first phase of the program, which focuses on individual and internal learning, reflection, and growth. There are separate tracks for white people and for black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). Once more of us have completed two terms of “Within,” we will look to moving onto the next phase.

The program is a significant commitment in terms of time and energy. Each lesson features a syllabus of reading/watching/listening material — essays, blog posts, poetry, music — along with questions and exercises for personal reflection, journaling, and meetings with a dedicated “pod” of fellow church members who are also participating. There are also dedicated worship services for the larger community of UUs across the country taking the course.

There is also a cost involved, and scholarships are available for those who need them. (Please contact the church office for more information.)

Here are some thoughts from a few of us who recently completed their second term…

  • Why did you sign up for BC and what did you hoped to gain by participating?

Lois: I signed up for BC because I wanted to do something and this is what church leaders said was a good thing to do.

Siobhan: The “Within” program idea really resonated with me, because over time I have definitely found that when I meant to be acting in allyship… I often just recapitulated supremacy and oppression. And that is a hard thing to realize and even harder to change. I felt that the “Within” program would give me some tools to figure out what lay deep inside me and how to work at uprooting it.

James: I joined BC because wanted to grow and deepen my understanding of anti-racist and anti-oppressive thought in our UU movement and how it impacts the social justice work we do in our lives as people and as a congregation. It was a fairly big commitment of time but, as the UUSM board and our Intersectional Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Commission (IAROC) had recommended it, I felt it was something I should do.

  • What was the experience like, and what do you feel you learned or took away? What might have provoked personal reflection or growth?

James: It was challenging in terms of the time and energy it required — a lot of reading/watching/listening/thinking. Much of the material was eye- and heart-expanding, provocative, and inspiring. Much of it I have bookmarked or saved to refer back to in the future. Some of it I am honestly still struggling with. The biweekly sessions with my local “learning pod” group (other UUSM members taking the course) were a great way to connect with one another, build trust, and reflect more deeply as a group.

Lois: Pod meetings are far and away the best part. Incredibly supportive and helping to reflect on my own learning and what others are seeing and experiencing that I missed.

Siobhan: There were too many things! I do keep coming back to the music of The Resistance Revival Chorus and the idea of holding joy and a positive future dream in mind while doing this work. Because it is challenging, sometimes exhausting — but it is all in service of a beautiful future.

  • Why would you recommend Beloved Conversations to other UUSM members?

Lois: I have found BC incredibly relevant in my volunteer work — leading to (hopefully) more effective outcomes and career advancement. It’s useful daily in understanding political discourse and in personal relationships.

James: From the POV of a white (male) person: I think you will learn a lot, be stretched in new directions, and perhaps see the world in new ways. It will provide much food for thought and learning for how we can grow together in our work as a UU community committed to equity and justice.

Siobhan: It will help you be better, if you let it. For me this learning has been an act of love, for others and also myself.  I am reminded often of Khalil Gibran’s work ‘On Love’, excerpt below:

For even as love crowns you so shall (it) crucify you.

Even as (it) is for your growth so is (it) for your pruning.

Even as (it) ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,

So shall (it) descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.


All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

1 thought on “Why Participate in Beloved Conversations?”

  1. This class was enlightening in-enlightening myself to the ways in which I showed racist behavior which I was completely unaware The experience in a pod is so worth while as it brings up issues that are similar as well as others not thought of

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