Fall 2023 Update
As we embark on exciting new opportunities for The Mountain Top and UUs for Racial Justice with the transition from Rev Jen to Pastor AJ, we would like to express our deep and abiding gratitude for your unequivocal support as a Pledging Partner Congregation for The Mountain Top (TMT) and UUs for Racial Justice (UURJ).
As you know, The Mountain Top is a unique space designed with love to create a pastoral and healing experience for all who attend, whether you are BIPOC or a family member of a BIPOC member, or a UUs for Racial Justice ally, this is a space to co-create a more equitable environment for our BIPOC siblings with our congregations by reflecting on, addressing, and transforming our congregations and rooting out racial bias.
All of this culminated in a call for help and healing by our UU BIPOC siblings.
We asked and you answered.
We literally can not do it without your support.
- Your generous financial pledges speak volumes about your hearts and your commitment to creating equitable, brave sanctuary environments, where a high tide raises all ships.
- Your commitment to show up, provide feedback, hold challenging conversations, and do “the work” at all congregational levels, whether it be staff, leadership, or congregational members, shows our siblings, both BIPOC and White, that we are committed to widening our circle of liberation for all.
- Your emotional support holds us so we can continue to show up gracefully for one another with compassion and care.
We are here because you are here!
This beautiful experiment was birthed out of a tragedy in the wake of the murders of George Floyd and Elijah McClain, and in the midst of not only a global pandemic, but also racial unrest across the US. In December 2020, your congregation pledged to and funded a BIPOC Religious Professionals Speakers Series, which was targeted to offer support for our Front Range BIPOC UUs. This offering had some real unexpected consequences that reached far beyond Colorado and called together our UU BIPOC siblings from across the US, and even reached into the UK and Pacific Islands.
This resulted in the pledges we have received from the partnering congregations, of which you are a member, to fund TMT. Reflecting on the outcry of our BIPOC siblings, in January 2021, the nine Pledging Congregations and one community organization pledged to fund a half-time BIPOC minister with a base salary equal to that of the UUA guideline’s minimum for a small church.
Recognizing that until BIPOC communities receive sustainable and consistent spiritual nourishment, we will all continue to experience an imbalance in our beloved community, and after a cohort of team meetings by our Religious Professionals where the solutions of how to create a greater impact for all became evident, the fund was set up with Prairie UU Church as the fiscal sponsor for programs and employer of record with Rev Jen Simon, brought on board as the Community Minister of TMT and Facilitator of UURJ.
We continued with weekly UURJ Religious Professional meetings, and embarked on providing two monthly evening worship services for TMT and monthly programming for UURJ. These pledges continue to make it possible for us to create the beautiful community that is now The Mountain Top, along with UURJ that now has a reach of over 800 people around the world.
In 2022, we transitioned both of these funds to First Unitarian Society of Denver, and in 2023 we transitioned the minister’s compensation fund and employer of record for Rev Jen to BridgesUU as a staff employee. We have moved into the model where BridgesUU (which has BIPOC leadership and board members), is now taking on TMT and UURJ as the organization administrator, with the TMT Steering Committee at the helm.
Where We Are
“We are a Unitarian Universalist organization of Black, Indigenous and
People of Color (BIPoC) and mixed race/multiracial individuals.
We meet to worship and enjoy fellowship with other UUs of color.” – TMT
With the transition of Rev Jen to full-time ministry at Jefferson Unitarian Church, Pastor AJ Blackwood has taken the lead position of Community Minister of The Mountain Top and Facilitator of UURJ. Pastor AJ is taking time to reach out to both TMT and UURJ community leaders and members to get acquainted with this new role.
Some of you may have been present virtually or in person at First Universalist last month as we embarked on the next chapter of TMT, as Pastor AJ and his loving leadership moved into the pulpit, and Rev Jen continues her journey with an exciting, expanding ministry at Jefferson Unitarian Church.
