This fired up the congregation to name that there were no coordinated organized UU actions or responses in the Denver Metro to the then current racial uprisings across the nation. They along with members of other local congregations publicly called the local ministers out for their inaction.
Immediately the Colorado UUs for Racial Justice Council met to answer the call. The Council began to meet bi-weekly and changed its name to Colorado UUs United for Racial Justice. Quickly, it became evident that the newly envisioned organization was in need of a few pertinent key components for successful anti-oppression ministry, specifically anti-racism work. This included a UU community BIPOC needs assessment, community accountability partnerships, deep and meaningful working and personal relationships.
Over the summer of 2020, the BIPOC members of the Council including Rev Angela Henderson, Mateo Frisk, Rev Jen Simon and Pastor AJ Blackwood offered to become the accountability partners for their white colleagues. Soon the idea of a needs assessment bubbled up with a strategy of having a UU BIPOC speakers series. The Speakers Series was held from September to December 2020.
The resulting outcome is The Mountain Top: A UU BIPOC Community.
In December 2020, hearing the continued call for support, the leadership of the newly formed ministry requested that the member congregations of UUs for Racial Justice (the then Colorado UUs United for Racial Justice) fund professional leadership for this new ministry. Rev Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry from Boulder Valley UU Fellowship took a lead in organizing an Annual Pledge structure for the congregations based on congregational size and operating budget.
January: Rev Jen Simon was hired as the half time contracted Community Minister for the newly formed The Mountain Top and coordinator of the long existing UUs for Racial Justice. The salary was based on a mid range small church, per UUA recommendation. The position has been and continues to be funded by the Denver Metro Congregations through an Annual Pledge. Prairie UU Church was designated as the employer of record and Fiscal Agent with Pastor AJ Blackwood acting as Rev Jen’s supervisor.
Summer/Fall: UURJ weekend of congregational orientation and assessment followed by congregational leadership cohorts (for example: Boards, Worship Teams etc) met to address internal bias.
July: Rev Jen Simon was hired to serve as the Associate Minister of Jefferson Unitarian Church and Pastor AJ Blackwood was hired to serve as the Community Minister of The Mountain Top UU and UUs for Racial Justice.