before the start of Black History Month, Lauren Smith was ordained as a
minister of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in a ceremony
at the Arlington Street Church on Boylston Street. Participating in the
Jan. 27 ceremony of Smith, one of growing number of Unitarian
Universalist ministers of color, was the Rev. William G. Sinkford, the
UUA’s first African American president.
has been a predominantly white denomination, we now find ourselves
blessed with more than 50 seminarians or recently fellowshipped
ministers of color,” said Sinkford.
Currently serving as an assistant minister in California, Smith is a
fifth-generation African American UU, with family ties to First Parish
Cambridge, Follen Church Society in Lexington, as well as First Church
Roxbury, a UU congregation rooted in the heart of the black community.
Arlington Street Church, Smith’s home congregation since 1997, has been
deeply involved in issues of social justice over many decades,
including civil rights, anti-war activism, and women’s and
gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender (GLBT) rights.
In a letter to the Arlington Street Church’s congregants prior to her
ordination, Smith reflected on her unique role as a minister of color.
“The ministry to which I feel called is a marriage of two great
religious traditions. The black church has always had as one its core
purposes the reconstitution of black selfhood and community,” she
wrote. “From the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King to Malcolm X, black
spiritual leaders have led the community in discovering pathways to
spiritual survival in the face of oppression. Our UU faith has its own
legacy of liberating theology, grounded as it is in the notion that
every human being is an expression of the divine.”