We are developing a Youth outreach program and investigating more actionable activities on how to expand our services within the two communities that honor the BIPOC caucus space, and also bring all of our siblings together for shared experiences, both in person and on-line, with more events similar to “Getting Free Together,” where we all shared a meal, enjoyed a BIPOC-centered worship service, and engaged in caucus-based discussion on September 19, 2023 with our siblings from DRUUMM.
For those fortunate enough to have experienced this inspiring, joyful, spiritually fulfilling service, you know the power TMT has and the opportunity for impact. It was an affirmation of what you all created and continue to co-create. It is infectious and we all win!
We ALL have a stake in the joy and nurturing of every one
of our UU siblings, BIPOC or otherwise.
We are hosting the following ZOOM meetings:
- TMT: Two Sunday evenings on the 2nd and 4th Sundays, and two leadership meetings each month.
- UURJ: Two monthly Religious Professionals meetings, and one general community meeting each month.
Our Visioning, Programs and Operations are transitioning and we are happy to report we are creating three new teams, making this a much more sustainable endeavor; no longer just aspirational, but now achievable!
We are transitioning our TMT Steering Committee to move away from ALL the work of governance of TMT to a Vision and Values Team that will be able to focus on the Mission, Vision, Outreach, and Programming for TMT, and better address the accountability concerns raised within the TMT membership to our UURJ communities. We have established a TMT Policy team composed of BIPOC religious professionals from the BridgesUU Governance Team, who will oversee the finances and other operational aspects of TMT. UURJ will continue to be under the direction of our UURJ Religious Professionals. Pastor AJ sits ex-officio on all teams.
With BridgesUU as our administrator, we are now moving to professional accounts for just about everything. In the past, most of the systems we have been using were personal, including Rev Jen’s personal zoom, free google accounts, and a variety of accounts shared by a dozen or so people and organizations. It is all being pooled together under the BridgesUU umbrella. We have been scrubbing data to get administrative components together in one place. This is why you may be seeing things such as event invitations and notices you haven’t seen in the past, and unfortunately some items, announcements, and notices have been coming late and possibly not as clearly as I’d like due to the transition.
Additionally, and most importantly, we now have limited and blessed access to the BridgesUU administrator, Geneys Landry.
As happens anytime that there is a leadership change, with Pastor AJ now taking on the TMT Community Minister and UURJ facilitator roles, he will be engaging TMT and UURJ leadership and community members in uplifting the successes of the current TMT and UURJ offerings, redesigning offerings that are not working to their full potential, and expanding offerings to be more inclusive of our siblings that are not currently at the table.
We are growing, and excited about the future by expanding our ways of addressing the needs of our BIPOC siblings in congregational life and experiences at TMT, as well as developing new ways of approaching and eradicating White Supremacy through participation with UURJ.
During the coming year and going forward, we will be intentionally reaching out to all of our siblings to grow both our TMT and UURJ communities.
- planning to add a Youth Service early 2024. This programming will be Youth-centered in Denver Metro with Multi-platform options. Adults will be welcomed to witness,
- exploring more spaces of intersectionality with systematic oppressions that are extensions of White Supremacy culture, such as Homophobia, Reproductive Justice, and Ableism,
- developing more multiplatform events, giving our siblings more time to connect in-person as well as virtually,
- creating new communication channels on social media and a redesigned website,
- reaching out to more congregations to increase their commitments in all areas ~ Time, Talent and Treasure.
- We are changing our language and transitioning our Sunday worship services to “Sunday Celebrations” to be more inclusive of our non-theist siblings.
- We are changing our meeting time from 6:30 pm MT to 6:00 pm MT to address concerns raised by our siblings on the East Coast.
- On the third Sunday of the month, we will be offering an ALL siblings time together each month.
- We are in the planning stages of hosting an additional Youth Sunday evening time together.
- We are redesigning the goals and strategies of our times together, providing more opportunity for dialogue.
