Beloved Conversations
Life Is Too Short To Not Talk Honestly
Beloved Conversations group, Unity Church, St. Paul, MN
Beloved Conversations: Meditations on Race and Ethnicity
Program Developed by Dr. Mark A. Hicks

In the spirit of small-group ministry (or what many call “covenant groups”), Beloved Conversations is an experiential and evocative curriculum that provides a container for exploring the spiritual and intellectual dimensions of racism in our lives.  Over eight two-hour seminars, the group encounters ways in which issues of race and ethnicity shape individual and group assumptions and, also, considers the spiritual dimensions of what is learned.   Each session poses questions that connect with both the sources of inspiration as well as the challenges of race/ethnicity that slow our human journey toward wholeness. As such, the curriculum differs from many approaches to anti-racism/multicultural work in that it frames the discussion not only in terms of demographic urgency or cultural critiques (both of which are useful to understand!), but how developing skills and the habits of an anti-racist mind helps everyone – those in dominant groups as well as those who are targets of oppression - heal from the wounds of racism. 

Topics
  • The Footprint of Racial & Ethnic History in Your Community
  • Exploring the Dynamic of Racism and Privilege
  • Racism Today:  Micro-Aggressions & Stereotype Threat
  • Congregational Audit:  What’s in Your Backpack?
  • Community Audit:  The Experience of Race & Ethnicity in your Community
  • Building Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression Skills and Competency
  • Toward a New Identity:  How Can We Be-in-the-World?
  • Collecting our Wisdom:  A Celebration of Learning and Commitment

Facilitation
After the Opening Retreat, Beloved Conversations should be facilitated by a two-person team.  When possible, we strongly suggest that the team consist of racial/ethnic and gender diversity.   Topics associated with racial/ethnic diversity often create emotional and cognitive dissonance among learners.  As a learning experience of spiritual deepening, at least one of the facilitators should be adept providing spiritual leadership  (i.e., spiritual counseling, deep listening, nurturing ambiguity, etc.).  The curriculum includes readings and specific tips that support facilitating cross-cultural conversation. 

Witness
Beloved Conversations was piloted in two UU congregations in 2010 – First Unitarian, Portland, Oregon and our congregation in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  
Here’s what they experienced: 

“One of the most beautiful aspects of Beloved Conversations was seeing its transformative potential come to bear.... I was moved to my core witnessing Unitarian Universalism come alive to members of my congregation.”  Rev. Manish Mizra-Marzetti, Senior Minister, UU Congregation at Cherry Hill

"Many [participants] said that this was the first time, or the first time in a long time, when they had been part of a conversation about race that left them hopeful. ... Out of  these conversations, we are beginning to shape a way forward to address and 'interrupt' racism is all its forms: institutional, cultural and individual."  Rev. Kate Lore, Minister for Social Justice, First Unitarian Church, Portland, OR
 
“I watched as people struggled with concepts of privilege, institutional racism and stereotyping in ways they hadn’t until that point. More importantly, I witnessed most staying fully engaged despite that struggle. Jennifer Kelleher, Intern Minister, UU Congregation at Cherry Hill
Schedule Beloved Conversations in Your Congregation or Community!
As a facilitated experience of faith formation, Beloved Conversations requires attention to a wide range of intellectual, psychological and developmental factors.  By purchasing the curriculum, you also receive a 1.5 day retreat, facilitated by a member of our staff, to begin the work.  Your purchase also includes five hours of coaching services to help you and your congregation respond to the dynamics that unfold. 
 
Curriculum/Retreat Pricing Schedule*

Congregation: Small (1-149 members) $1,350 - $1,850
Congregation: Mid-size (150-499 members) $1,700 - $2,200
Congregation: Large (Over 500 members) $2,200 - $3,000
Districts and Clusters of Congregations $2,500 - $3,000
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Included in the price:
  • Beloved Conversations Curriculum
  • Retreat: 12 hours of intensive, in-person, work-shopping with an authorized facilitator
  • 5 hours of coaching 

*In addition to the price for the curriculum and retreat, congregations should anticipate additional costs for miscellaneous retreat expenses and travel and housing costs for the facilitator. All proceeds (beyond coaching fees, travel and lodging) are returned to the Fahs Collaborative for development of future learning experiences that expand the sense of human possibility. 

 
To schedule Beloved Conversations, click here to register your interest.  You will be contacted by Mark Hicks to work out a schedule and specific pricing.  
 
For more information, contact Dr. Hicks, Director of the Fahs Collaborative.