September 2017 – Welcoming Versus Othering
Annika Pfluger | Apr 04, 2018 Albany UU Inclusivity Team logo

September 2017 Inclusivity Team Order of Service Insert.

Download the PDF of this insert. (full text below)

Welcoming Versus Othering

“In our hands is the power to craft a compelling narrative of extraordinary respect…of welcome and transformational community for our Unitarian Universalist present and future.”
-Rev. Alicia Forde

What is White Supremacy?

Why “white supremacy” as the term here? It conjures up images of hoods and mobs. Here, we mean: “White supremacy as a set of insti-tutional assumptions and practices, often operating unconsciously, that tend to benefit white people and exclude people of color.” In 2017, actual “white supremacists” are not required in order to uphold white supremacist culture. Building a faith full of people who understand that key distinction is essential as we work toward a more just society in difficult political times.

Welcoming versus Othering: Basic Intercultural Hospitality

Download the Welcoming versus Othering handout.

Say This:
Q: Hi, I haven’t met you, my name is…

Instead Of:
Q: Hi! You must be new.

Say This:
Q: Welcome!
A: Hi, I just moved here from Chicago.
Q: I love Chicago. I’m from Portland. I moved here for a job. What brought you here?

Instead Of:
Q: Where are you from?
A: Chicago
Q. No, I meant, where are you really from?
Q: (keeps going until visitor claims a foreign ancestry)

Say This:
Q: What a lovely necklace. Is there a story connected with it?

Instead Of:
Q: Your hair is really cool. Can I touch it? (or worse, touch without asking)

Say This:
Q: Is there any kind of group I can connect you to? We have a wide variety!

Instead Of:
Q: Come meet our other trans-gender person!

Say This:
Q: What lovely children! May I introduce you to our Director of Religious Education?

Instead Of:
Q: They don’t look like you—are they adopted? Are they your real children? Did you use a sperm donor?

Say This:
Q: What did you think of the worship service? I loved the story.

Instead Of:
Q: What college did/do you go to? What do you do for a living?

Say This:
Q: Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to make your visit better.

Instead Of:
Q: I see you have a disability, here let me help you.

Some More Tips on Welcoming

Reflect on what calls you to be welcoming to all who enter your congregation. What faith value are you practicing?

Greet everyone who comes though the doorway, not just new people.

Enjoy the gifts found in inviting and listening.

Notice when you make an assumption and intentionally set that assumption aside.

Remember everyone has multiple identities and refrain from fo-cusing on any one identity you notice or assume.

Ask open ended questions and respect people choosing not to answer.

Refrain from asking personal questions, including theology. People will reveal what they are ready to reveal.

Let the guest take the lead!

Start a conversation from a shared experience-like the morning’s worship.

Find language that is inclusive including language that doesn’t assume all children have a mother and a father or live with their parents, or everyone is either a man or a woman, etc.

Forgive yourself for any blunders or awkwardness. Apologize if needed and accept being human.

Help spread these practices-inviting, listening, rejecting assump-tions-throughout the congregation.

This is just a step. There is always more ways we can become more welcoming and inclusive.

Want to Learn More?

by Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray

by Kenny Wiley

by Dr. Robin Diangelo