Our theme for 2023-2024
This year we will be engaging in a “Love as …” Series. In anticipation of the vote on Article II of the UUA Bylaws in June 2024, each month, we will be reflecting on one the categories of Love presented by the UUA Article II Commission.
We are instituting a new BIPOC Chaplains program with BIPOC religious professionals, offering Spiritual and Pastoral Care to our BIPOC siblings.
Our Times Together
- Sundays 6:00 pm MT
- 2nd Sunday: TMT Community Celebration: Designed to focus on communal, ritual, and spiritual practice. We share approximately 45 minutes of programmed time, followed by an extended check-in and discussion.
- 3rd Sunday: TMT and UURJ Community Celebration: We are excited to announce a trial run of a joint service with SepulvedaUU in Los Angeles, lead by The Rev Gordon Clay Bailey, who identifies as Jamaican American, along with TMT leadership teams. This is an All Siblings time together. We will gather for “worship” and host breakout caucus spaces for our BIPOC and White siblings for check-in and discussion.
- 4th Sunday: TMT Community Gathering: Designed to focus on relationships and spiritual and pastoral care. We host an extended check-in and discussion centering around personal stories often related to personal, work, and congregational life, BIPOC siblings healing from trauma, celebrating milestones, and celebrating our wholeness.
- Wednesdays 1:00 pm MT
- 1st Wednesday: TMT Vision and Values Team: Designed to discuss the vision, right relations, and overall ministry of TMT and its relationship with UURJ and membership.
- 2nd Wednesday: UURJ Religious Professionals: Designed to discuss the vision and mission of UURJ, sharing best practices and missteps by responding to TMT programming, celebrations, requests and needs.
- 3rd Wednesday: TMT Vision and Values Team: Designed to discuss the Sundays, special events programming, and expansion of TMT services and offerings.
- 4th Wednesday: UURJ Religious Professionals: Designed to discuss White Supremacy through relationship-building by reflecting on what it means to be in a healthy relationship as religious professionals. We will be modeling how to host conversations that deepen relationships that will assist with dismantling White Supremacy; encouraging transparency, dismantling hierarchy, sharing resources, being prepared for response to traumatic events and more.
- Wednesday 6:00 pm MT
- 4th Wednesday: UURJ Community Gathering: Designed to discuss White Supremacy and develop actionable ways to dismantle it in our congregations, focusing on congregational systems, racial biases, microaggressions, and more.
Co-Creating is a Commitment
“We are committed to doing the internal work of rooting out racial bias within the congregation
systems and congregational life. We make a pledge to The Mountain Top UU as a form
of reparations for harm we as UUs have perpetuated upon our BIPOC siblings in the past.” – UURJ
As you can see, we are growing into our vision. We have had a fantastic start and committed leadership who are continuing to build the beloved community through our TMT and UURJ offerings and services. As our accountability partners through UURJ, your commitment of time and talent and financial support makes all of this possible. We hold one another in sacred space as we grow our impact across the entire UU world.
Your financial support makes it possible for us to actively engage over 800 of our siblings
around the world, of which 300 identify as BIPOC and almost 500 are located in the Front Range.
We thank you for your support and ask that your community consider making or increasing your pledge to support our collective liberation and create the world we all want to live in.
Our 2023-2024 Pledging Communities
Boulder Valley UU Fellowship
First Unitarian Society of Denver
First Universalist Church of Denver
Jefferson Unitarian Church
Prairie UU Church
UU Church of Boulder
Our Professional Team
Pastor AJ Blackwood, TMT Community Minister and UURJ Facilitator
Geneys Landry, BridgesUU Administrator
Piper Perry, TMT and UURJ Communications (Volunteer)
|Vision and Values Team|
Rev Angela Henderson
Rev Gordon Clay Bailey
Rev Jen Simon
Rev Angela Henderson
Rev Gordon Clay Bailey
Rev Jen Simon
Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of the Leadership if you have comments, questions or concerns. We welcome it all and look forward to serving our community in deep and meaningful ways together!