University Congregational United Church of Christ, 2022

Seattle, Washington

To deeply integrate worship and other congregational activities so that the church’s engagement of cross-cultural relationships, education, justice, and collaboration weaves seamlessly with worship.

Summarize your grant project and how it will address a need in your worshiping community. 

University Congregational (UCUCC) is committed to an Ubuntu spirit, calling us to deeper cross-cultural relationships and being accountable to impacted communities. We seek to expand our understanding of faith and our place in the world through worship, education, coalition building and collaboration with BIPOC and Womanist organizations in Seattle.

What two questions might you ask about worship in the coming year that will generate theological reflection and shape your project? 

How do we as a PWI create worship that honors the experiences and leadership of people of color, works to dismantle racism at interpersonal, institutional, and systemic levels, and embodies the gospel calling to build God's beloved community? 

How does our worship foster a sense of cultural appreciation and not cultural appropriation or cultural consumerism? 

How will your project impact the worship life and habits of the congregation?

The Ubuntu project engages our practices around worship, Christian formation, justice work and collaboration. We expect to see a community that is growing in cultural competency. Our pastoral staff is multiracial and we often invite worship leaders of color as guests. We know our community needs to expand our understanding of ourselves, cultivate cross-cultural awareness and experiences, and work to address systemic issues of racism within our congregation and community. By cultivating a spirit of Ubuntu through relational partnerships, we expand our congregational capacity for multicultural worship. 

What might be your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)?

This project reflects an ongoing commitment of the community we want our congregation to become. We are seeking to clarify our own identity so that when we show up with others and when new people engage with us we are able to foster authentic relationships rooted in justice. One challenge is that this work invites a level of accountability some will struggle to hear. Another challenge is to see our opportunities through the grant as single-event experiences rather than a collective vision. 

What do you hope to learn from the Grants Event and other grant recipients?

We are excited to see how worship informs other expressions of the congregational community. We are looking for innovative expressions of worship, particularly as churches have responded and pivoted due to Covid-19.