COIC Past Updates – 2021-22

December 20, 2022 Update

The First Parish Commission on Institutional Change (COIC) is at work on a comprehensive, multi-year review of our church’s policies, practices, and procedures — to see how we might better align them with the core UU values of equity, inclusion, and diversity

As we pursue our charge from the Standing Committee, we want to share articles and information of interest with the wider congregation. This will help us all navigate upcoming discussions about proposed changes. We invite you to begin by reading an article by the UUA’s Joe Sullivan, entitled “Liberating Governance for Our Times.

October 18, 2022 Update

The COIC sponsored our kickoff event last Sunday (Oct. 16) – a 90-minute walking tour, arranged through the Concord Visitor’s Center, and focused on the history of Afro-Americans in Concord. First Parish’s own Mary-Wren vanderWilden (School Programs Coordinator at the Concord Museum) led the tour. Even those of us who have lived here for decades learned so much.

A few examples. On the plus side, it was the women in town who were the first to push for abolition. And many were hands on in assisting the underground railroad (which supported so many enslaved people on their way to freedom). But, It also turns out that, in addition to being the home of the patriots who launched the Revolutionary War, Concord was also the first town to legalize slavery. And many of our leading thinkers (Emerson, Thoreau, others) were either slow to speak out against slavery or never did. In addition, many prominent Concord families benefited financially from the triangle slave trade. So, like many places in our country, our history is mixed.

June 27, 2022 Update

On June 25, 2022 at General Assembly, representatives of UU congregations voted in favor of an Action for Immediate Witness (AIW) that calls on members of our faith to address Anti-Racism work and Reparations NOW. 

It is a clear, direct, and powerful call from our faith to all of us to ACT.

We on the First Parish Commission on Institutional Change (COIC) ask everyone in our congregation to please take the time to read this 2- page document. The link is provided below.

AIW Anti-Racism and Reparations via Restorative Justice 2022.

We also recommend our congregants invest in the following resources:

Wilderness Journey: The Struggle for Black Empowerment and Racial Justice  (Running Time: 1:16)

Wilderness Journey is a documentary that tells the eyewitness history of the schism between Black and White UUs that dates from UUA actions taken between 1967-70.  Former First Parish minister, Dana McLean Greeley plays an important role.

April 5, 2022 Update

The First Parish Commission on Institutional Change (COIC) was established by The First Parish Standing Committee in the fall of 2021.

COIC members are: Jennipher Burgess, Peter Nobile, Ken Reeves, Toby Smith Ropeik (co-chair), Darien Smith (co-chair), Dana Snyder-Grant, Cindy Soule

The COIC’s charge from the Standing Committee reads:

The First Parish in Concord Commission on Institutional Change (FPCOIC) is charged to:

    • Assess congregational policies, practices and procedures for their alignment with our UU values of equity, inclusion, and diversity.
    • To engage First Parish members, friends and staff in identifying opportunities for systemic change that will help FPC realize itself as a place of radical welcome and anti-oppression work. 
    • To recommend action(s) that serve to dismantle white supremacy within the culture, practice, policies and procedures within FPC. 

This charge is a broad one and will require slow, deliberate, and thoughtful work over years, rather than months. Members of COIC are committed to involving the entire congregation in this work. We welcome your input. You can contact any member of COIC with your ideas and suggestions. 

If you want to begin now, we encourage everyone in the congregation to download and read the UUA report, Widening the Circle of Concern. It’s free.

You can also read more about what actions have led to this work below.