What is Beloved Conversations?
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.
We are proud that our traditional, in-person version of Beloved Conversations has been offered in more than 200 congregations across the continent over the past decade and are grateful that so many communities have made our program a part of their faith formation and social justice work. We have always hoped to expand our program out further and to create an online version, for increased accessibility and to include folks for whom our in-person program was not a good fit. In that spirit...
The Fahs Collaborative is thrilled to introduce you to the newest version of our curriculum: Beloved Conversations: Virtual!
Designed and intended for online participation in the 2020-2021 church year, with many updated and improved new features, this curriculum offers:
- A digital format that allows users to participate as individuals, which will then prepare them to do congregational and community-level systemic work
- An opportunity to engage in lots of different styles of learning and processing
- Teaching and learning strategies and small group structures organized by racial/ethnic affiliation (often called "caucuses"), allowing differentiated learning for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) as well as for white people
- Explicit resources developed to meet the intellectual, historical, and spiritual needs of Unitarian Universalists of Color living in a world (and a religious community) that privileges white cultural norms
- Separate focused material for ministers/seminarians, religious educators, musicians, church administrators, and other religious professionals, including opportunities to meet in religious professional-only spaces
- A framework that acknowledges and honors the spiritual nature of this work and an understanding that it is essential to our personal and religious development
Our Phased Roll-Out
The new Beloved Conversations: Virtual will be rolling out over the next several church years, beginning in September 2020. This new version of our program will be released in three phases:
- Within (the individual, personal work we each need to do);
- Among (the institutional, systemic change needed in our congregations); and
- Beyond (the work outside our congregations, with our local communities)
The first phase "Within" is open for registration now, and focuses on the internal work that each of us needs to do as we engage racial justice. 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 Critical Friends chosen by the participants; bi-weekly small group conversations in a Learning Pod; and larger, monthly, facilitated Meaning-Making Sessions on Zoom.
There will be two separate terms of the Within program—Fall and Spring—which will contain different content. Participants can sign up for one or both, and may begin in Spring or in Fall. Registration for Fall is available now!
Learning Goals and Outcomes
By the end of this program, you will be more clear about your own racial identity and personal history in relationship to racial justice.
This curriculum offers tools and strategies to continue to deepen your learning and your commitment to racial justice.
This first phase of the work will better prepare you to engage in the next phases, Among and Beyond, where we will start to look at how race, racism, and white supremacy impact the systems of our congregations and communities and work together to shift them. While personal work is an essential precursor to systemic work, it is also a worthy and needed focus in it’s own right, and should not be seen only as a means to an end.
The aim of this program is to underline that racial justice work is the work of our lifetime, and we engage it in different ways. There is no rush and no deadline; everyone has work to do and we will all have different learning goals and outcomes.
Centering the SPIRITUAL Needs of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC)
Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color’s (BIPOC) work has been a neglected conversation, as much anti-racism work has been focused on the learning needs of white folks. For those of us who identify as BIPOC, we recognize the need to understand the impact of racism in our lives - particularly our spiritual lives - and the choices we have made to survive. In this curriculum, we will look at issues such as how and why Unitarian Universalist values matter to us, how race has shaped our personal and communal lives, the dynamics of why and how we stay in the faith—and, of course, what a theology for people of color in a white world might look like. This is VERY exciting work—conversations some of us on the writing team have been waiting FOREVER to have!
White folks’ work focuses on gaining a deeper understanding of how we’ve been indoctrinated by patterns of white supremacy culture to believe in our own superiority and to not understand our own complicity in structures of racism and oppression. We will look at the ways we benefit from structural racism and endeavor to deeply understand the spiritual harm of white supremacy on our own lives, making it impossible for us to see the world as it really is and very challenging to engage in healthy relationships across difference. What are the barriers to and complexities of following the leadership of BIPOC in racial justice? How can we gain courage and learn practices for sitting with discomfort? How do we develop spiritual skills for resilience and long-haul commitment to liberation?
Recognizing the vast differences in our spiritual and learning needs, we are glad to offer this first Within phase of the program in completely separate courses for BIPOC and white folks.
