Practising the Art of Inclusion – President’s Message February 2022

from Mary Bennett, UCV Board of Trustees President

“How can we get young people involved?” is where the conversation started at our board retreat. We decided to set up a task force!

After toying with names like “Beyond Boomers” or “Generational Transformation” the board settled on the simple term “Generational Inclusion” and charged the task force with exploring what practices are required to ensure that all generations feel invited to actively engage with the important religious and spiritual work of our community. Vice-President, Bruce McIvor and I are just getting started on this work and I hope members from all 7 “living generations” will engage in this conversation.

Currently the Canadian Unitarian Council are creating video recorded interviews and hosting forum discussions to help us welcome people from diverse relationships and families, people of all dis/abilities and people of all classes. I’ve watched the first series and they’re very enlightening. I encourage you to register.

The focus on anti-racism over the past years has resulted in our own very active IBPOC affinity group as well as “IPA” – IBPOC Plus Allies team – to plan initiatives that bring to our awareness the lived experiences, heritage and culture of people of colour within our congregation. 

With the leadership of board members, Diane Brown, Bruce McIvor and Jenny Malcolm the board is beginning a journey of “decolonizing our board.”  

In 1995 we were one of the first congregations in Canada to complete the Welcoming Congregation Program which focuses on welcoming to LGBTQ plus persons. 

It’s inspirational and moving to hear the stories of people who have different lives than our own, whether because of age, race, class, abilities, gender or sexual identity and there are, as well, some simple practices we can all use in practising the art of inclusion.  

Make space; take space is now the phrase used to remind us to notice who is in the room–whether literally or on our zoom screen–and find ways to include those who for whatever reason are not being heard. 

There are well-developed methods for encouraging all voices to be heard such as dynamic governance/sociocracy and convergent facilitation. There are also everyday opportunities to simply notice frequently how much space each of us is taking and then learning a few lines to even things out when they’re out of balance.  A study I read many years ago said people who spoke a lot in a group underestimated the amount of time they talked and those who talked relatively little overestimated the time they spoke.

Back to the generational inclusion focus, did you know that Gen Z (those between age 11 and 26) is “the most diverse group – in terms of not just race, but also gender. .. It’s the most likely group to have individuals who identify as nonbinary. They expect diversity to be a top priority. That means things like gender-neutral bathrooms, equal pay for equal work, and support for racial inclusion movements. ” (Deloitte study)

Seen on instagram recently: If you’re over 45 and don’t have an under-30 mentor (not mentee) then you’re going to miss fundamental shifts in thinking that are happening. 

If you are willing to experiment with some ways to get to know the “others” in our congregation, I’d love to hear your stories about making space and taking space. If you’re under 30 and willing to be a mentor to one of us who’s over 45, I’d especially love to hear from you. 

Send me a note to president@vancouverunitarians.ca and share with me how we at UCV can continue to develop our skills in the art of inclusion. Meet all the board members at ucv.im/board and review our Covenant of Healthy Relations here ucv.im/covenant

Reference:

Here’s a summary of the 7 living generations and an analysis of UCV’s data about generational distribution at UCV. It may not be what you think!

Thanks to Keith Wilkinson for preparing this document.

Generations Table 2022-01-24


16

Categories:

Governance • Inclusion • Recent News