Ours is a Beloved Community
what is beloved community?
The term was coined by Josiah Royce in the early twentieth century, but since then it has taken on various identities. At WUCC we understand Beloved Community in the way expressed by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1956 when, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down bus segregation, he was asked about the goal or end of the Civil Rights Movement:
“The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of [people].”
why beloved community?
God’s love, known in the Greek as agape, is by its nature a love that brings us into relationship with one another, not as those similar in every way but rather as those marked by important difference and uniqueness. Dr. King once wrote,
”Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the ‘fight with fire’ method which you suggest is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community. Physical force can repress, restrain, coerce, destroy, but it cannot create and organize anything permanent; only love can do that. Yes, love—which means understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill, even for one’s enemies…”
what does beloved community look like?
There are really two answers. First, spiritual Beloved Community.
Foundational to Christian theology is the belief that we are the recipients of divine grace, not because of anything we have done or will do, but rather as a result of God’s innate, abundant goodness. We receive this grace through individual faith—which, at WUU, is understood in dynamic, expansive ways—and experience God’s transformative love. We understand ourselves to be beloved of God. In Beloved Community, we are vulnerable enough to bring our whole selves; not so that we can be made to conform, but so that we may present ourselves as wonderfully made and radically loved. We do Beloved Community by having difficult conversations; through being seen and heard, relying upon God’s grace to open our eyes so that we may see the image of God in everyone we meet.
A refuge in the most unexpected place.
Second, embodied Beloved Community.
When we receive God’s grace through faith, each one of us is gifted with fruits of the Spirit. In Beloved Community, each person should be supported and affirmed in what God calls them to do and to be. Embodied Beloved Community means understanding that everyone is not the same, that our experiences, race, gender-identity, sexuality, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and a whole host of other factors contribute to our understandings of God and self. We must live our diversity.
Beloved Community means understanding that all bodies and minds do not work the same way, and that it is the responsibility of the community to create and sustain space that is accessible and comfortable. Right now, WUCC is not handicap accessible because we have an old building, a small congregation, and we put a vast majority of our money into our ministries. We realize this lack of accessibility is problematic, and we are committed to discerning solutions. We seek partners to help do so.