Program Structure and Pacing
This first Within phase of Beloved Conversations: Virtual is broken up into two terms, Fall and Spring, which will each contain different content. You may begin either in Fall or in Spring, but we are only registering people for Fall term currently.
Each term 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, starting October 1. 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 by the end of the registration period.
- 4 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.
This curriculum does not require you to sign up as part of a larger congregation or community. However, if you choose, you can agree to engage the curriculum with folks you are already in relationship with—you can request to be placed into a Learning Pod together for that purpose at the time of registration.
Given the additional challenges of leading anti-racism work in congregations and communities, religious professionals will be sorted into and gathering in religious professional-only Learning Pods and Meaning-Making Sessions.
Fall Term 2020 Pricing*
*NOTE: Prices are per term—Fall Term and Spring Term will have different content. You may complete one or both but we are only registering folks for Fall 2020 right now.
Individual Pricing for Laypeople (ages 18+):
$150 US dollars per person**
**If you are Canadian and would like to pay $150 Canadian, please contact [email protected] for more information.
Individual Pricing for Religious Professionals (minister, intern minister, seminarian, religious educator, administrator, music director, or other paid staff in a congregation or religious organization):
$250 US dollars per person
Reparations Note: White participants are encouraged to consider paying an additional $50, in recognition of the historic legacy of racist economic policies and the ways in which generational wealth and greater access to economic opportunity have privileged white people as a group for hundreds of years. We will use these extra funds to provide scholarships to those who need it to participate in this program.
Interdependence Note: Regardless of your racial identity, if your class privilege/professional expense budget allows you to pay more so that others may pay less, please consider adding an additional contribution to your total. We will use these extra funds to provide scholarships to those who need it to participate in this program.
Equity Note: Regardless of your racial identity, full and partial scholarships are available to those who need them. This includes religious professionals who do not have access to professional expenses or whose professional expense budget is limited.
Please contact us at [email protected] for more details.
Group Discounts for Multiple People:
We are happy to have congregations or other groups pay for multiple people to participate. Group discounts are available for those paying for 10 or more participants together.
- 10-19 people paying together: 10% discount on the total
- 20 or more people paying together: 20% discount on the total
To pay for 10 or more people at once, please contact us at [email protected] for instructions BEFORE any of your people register for the program.
*As we learn more about the actual costs of delivering this program, prices may be subject to change for Spring 2021.
Important Dates for Fall Term 2020
September 1 - 20: Registration and payment for participation in the Fall Term. A Welcome & Orientation Lesson will be available on the learning platform to those who have registered and paid.
October 1: The first Lesson drops onto the learning platform for individual study and reflection at your own pace (followed every two weeks by Lessons 2-6).
Ongoing: Small Group Learning Pod gatherings, every two weeks online
Meaning Making Session Dates: Participants will choose one date/time to attend for each Session (1-4). All times listed are in Eastern time. Sessions will be partially recorded and posted to the learning platform later.
- Session 1: Sat, October 3 at 2:00 - 3:00 pm, or Tue, October 6 at 8:00 - 9:00 pm
- Session 2: Thu, October 22 at 8:00 - 9:00 pm, or Mon, October 26 at 2:00 - 3:00 pm
- Session 3: Thu, November 19 at 8:00 - 9:30 pm, or Sat, November 21 at 2:00 - 3:30 pm
- Session 4: Thu, December 3 at 8:00 - 9:30 pm, or Sat, December 5 at 2:00 - 3:30 pm
BIPOC Religious Professionals
- Session 1: Thu, October 1 at 10:00 - 11:00 am, or Fri, October 2 at 1:00 - 2:00 pm
- Session 2: Mon, October 19 at 2:00 - 3:30 pm, or Thu, October 29 at 2:00 - 3:30 pm
- Session 3: Mon, November 16 at 10:30 am - Noon, or Thu, November 19 at 2:00 - 3:30 pm
- Session 4: Mon, November 30 at 10:30 am - Noon, or Thu, December 3 at 2:00 - 3:30 pm
- Session 1: Sat, October 3 at 2:00 - 3:30 pm, or Tue, October 6 at 8:30 - 10:00 pm
- Session 2: Wed, October 21 at 8:30 - 10:00 pm, or Sat, October 24 at 2:00 - 3:30 pm
