Beloved Conversations is returning to First Parish Cambridge starting this fall and you are invited to be part of it!

What is Beloved Conversations?

Developed by the Fahs Collaborative at Meadville-Lombard Seminary, Beloved Conversations is an experiential curriculum that provides an intentional space to explore the role of race/ethnicity in individual and congregational lives. Using a small-group ministry format, the curriculum creates a supportive space for congregants to talk about their own experiences, while identifying places where growth is necessary. As an instrument of faith formation, it offers participants a chance to rediscover the sacred and important presence of compassion, grace, risk-taking, vulnerability, and the healing joy when cross-racial relationships are reconciled.

More than 140 Unitarian Universalist, Jewish, and Quaker congregations have done this curriculum including congregations in Concord, Lexington, Brookline, and Littleton.

Why are we doing Beloved Conversations at First Parish Cambridge?

First Parish Cambridge is a covenanted community where we strive to do the work of resisting white supremacy in a space of love and respect. We may not always feel “safe” when we challenge ourselves and each other, but we commit to working together and to respecting one another.

Our mission statement calls us to build multicultural community. The First Parish Cambridge Racial Equity Team (formerly known as the Transformation Team and also the 8th Principle Team) first sponsored Beloved Conversations at First Parish a year ago. The response has been strongly positive and so we are bringing Beloved Conversations back to First Parish to make this work available to more persons.

What is the curriculum about?

The teaching and learning materials are based on the best practices of multicultural and arts-infused education, using a variety of teaching strategies that promote learning across style, demographics, preferences, and dispositions. Each session poses evocative questions that help learners reconcile their experiences with race/ethnicity in their lives alongside the larger cultural systems that shape their perspective. The final three sessions of the curriculum lead participants in re-tuning their heads and hearts for the ongoing challenge of being accountable, responsive, and resilient learners in multicultural contexts.

Key details:

  • Twenty (20) people plus facilitators will participate in this series.
  • The program begins with an Opening Retreat at First Parish facilitated by a Fahs Collaborative staff person: Friday evening, October 18, and Saturday, October 19, 2019.
  • Retreat participants then divide into two groups (~ten participants plus two facilitators to allow for more intimate discussion) for eight two-hour sessions at First Parish roughly twice a month, on either Thursday evenings or Saturday mornings.
  • Participants will sign up for either the Thursday group or the Saturday group (no switching between groups is allowed).
  • Participants should plan to attend both the retreat and the following eight sessions.

In the words of one of last year’s participants:

As a congregation we have decided to continue the program of Beloved Conversations; and we are all embarking on this journey together. Think of us, all of us, on a trek.  Maybe you see us as a group hiking through the woods, navigating around twisted and exposed tree roots.  Maybe you imagine a flock of birds, migrating long distances, swooping and swelling and following an insistent internal instinct.  Maybe you picture a big extended family meandering through a massive parking lot, trying to locate the van.  Whatever image works for you, find it and stick with it.  See our congregation moving en masse through the environment.  Some of us will charge ahead with zeal and passion; some may hang back, unsure of the best way to be involved.  Some may join midway; others may need to take a break and step out for a pause.  Some may express discomfort with the direction we have chosen.  Some may feel distrustful of the methods.  

But all of us are here because we hope to move forward.  We hope to move toward racial equity.  For those of us who are white, we plan to find our part in white supremacy, in order to dismantle white supremacy.  None of us know exactly how we get there, none of us knows exactly how we will be affected by the journey.  But we must move.  We must move away from this place built on racial injustices.  And Beloved Conversations is an entry point to this journey.  

What are the expectations of me as a participant? 

The curriculum asks that you be willing to reflect on and dialogue about racism as well as explore “new ways of being.” Your attendance is vital to the group so we ask that you commit to being present at all sessions (that said, we understand that an urgent matter may take priority at some time). If your schedule would require you to miss two or more sessions, please do not register for Beloved Conversations. The Racial Equity Team will offer additional programming this fall/winter that you are welcome to participate in.

Group A
Saturdays – 10:00 am – Noon
(Baldwin Rm)
Group B
Thursdays – 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm 
(Baldwin Rm)
November 9 November 7
November 23 November 21
December 7 December 5
December 21 December 19
January 5 (tentative)
Sunday, 2:00 pm -4:00 pm
January 5  (tentative)
Sunday, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
January 18 January 16
February 1 January 30
February 15 February 13

Who will participate?

We expect to have room for all who commit to participating. In the unlikely situation that we need to limit the number of attendees, we will attempt to assure that a cross section of the congregation is represented among participants.

How do I register?

You can register by completing the short Google form here, or by calling Karin Lin at (617) 710-9581. The registration deadline is now Monday, September 9, 2019.

Need more information?

For more information about the Beloved Conversations curriculum, see here (http://www.meadville.edu/fahs-collaborative/fahs-curriculum-catalogue/beloved-conversations/).

For specific questions about Beloved Conversations at First Parish, you can speak with members of the Racial Equity Team (who can also point you to last year’s participants): Karin Lin, kslnet@yahoo.com, (617) 710-9581, and Charlene Galarneau, charlene.galarneau@gmail.com, (617) 455-8905.