(Sent to UCM email list on 9-22-21) We are writing to provide you updates in response to recent inquiries we’ve had as the academic year got underway. Due to the COVID pandemic, UCM became less active in the community than usual and the building was only open on a limited basis. The rise of the Delta variant continues to restrict us from opening fully, however we continue to offer carry-out versions of our free meal programs: Thursday Supper and Saturday Lunch. Later this semester, we will be hosting mission-driven spiritual growth and social justice discussion programs outside or online. Internally, the Board of Directors has been working on personnel transitions and reaching out to some of you as part of our process of re-envisioning what UCM will look like moving forward. This internal work continues and will be expanding this semester. 

We’ve also had inquiries related to concerns that two former UCM staff members raised about Lacey Rogers’s experiences while she was employed as Assistant Director and Interim Director. Due to legal and human resource policy restrictions, we cannot share specifics or share the Board’s assessment regarding the matter. We understand that this may not be a suitable response to some, however it is our reality at this time. 

Board of Directors, individually and collectively, are committed to further examining systemic racism and associated biases and attitudes in our lives, in society, and at UCM. Our goals in undertaking this work are to make UCM a better employer for all employees and a stronger social justice advocate in the future. Our first step in this thoughtful process of change is to hire a diversity and inclusion consulting group to work with us for the remainder of the academic year and longer if necessary. We anticipate this consultation will involve several trainings, book readings, discussions, assessments, and policy enhancements. We are making inquiries of who will best serve our needs in this role and we will share more details once we secure a consulting group. 

Presently, the Board of Directors is a group of six volunteers, but we hope to increase the size of the board to the past standard of 10-12 members over the next two years. As we grow the board, we will do so with a greater focus on diversity: race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, class, and faith tradition. Our focus is on the betterment of UCM, its mission, and its future. We invite you to be part of this work. If you are interested in being part of a re-envisioning listening session, ecumenical and interfaith discussions, social justice discussions, potential board membership, or volunteer opportunities, email us at connect@ucmathens.org

UCM is an old organization with deep community roots and a long history of spiritual growth support and social justice advocacy, yet with an ever-rotating board and staff UCM is simultaneously an organization in a state of constant learning and growth reflective of our society. With a little grace, this upcoming period in UCM’s history will be about learning, un-learning, and re-learning in regard to a host of diversity and inclusion topics—most especially race. We appreciate your patience, involvement, and on-going support.

Sincerely,

Shannon Stewart – Chair, Barb Harrison – Vice Chair, Nancy Pierce – Treasurer, Natalie Wilson – Secretary, Chris Quolke – Member, Katherine Jellison – Member

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