- Session 3: Sat, November 21 at 2:00 - 3:30 pm, or Mon, November 23 at 8:30 - 10:00 pm
- Session 4: Wed, December 16 at 8:30 - 10:00 pm, or Sat, December 19 at 2:00 - 3:30 pm
White Religious Professionals
- Session 1: Thu, October 8 at 2:00 - 3:30 pm, or Fri, October 9 at 5:00-6:30 pm
- Session 2: Wed, October 21 at 5:00-6:30 pm, or Thu, October 22 at Noon - 1:30 pm
- Session 3: Thu, November 19 at 5:00 - 6:30 pm or Fri, November 20 at 1:30 - 3:00 pm
- Session 4: Wed, December 16 at 5:00 - 6:30 pm or Thu, December 17 at 2:00 - 3:30 pm
Tentative Dates for Spring Term 2021
February 1 - 20: Registration and payment for participation in the Spring Term
Beginning of March: First Lesson drops onto website, Meaning Making Session 1
Mid-March: First Learning Pod Meetings, Meaning Making Session 2
Mid-April: Meaning Making Session 3
Mid-May: Meaning Making Session 4/Spring Term Wrap-Up
Ongoing: Online Lessons, released every two weeks
Ongoing: Small Group Learning Pod Meetings, every two weeks
If you are registering and paying for yourself, there are two steps to signing up:
Step 1: Click the green button at the bottom of the page to register for the course that aligns with your racial identity. This will include signing up with your name and email address and paying with a credit card or coupon code (or both).
Step 2: Once you register and pay, you will be directed to a Google Form we will use to collect the rest of the information we need from you. YOU ARE NOT CONSIDERED REGISTERED FOR THIS PROGRAM UNTIL YOU HAVE COMPLETED THIS GOOGLE FORM.
As a part of this form in Step 2, we will be asking three questions you may need to consider in advance:
Question 1: Do you want to be in a Learning Pod (small group of 4-5 people, who you’ll meet with virtually every two weeks) with people you already know who are also signing up for the program? Or sorted into a Learning Pod with people you may not already know?
Being in a Pod with people you already know might look like:
- Forming a Pod with up to four other folks from your congregation or community
- Forming a Pod with up to four other religious professionals who you are already in conversation with on this topic
- Forming a pod with up to four people who you only get to see at GA or other national gatherings
NOTE: If you choose this option, you’ll need to indicate on your registration form the names and emails of the other people you’d like to be in a Pod with and you’ll eventually need to figure out amongst yourselves when the best times/dates to meet will be.
Being in a Pod with people you may not already know might look like:
- Being sorted into a pod with other people who share the same time zone
- Being sorted into a pod with other people who share your same date/time preference for your meetings
- Having a chance to talk with people whose perspective or experiences may be different from the folks with whom you already discuss these topics
NOTE: If you choose this option, you’ll pick a preference for a day and time on your form and we will do our best to sort you into a Pod with other people who share those same preferences, but you will eventually still need to schedule the exact dates and times for yourselves as a Pod.
REMINDER: It’s important to note that since the entire Within Phase will take place in racial identity-based groups, you will only be in a Learning Pod with other people who share your racial identity (BIPOC or White).
Question 2: What are your day and time preferences for meeting in a Learning Pod?
If you choose the option to be sorted into a Learning Pod with people you do not already know, you will need to let us know what your best option is for a day of the week to meet and whether you prefer Daytime or Evening. With this information, we will do our best to place you into a Learning Pod with other people whose schedules are complementary.
Question 3: Which of the two time/date options for the Meaning-Making Sessions will you sign up for?
For each of the four Meaning-Making Sessions throughout the Fall, there will be two time/date options (listed above under Important Dates for Fall Term 2020) for you to choose from. Please be ready to indicate a preference in your sign up form, so we can send you the information when it comes time to join the Zoom call for that Session.
If your congregation or organization is planning to pay for a group of folks together, please contact [email protected] for instructions BEFORE any of your people register for the program.
. Group discounts are available for those paying for 10 or more participants together.
- 10-19 people paying together: 10% discount on the total
- 20 or more people paying together: 20% discount on the total
Questions? Please contact us at
Are you ready to join us online for Beloved Conversations: Virtual?