Commissioned by a congregation in need of resources to hold its members in covenant as they learned how race and ethnicity shapes their spiritual and social lives, Beloved Conversations: Meditations on Race and Ethnicity is now serving more than 140 UU, Jewish and Quaker congregations across the United States. 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. In addition, the curriculum's third edition (2017) offers real-time faith formation resources explicitly for People of Color, as well as organizational support for making institutional change.
Beloved Conversations: Meditations on Race and Ethnicity recognizes how centuries of racially informed social, emotional and spiritual practices wound every person, no matter their racial and/or ethnic identity. Nested in the healing and deep work of faith formation, the curriculum calls each participant to reckon with how both their personal and group experiences matter and, when less-than-desirable outcomes are named, how to live and act in a spirit of reconciliation that brings growth and spiritual healing.
The program begins with a 1.5 day retreat that launches the curriculum, followed by 8 weeks of guided experiential exercises. Participant must attend the retreat plus the following eight sessions. Each of the eight week sessions takes two hours to complete, and is highly structured in order to push and support the learning of the assembled community. The retreat is facilitated by an official staff person from Fahs Collaborative, but the following eight sessions are facilitated by a two-person facilitation team chosen by the congregation. The work is done in small groups of 10-12 participants. Strategies are available for congregations who want to host larger groups or multiple small-groups at the same time.
The teaching and learning materials are based in the best practices of multicultural and arts-infused education, using a variety of teaching strategies that promote leaning across style, demographics, preferences and dispositions. Each session poses evocative questions that help the learner 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.
Congregations who purchase the curriculum are granted exclusive rights to use the curriculum which includes coaching for facilitators and access to digital training videos for facilitators and congregational leadership.
The third version of the curriculum (3.0) includes cutting edge materials that support the different learning needs of people of color and white congregants. As part of the intake process, our staff will help you explore how to respond to such dynamics in besfore, during and after the sessions.
To schedule an Information Session, contact our Congregational Coordinator at BelovedConversations@meadville.edu. The Coordinator will be able to discuss congregational readiness for this particular curriculum, staffing, pricing (on a sliding scale), and possible dates for a retreat. Our experiences suggest that planning begin at least four months prior to the Opening Retreat.