Beloved Conversations—the signature offering of The Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Theological School—is 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. This year, the program has turned virtual. In the Fall, East Shore had over 50 members and friends participant. Everyone is encouraged to continue, and those that weren’t able to join in the fall can start up now.
The course material will continue to focus on the “Within” aspect of the three phased journey the program directors have created. Within is focused on the individual, personal work we each need to do, learning more about ourselves, looking at our stories and our relationship and experiences to race. This work is different for White folks and for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) and will be done entirely in race-based caucuses. Within work will include individual Lessons, using videos, music, and readings, accompanied by reflection prompts and suggested conversations with a Critical Friend chosen by the participants; bi-weekly small group conversations in a Learning Pod; and larger, monthly, facilitated Meaning-Making Sessions on Zoom.
You can listen to our recent worship service about the Beloved Conversations Program here.
I had been thinking that I was doing a pretty good job of doing my own digging to discover my own shortcomings regarding racial awareness. Beloved conversations has opened some new doors for me. Some important doors. The most important one is the understanding that it requires white people to talk and listen to white people. The message has been clear and available for a long time but I haven’t been open enough. Beloved Conversations is making it clear to me that you can’t just get “woke.” It takes a commitment over time to connect and challenge other white people. I am so glad I decided to join this conversation. I am learning lots and feel supported in the process.—Mark Norelius
I love that lots of East Shore members are taking this program, giving us a common language and experience which will help in building community, having group discussions and taking difficult decisions together in the future, not to mention that it should help us to be more welcoming and sensitive to the needs of BIPOC people in our congregation in the future.-Amanda Strombom
Beloved Conversations is a course that welcomes folks at any stage of learning about racism and antiracism. The instructors are talented, the welcome is clear, and the architecture allows learning at one’s own pace. There is a wealth of resources for study, and a robust menu of options for making sense. I particularly love this triad: the comfort zone, the learning zone, and the fear zone. We spend too much time in the comfort zone thinking we’re safe, avoiding the fear zone. Change is the only constant, and trying to stay in the learning zone feels like growth, because it is! Try it! You’ll like it! Even on Zoom, or maybe even especially on Zoom.—Paul Buehrens
Spring Term 2021 Registration: February 1-26, 2021. Lessons begin March 16. Pod meeting times are group determined. Meaning-making sessions, one per month, with several possible dates in March, April, and May. Sliding Scale Pricing (ages 18+), starting at $250 US dollars per person. Scholarships are available. Please register directly through East Shore. Young adults, LGBTQIA, and BIPOC members and friends of East Shore are especially encouraged to attend and take advantage of East Shore’s scholarship funds.
Each term (fall, spring) is comprised of:
- 6 Online Lessons with resources for learning, including videos, readings, music, and artistic resources, as well as questions for reflection and projects to explore your inner landscape vis-a-vis racial justice. These online Lessons are available via the learning platform Teachable and a new Lesson will become available approximately every 2 weeks. Participants may take as much time as they need with each Lesson. Lesson content will be available for up to a year following the start of the term
- 6 Learning Pod Gatherings where you will engage this material in small groups of 4-5 other folks from this learning community. Pods will be self-facilitated and meet approximately every two weeks online. A suggested agenda and discussion questions for your Learning Pod will be included in each Lesson. We will be assisting you in connecting with folks in your same time zone and racial caucus to form a Pod. You will receive an email with contact information for the members of your Pod before the first Lesson. Each participant selects whether they prefer an East Shore pod, or a national pod.
- 3 Meaning-Making Sessions, where we will come together in a large group via Zoom (in our racial caucuses) to worship, learn, and share our evolving understanding of this journey. Meaning-Making Sessions will be facilitated by members of the Fahs Team and our partners. Details about the timing of these sessions is below under Important Dates.
You can learn many more details about the program here.