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Catalyst: Highlights from Multicultural Ministries Regarding Race and Ethnicity

Mosaic Makers: Leading Vital Multicultural Congregations Conference

“My heart was touched, my mind challenged, and my soul enlarged.” —Anonymous Mosaic Makers participant

Dear Friends,

During the second weekend in November, the Unitarian Universalist Association partnered with All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to host the second Mosaic Makers: Leading Vital Multicultural Congregations Conference. More than a hundred Unitarian Universalists came together from all five regions across the country, representing seventeen congregations, some that have been committed to intentional multicultural ministry for years, others that are just making this commitment now. 

“We have the capacity to understand [our congregation’s own unique] story, talk about it, work with it and through it, and build upon a vision for this community of faith that begins with love and ends with love, embracing everything that’s possible and relatable in between. I’m excited!!” —Rev. Mykal Slack, Community Life Coordinator, First Parish in Cambridge

Together we laughed, we cried, we sang, we worshiped, we shared with each other our struggles and our triumphs, we were inspired, even transformed. Conference attendees were able to experience four of All Souls’ worship services—a monthly Praise & Worship service on Friday night and all three Sunday services, each of which has a different “flavor”: humanist, traditional UU, and contemporary Pentecostal-inspired.

“We do not have to believe, worship or pray alike to LOVE alike. I left the weekend with a real-life understanding of how music crosses borders.” —Anonymous Mosaic Makers participant

In his keynote address, “Towards Authentic Multiculturalism,” Rev. Dr. Miguel De La Torre asked participants what we were willing to risk in order to build an authentic multicultural congregation. He reminded attendees that we were going to need to risk big, and dangerously. Rev. Dr. De La Torre’s words were so energizing that Rev. Lavanhar invited him to preach that Sunday and bring his message to the entire congregation. You can view Rev. Dr. De La Torre’s sermon, 'When I'm Hopeless', given during Sunday’s third service, on YouTube.

“Mosaic Makers 2013 was much more than a conference. It was a place of passionate people, engaged deeply in the work of learning how to embrace and create true multicultural welcome. We arrived as seekers: hopeful and hungry. We were fed with worship, praise, music, inspiring speakers and home-grown hospitality. Participating in MM deepened my ministry and sent my spirit soaring!” —Carol Thomas Cissel, Resident Minister at All Souls Unitarian Church, Tulsa, and Conference Coordinator

Highlights of the conference included reflections from UUA President Rev. Peter Morales, UUA Director of Multicultural Growth & Witness Taquiena Boston, and UUA Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director Janice Marie Johnson on the fact that “multicultural” means all cultural aspects of ourselves, including not only race and ethnicity but also class, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ability, and more.

Another highlight was a visit to the Church of the Restoration as well as Restoration Park, in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, the site of the nation’s most violent race riots.

“There is a vision of more energy and joy, more celebration, more passion and commitment in our justice making and worship, more opportunities for building deeper relationships with people that are different from us, more healing.” —Ingrid Mittermaier, First Unitarian Church of Oakland, CA

Want more? Check out this Storify page that gathers together some of the conversation about Mosaic Makers that happened on social media during the conference. You can also check out Multicultural Growth & Witness’s recommended resources for building on Mosaic Makers.

"Mosaic Makers 2013 reflected growth in multiculturalism and cross-cultural competencies in tangible ways! There has been a shift! We are rising to the challenge of embracing multiculturalism in a pluralistic world. ... The serious efforts at understanding and embracing multiculturalism were evident on all sides." —Rev. Hope Johnson, Mosaic Makers Conference Chaplain, UU Congregation of Central Nassau, Garden City, NY

We are also excited to announce that the Unitarian Universalist Association is inviting proposals from UUs on the subject of making Unitarian Universalist communities authentically multicultural. Find out more

Finally, stay tuned for the launch of Mosaic Maker Learning Communities in March of 2014! Until then, you can join the conversation in the Mosaic Makers Facebook group

“The weekend fed my spirit, nourished my soul and encouraged me to stay on the journey.” —Anonymous Mosaic Makers participant

Dream with us. Strategize with us. Build community with us. Support us…
Join us in this holy work.

Masakhane, Janice

Janice Marie Johnson, Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director

"Masakhane" is a rich and resonant word from the Nguni family of languages of South Africa, of which Zulu and Xhosa are two. Loosely translated into English it means, "Let us build together."

Photo credits: Photo 1: Alex Kapitan/UUA; Photo: 2, 4, and 5: Audra Friend/UUA; Photo 3: Carol Thomas Cissel/All Souls Tulsa

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UUA Multicultural Ministries, Multicultural Growth & Witness
25 Beacon St | Boston, MA 02108 | Phone 617.948.6456  | Fax 617.742.03213
email: multicultural@uua.org | website: www.uua.org/multiculturalism