TeachIn2 Resources - Worship Track-Small Group Worship

White Supremacy Teach In: Small Group Worship

This worship outline is designed for small groups of young adults, primarily campus ministries, but can easily be adapted or used by other small groups.

Resources are pulled from the UU Teach In site, specifically the Worship Track resources, and compiled/framed by Rev. Annie Gonzalez Milliken, UUA Young Adult and Campus Ministry Associate

 

There are two worship options in this document. Option 1 focuses on exploring our racial identities in the context of white supremacy. Option 2 focuses on building courage for the journey of dismantling white supremacy. Find the one that works for your group!

 

Worship Option 1: Exploring our Identities

Consider this option if your group hasn’t fully explored racial identity and needs space to grapple with how racial identity functions in our white supremacist society.

 

Welcome:

Have a worship leader explain a bit about this worship and how it is connected to the White Supremacy Teach In movement within Unitarian Universalism. You could say something like:

 

This past April, May, and June, 682 of the 1,038 UU congregations--and 32 UU communities--held UU White Supremacy Teach-ins. These Teach Ins were organized and called for by three religious educators of color as a response to an ongoing larger conversation within our faith about systemic racism.

 

“White supremacy” is a provocative phrase, as it conjures up images of hoods and mobs. Yet in 2017, actual “white supremacists” are not required in order to uphold white supremacist culture. Building a faith full of people who understand that key distinction is essential as we work toward a more just society in difficult political times.

 

The folks behind the Teach Ins have called for another round this October. Congregations are being asked to hold their Teach Ins on October 15th and 22nd. Our group decided to participate in this movement by holding this worship today. Welcome into this space and into this work. You may know the effects of white supremacy on a personal level, you may have been fighting it for years or you may be new to thinking about it. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey we hope this worship holds something to sustain and grow your spirit.

 

Chalice Lighting:

This is an excerpt from Laura Mariko Cheifetz’ Race Gives Me Poetry, talking about the belongingness of identity, and the differences between racial identity and racism:

"No person from Asia shows up in the U.S. and automatically feels linked to people from other Asian countries. What binds us together? American racism. Racism is about dehumanizing us, but racial identity isn’t bad. Racism strips me of my humanity, and racial identity hands it right back. Racial identity is beautiful. Racial identity is powerful. God made us different and lovely and through the ugliness of white supremacy, some of us have found belonging.”

 

Song:

Gathered Here is #389 in the gray hymnal Singing the Living Tradition and is also on page 154 of becoming. You can find a recording of the UU Church of Berkeley singing it in a round here.

 

Words:
Gathered here in the mystery of the hour

Gathered here in one strong body

Gathered here in the struggle and the power

Spirit draw near

 

Reading:

A piece from Rev. Leslie Takahashi in Voices from the Margins: An Anthology of Meditations

Walk the maze

Within your heart: guide your steps into its questioning curves.

This labyrinth is a puzzle leading you deeper into your own truths.

Listen in the twists and turns.

Listen in the openness within all searching.

Listen: a wisdom within you calls to a wisdom beyond you and in that dialogue lies peace.

 

Reflection question:

What has your racial identity journey been like? Laura Mariko Cheifetz explains the tension that racism is dehumanizing but racial identity is beautiful and powerful for her as an Asian American. Rev. Takahashi invites us to explore our inner truth. Spend a few moments reflecting on your own journey with your racial identity. When did you realize you were Black, Asian, white, Latinx, Native, Arab, Multiracial or however you identify? How do you relate to your identity now?

 

Options:

Silent reflection (reflect quietly on the questions)

Journaling (provide paper and writing utensils and encourage people to write responses to the questions)

Pair shares (after a couple minutes of reflection invite people into pairs with a few minutes each to share their answers.)

 

Song:

How Could Anyone is #1053 in  teal hymnal Singing the Journey. You can view on YouTube here.

