For me, Beloved Community means creating the space where everyone can be their whole selves, not just those who are already here; where no one feels the need to hide a part of their identity, or who they really are, to be accepted into our church community. A first step can be practicing the radical welcome we speak about in the opening greeting for our Sunday services.
My daughter recently shared notes from a sermon by Xr. Alex Kapitan, presented to her UU congregation in Gainesville (Florida). They helped me understand what is meant by radical welcome.
Invitation is simply an open door. All are welcome unless you need something the congregation doesn’t provide, such as a wheelchair ramp, a scent-free environment, or closed captions.
Inclusion is a desire for diversity, but the burden is on those from marginalized groups to fit in. Incorporation is the congregation’s goal.
Invitation and inclusion are actually barriers to radical welcome. They don’t require change. They don’t ask the congregation to move beyond its comfort zone.
Radical welcome is much more than friendliness. It’s what happens when we are willing to change and to be transformed by relationships across lines of difference. We seek out ways for marginalized groups to fully participate in the life of the congregation, and everyone helps shape the mission,
so that the congregation is constantly being made anew.
For everyone, all of who you are as a person belongs here.