brooksby Rev. Jennifer Brooks.

We UUs have a passion for social justice, and a desire to be welcoming to all who enter our doors. Yet sometimes, even with these wonderful intentions, we aren’t as welcoming as we’d like to be. It happened to me just a few months ago, when I was very new at UUCF.

During our worship services, we sang “De Colores,” including the one verse in Spanish. Afterward, a number of congregants said how much they welcomed the chance to sing in Spanish and that Spanish was in fact their first language. Another member noted, gently, that I’d joked about “doing our best” with the Spanish, thus implying that none of us would be comfortable with it. I was wrong, and here’s why.

I’m a white American whose first language is English. My background shaped my perspective and led to my comment. If I’d known more of the people at UUCF, as I do now, and if I’d known them well enough to know their invisible stories, I would not have made that comment.

Knowing each other more personally and more deeply – where we come from, what shapes us and what our struggles have been – can only benefit our religious community. We need see one another’s inner truth; we may long for our truth to be truly visible to others.

This is the premise behind our “Exploring Diversity” Dinners. The concept is to bring together four individuals four times to explore more deeply the differences in their individual stories. When they meet over dinner (or lunch, or breakfast, or afternoon tea), a discussion guide will invite each group to consider their personal differences including everything from racial identity and country of origin to gender identity, avocation, theology and ability.

We want each group of four to be as diverse as possible, so we need lots of you to sign up. Filling out this form will help us gauge how best to match up the groups.

UUCF’s lay leaders and professional religious leaders have heard from so many of you over the last few years that embracing diversity should be a priority here. We hope your commitment to realizing this aspiration will impel you to take part in this opportunity to explore our diversity together.