 

Words:

How could anyone ever tell you

You were anything less than beautiful

How could anyone ever tell you

You were less than whole

How could anyone fail to notice

That your loving is a miracle

How deeply you’re connected to my soul

 

Embodied Practice:

This embodied practice was written and developed by Anna Bethea (pronounced Beth-AY), UUA Outreach Associate and a Japanese-American woman. The Felt Sense of White Supremacy:


The following reading may be especially powerful if the audience is asked to close their eyes as they feel comfortable, to remove visual distractions.  If you’d like a more meditative experience, you can replace references to specific sensations with “How does your body feel when…” and the “Or” lines with “Perhaps you’re numb…” and “Perhaps your whole body aches.”  Either way, preface it by saying there is no right or wrong way to feel.  It’s the meaning that we make about the sensation (or lack thereof) that can be the opening to understanding our own implicit responses.  Be open to exploring the meaning with others you’re close to and respect.

 

///

Does your heart feel pierced when another person who looks like you or looks like your brother is gunned down, a spectacle commissioned by the people who swear an oath to protect your community?

 

Does your mouth go dry, your throat close up, when you come face to face with a realization of your own perpetuation of white cultural norms or an ignorance of other worthy ways of being?

 

Or are you numb all over b/c your body has decided this is too much for you to bear?  Your mind says go, your body says no.  

 

Does your stomach churn when tu familia is hunted down and expelled from the places they risked to go to carve out a better life?

 

Do your arms go numb when you feel helpless to do anything to console, to mend, to fix the injustices you see all around you?

 

Or does your whole body ache, telling you to close into yourself, to cut ties with a world that is just… too much?

 

These are the effects of white supremacy on our bodies.  Yours and the others in this room.

 

There is a place where these can be healed - in a beloved community which sees, hears, and experiences these ills alongside you and chooses to care, to get involved, to connect.

This beloved community is the place where you can reclaim your time to process the horror and the disconnect the rest of the world would rather sweep under the rug.

This is where you can belong because you are loved, not loved because you belong.

 

In a beloved community, you’ll be reminded of some truths that transcend the chaos and the oppression that the dominant culture denies:

That your body is... free.

Your mind is... free.

And your love is … a gift, ready for the giving in every moment.

You are the one we’ve been waiting for to take part, build, and bolster this community for any who seek refuge.

///

 

Song:

Building Bridges is #1023 in the teal hymnal Singing the Journey and is also on page 157 of becoming. You can listen to a recording of it from Synergy 2013 at UUA General Assembly at the 6:35 mark here.

 

Words:

Building bridges

Between our divisions

If i reach out to you will you reach out to me

With all of our voices

And all of our visions

Friends we could make such sweet harmony

 

Closing Words:

A short reading by Rev. Mel Hoover, found in Been in the Storm So Long, a collection of poems, prayers, and meditations from Black UUs:

We can dare to face ourselves in our entirety,

to understand our pain,

to feel the tears,

to listen to our frustration and confusion, and

to discover new capacities and capabilities that

will empower and transform us.




 

Worship Option 2: Courage for the Journey

Consider this option if your group has a lot of activists and/or folks who face oppression regularly and need strengthening for the journey toward dismantling white supremacy.

 

Welcome:

Have a worship leader explain a bit about this worship and how it is connected to the White Supremacy Teach In movement within Unitarian Universalism. You could say something like:

 

This past April, May, and June, 682 of the 1,038 UU congregations--and 32 UU communities--held UU White Supremacy Teach-ins. These Teach Ins were organized and called for by three religious educators of color as a response to an ongoing larger conversation within our faith about systemic racism.

 

“White supremacy” is a provocative phrase, as it conjures up images of hoods and mobs. Yet in 2017, actual “white supremacists” are not required in order to uphold white supremacist culture. Building a faith full of people who understand that key distinction is essential as we work toward a more just society in difficult political times.

 

The folks behind the Teach Ins have called for another round this October. Congregations are being asked to hold their Teach Ins on October 15th and 22nd. Our group decided to participate in this movement by holding this worship today. Welcome into this space and into this work. You may know the effects of white supremacy on a personal level, you may have been fighting it for years or you may be new to thinking about it. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey we hope this worship holds something to sustain and grow your spirit.

