May 7 Teach In

On May 7, our congregation will respond to the call by the Black Lives of Unitarian Universalists to disrupt business as usual to participate in an Association wide teach-in and assessment of where we are in our commitment to dismantling systems of oppression in our society and our congregations. The Religious Education program will also be included using age-appropriate materials for children and youth


The teach-in is on white supremacy and racism

I’ve already shared this message with our volunteer guides. I’ve heard from some of them that they don’t want to be called a “white supremacist”. I get that. Black Lives UU  points out that  in 2017 KKK and Aryan Nation members are not required in order to uphold white supremacist culture. I know that  in my head. And yet, I’m not sure my gut is OK with me calling myself a white supremacist.


At the RE Council meeting April 3rd, we talked about the teach in and the words used.  REC members totally get all this too. And so I’m working to give the RE guides and families information and resources and an offer of support.


Calling Everyone In

As our partner organization, Showing Up for Racial Justice, explains, in working toward justice, we don’t want to label people and we don’t want to “call people out” on their ways of thinking and acting; we want to call people in to learn more. At our Congregational Conversation at Albany UU about the teach-in this past Sunday, one person quoted from this blog –  Nope. Not Me. No. written by one of my colleagues, Kari Kopnick. Perhaps Kari’s experience will give you too some context about the teach in. May 7th is a call to UU’s of all ages to build a faith full of people who understand what is needed for us to work for a more just society in difficult political times.

Materials for congregations are already being submitted

This call to action and worship comes from a growing network of UUs–religious professionals and and lay leaders from both within and outside congregations–led by UUs of color and white UUs working together. There are many of my religious educator colleagues who are working right now on gathering age-appropriate materials to choose from for our May 7 Family Chapel and follow up activities. The resources are already coming in and being made available to me and my fellow religious educators and ministers.  I have posted a request for resources that white religious educators can use in mostly white congregations to work to create safe spaces for children of color. I don’t want the center of the teach in to be all about what white people can do.

Keeping connected

I’ve let the RE guides know that I expect have something prepared for the May 7 Family Chapel and follow up activities as well as activities for the older groups to share with them by April 15. I can also post materials for parents and caretakers. I’ll start compiling those and I’ll email you the link to find them. You might have some great resources that you’d like to share with me and I’ll gratefully receive those.

I can schedule times talk to/meet with all the RE guides who are planning to lead or assist May 7. I can also meet with groups of parents and caretakers. As with our Parent Support Group, you might benefit from hearing each other’s thoughts and experiences. These can in person or on-line during a weeknight; or after Sunday school on April 30.  If you’d like to speak to me individually, you can give me a call or text or email.

No doubt the teach in will be a challenge for us at Albany UU. Challenge can be OK; challenge can be good. I want to work with the guides to create RE experiences for children, youth and the RE guides themselves to learn something about the realities of racism and white supremacy. And I want to support your efforts at home.

I’m always glad to hear from you. 

Reply here if you’d like your comment to be public; send me an email at if you’d like to send me a message privately.

In joyful service,



About Leah

Leah and her husband, Kevin Purcell, live in Albany. They have two grown daughters that were raised at Albany UU. Leah has served as DRE at Albany UU since 2007; before that she worked in both private and public schools. She served as Chair of the Seaway Chapter of the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) and now serves on the LREDA Board.

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