Dear UU Church of the Brazos Valley, by Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray

Dear UU Church of the Brazos Valley,

As I look out my window at the changing leaves, I am reminded of how constant change is. As Octavia Butler writes, “Change is the one unavoidable, irresistible, ongoing reality of the universe.” I am grateful for these words in a time like this when the need for change—and the need to practice new ways of being—is not only urgent, but exciting and promising. Because we need change—deep, systemic change across our society. And the work of this change begins within ourselves and our own congregations. A key roadmap for the continued institutional change work we are doing at the UUA is the Commission on Institutional Change’s report, Widening the Circle of Concern. This report is critically important for all Unitarian Universalists. This is why we have made it available for purchase as a book, e-book, or for free on The Commission on Institutional Change (COIC) completed their report in February 2020, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, everything that has come to pass during this pandemic has only reinforced how urgently we are in need of transformation. As the Commissioners write: This crisis has revealed the disparities that exist at all levels for the well-being for Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color as well as for LGBTQ individuals, people living with limited economic means, and people living with disabilities. Addressing them within our faith becomes more important, not less. The UUA is embarking on the next phase of this journey and has formed a working group to guide the implementation of the COIC report. We invite you to work together with us and imagine creative ways your congregation can take up these important practices for culture change.

Widening the Circle is joyful change work that’s deeply rooted in our shared UU theology.

We are also excited to announce the upcoming release of a Study/Action Guide to accompany the report! Many of you are looking for ways to bring the hard work and findings of the COIC into the life of your congregation or UU community. This new guide outlines 11 sessions for a group or taskforce in your congregation to break down the various components and recommendations of the original report. More than a discussion guide, this Study/Action Guide provides framing and helpful hints on how your community can actively participate in transformative liberation. Widening the Circle is joyful change work that’s deeply rooted in our shared UU theology. We hope that engaging this guide offers your community an opportunity for meaningful connection during this time of isolation. Many thanks to the Commissioners and professional group leaders who came together quickly to develop this additional resource. Visit to access the guide. You can sign up for an email list that will send updates on new learning opportunities, resources, and insights as we continue the work of co-creating a transformative faith. In this season of turning and change, marked by so much heartbreak and loss, I continue to be inspired by all the ways Unitarian Universalists just like you are actively showing up for liberating change within our faith community and with our larger communities and planet. There is hope to be found in doing the work of love and justice. Everything you do, and the work we are doing together, is a great source of my hope during this time.

Yours in love, Susan

Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray spends her days strengthening the thriving mission of this faith. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family and playing with their dog, Hercules.

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The Rev. Christian Schmidt is our interim minister, and first became a Unitarian Universalist in this congregation where he was an active member from 2006-2009. He has since served congregations in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California. His interests include his family (including four little boys he and his wife are raising), sports, and theology.