 

Chalice Lighting:

This reading by Rev. Thandeka comes from Been in the Storm So Long, a collection of poems, prayers, and meditations from Black UUs:

This common world I love anew

as the life blood of generations

who refused to surrender their humanity

in an inhumane world

courses through my veins.

 

From within this world

my despair is transformed to hope

and I begin anew

the legacy of caring.

 

Song:

Teach this song, sung in this video by some UUs. The words are: Courage my friend, you do not go alone. We will go with you and sing your spirit home. The song comes from the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. You can insert different phrases in place of courage, such as “justice” and “compassion”


 

Reading:

An option from our hymnal for opening words: reading #580, the words of Mark Morrison-Reed about the task of religious community.

´╗┐The central task of the religious community is to unveil the bonds that bind each to all. There is a connectedness, a relationship discovered amid the particulars of our own lives and the lives of others. Once felt, it inspires us to act for justice. It is the church that assures us that we are not struggling for justice on our own, but as members of a larger community

 

It is the church that assures us that we are not struggling for justice on our own, but as members of a larger community. The religious community is essential, for alone our vision is too narrow to see all that must be seen, and our strength too limited to do all that must be done. Together, our vision widens and our strength is renewed.


 

Reflection question:

What connections, communities and relationships sustain your struggle? What ancestors, mentors and teachers do you call on as you work to dismantle white supremacy?

 

Options:

Silent reflection (reflect quietly on the questions)

Journaling (provide paper and writing utensils and encourage people to write responses to the questions)

Pair shares (after a couple minutes of reflection invite people into pairs with a few minutes each to share their answers.)

 

Song:

Dr. Vincent Harding, who was a friend and advisor of Dr. King’s, and wrote Dr. King’s ‘Vietnam’ speech delivered on April 4, 1967, was a legend and a mentor to so many folks worldwide, and especially in my city of Denver. In Denver circles, he is widely credited with spreading the song “We Are Building Up A New World,” sung to the tune of “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder,” and it’s used often at activist and spiritual events in Denver. Watch him teach the song here.

Words:

We are building up a new world

We are building up a new world

We are building up a new world

Builders must be strong.

 

Courage, sisters, don’t get weary

Courage, brothers, don’t get weary

Courage, people, don’t get weary

Though the way be long.

 

Embodied Practice:

adrienne maree brown offers a practice for “if you are overwhelmed with fear and terror,” which you can offer in worship. This practice is pretty different from the rituals we typically do in UU churches, but there is power in getting people face to face and participating in ritual together:

“it’s also a great time to stop being polite. be loving, kind, direct. but most of all, be truthful – full of the capacity to speak the truth when you see and feel it.

i remain fascinated by us, anticipating how we will move beyond reactionary rhetoric and action, to build our connections and move forward from our deepest love and longing.

if you are overwhelmed with fear and terror, find a friend, sit face to face, and do this together:

first, take turns naming your fears and/or griefs. let feeling come with them. with your hands show where the fears live in your body. mirror each other, so you both get the experience of seeing your grief on another.

second, place your hands on your bellies and take turns naming things that make you feel resilient. imagine those things filling you up. rock and roll a bit, make more room for resilience inside yourselves.

third, offer gratitude to each other for both having the complexity to hold grief/fear and resilience in the same miraculous body.

one day at a time. one brave, loving, radical day at a time.”

Song:

Close with “courage my friends” again. Now that you know the song it should be easy to sing together

 

Closing Words:

And one last option from Been in the Storm So Long by Jacqui James about darkness, reminding us that the dark can be a good thing:

Welcome darkness. Don’t be afraid of it or deny it. Darkness brings relief from blinding sun, from scorching heat, from exhausting labor. Night signals permission to rest, to be with our loved ones, to conceive new life, to search our hearts to remember our dreams. The dark of winter is a time of hibernation. Seeds grow in the dark, fertile earth.”