Radical Welcome Pilot Program
The Transforming Hearts Collective is thrilled to announce the beginning of plans to launch a pilot program for congregations that want to take their “welcome” to the next level—with the support of a grant from the Unitarian Universalist Funding Program!
Growing out of a call to support congregations in becoming places where queer and trans people of all races/ethnicities, abilities, classes, and ages can fully get their spiritual needs met and bring their gifts forward, we are working to create a pilot program that will help faith communities transform their congregational culture around “welcome,” difference, the purpose of spiritual community, marginalized experiences (particularly sexuality, gender, race/ethnicity, class, and ability), and social justice. We plan to create a program that is:
No faith community can claim to be LGBTQ-welcoming if that welcome only extends to LGBTQ people of particular races, classes, abilities, and ages. Rather than treating different aspects of identity and experience separately, we plan to create a program that fully integrates sexuality, gender, race/ethnicity, ability, class, age, and more, and is grounded in the experiences and needs of people who have multiple marginalized identities.
We believe that in order for transformation to happen, we need to reach people’s hearts, not just their minds. A lot of LGBTQ inclusion work focuses on intellectual understandings of what it means to be trans, or what the experiences of gay people are, rather than deeply engaging on a heart level with how oppression keeps us all from being our full authentic selves when it comes to gender and sexuality. We plan to create a program that centers compassion, care, and love.
- Spiritually grounded.
Practicing radical welcome is a way of practicing Beloved Community. There are deep, spiritual roots to our call to engage with difference differently. We plan to create a program that grounds participants in their faith and gives them concrete tools and spiritual practices for the work of welcome.
- Up-to-date with respect to LGBTQ identity.
Language and understandings around gender, sexuality, relationships, and families have been shifting and evolving at breathtaking speeds, and many faith communities are decades behind. We plan to create a program that pushes participants to engage with modern understandings of gender and sexuality and stays perpetually up-to-date rather than becoming quickly obsolete.
- Flexible and custom-fit.
One of the key flaws of curriculum-based programs for faith communities is that they don’t work the same way in congregations of varying sizes, resources, demographics, and geographic locations. We plan to create a program that allows each congregation that engages with it to have a custom-fit experience.
Transformation requires much more than a curriculum, which is why we plan to create a program that engages a congregation’s full membership and leadership, as well as engaging every area of congregational life, including worship, religious education, social justice, and more. We also plan to create a program that establishes practices for continued growth in this area, rather than a “one-and-done” approach.
We plan to utilize a grounded and accountable method of creating this program, starting with creating an advisory committee of people representing a diversity of sexualities, genders, races, classes, abilities, ages, congregational experience, leadership roles, etc., then working as a collective to create a pilot program, identifying initial congregations to participate in the pilot, and working closely with those congregations to improve the program before launching it in full.
Ultimately our goal is to help faith communities transform and live into their full potential as places of radical inclusion and forces for justice in the world. We can’t wait to share more as this program develops!