Last week I attended an invitational meeting at Starr King School for the Ministry (UU) of the first local iteration of the Table to Action Project. This project is co-sponsored by Auburn Theological Seminary in NYC (where I have presented and served on panels for several years, with, among others Judy Harrow, Katrina Messenger, and Grove Harris, in case you happen to know those Witches in interfaith) and the Arcus Foundation. I really didn’t know quite what to expect, except for this description on the invitation:
that seeks to bring together faith and moral leaders from across the landscape of the social justice sector to build an activist community and network grounded in right relationship.
Our goal is to craft a blueprint for multi-issue organizing that presses past transactional and competitive ways of working and being together toward a vision of progressive organizing that can allow us to stand with and for each other in honesty, truth and compassion other over the long haul.
When I checked the website, I found that I had engaged with several of the key people over the years, at both Auburn and MountainTop about which I’ve blogged. I was glad to have another opportunity to engage with the convener, Lisa Anderson, her colleague in Atlanta, Melvin Bray, and Gabriella Lettini of SKSM.
The first meeting was held in Chicago, the second in Atlanta, and this was the third. They plan more in other cities, which is where you, my Pagan colleagues, come in. I will be asked for suggestions of participants. So if and when one of these meetings takes place in your area, I can let them know of your interest.
About half of those 20 religious leaders at last night’s meeting were POC and the majority seemed to be (some said, some didn’t) LGBTQ folks. There was one Muslim, several Jews, and lots of Protestants. Evidently two participants were Buddhists, but I didn’t hear them state that. Needless to say, this collaboration needs more diversity among its participants. Same problem at MountainTop — a noticeable absence of Catholics, Buddhists, and Hindus, much less Pagans.
I spoke to the convener, Lisa Anderson, about that observation, and disappointment, at MountainTop (also co-sponsored by Auburn) as well as at Table to Action. She said they were well aware and wished to remedy that. So for the next meeting in this area I will be inviting some Catholics, Buddhists, and Hindus whom I know in local interfaith. Maybe a Pagan or two as well.
To be clear, there were four Witches at the first MountainTop in 2013, which I consider a more than adequate representation. Evidently there were others at the second MountainTop gathering; I did not attend.
I also mentioned this observation to Dr. Lettini, the local host, who told me the same thing I heard after MountainTop, which is that others were invited and for whatever reasons were unable to attend.
I told both Lisa and Gabriella that I was surprised, because in my experience in local interfaith, my friends from the Roman Catholic Dominican Sisters of San Rafael are among the most committed activists. So are my friends and colleagues at Green Gulch Zen Center, Spirit Rock (Vipassana), and other local Buddhist groups.
It’s tricky to address the organizers about these omissions or unbalances without seeming critical and ungrateful. I did, though, and they were very receptive. (If I’m not good for anything else, I can really network well.)
So for our next meeting I’m soliciting one or more of my Catholic interfaith colleagues, whom I know would be a good addition to the mix. By that I mean they’re open-hearted and caring, accepting of diversity and not hesitant to work.
I’m eager to see what Table to Action does and to participate to the extent that a congregation-less Pagan can. That said, I thank the Covenant of the Goddess (an assembly of smaller congregations called covens) for financial support for my more distant interfaith activities.