Opening Words from Sun. August 26 by Norm Eisenberg

Good morning! Welcome to our welcoming home for Humanists.

So, are you a Humanist, or even a religious Humanist? Maybe you are here at least partly because you enjoy being with like-minded people. That’s what new members often tell us.

Our website, and that of our national American Ethical Union, says that, “Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”

But surely, the St. Louis community includes many more people than our few hundred members, who share a humanistic outlook, but don’t belong to any congregation. Maybe just not interested, no matter what, but some others would thrive here if they just found us.

Our increased outreach lately has brought us new members and a larger profile in the St. Louis community, but in a couple of respects our membership look has not changed much.

That is, in spite of some trends to the contrary, we still look basically… kind of old… and kind of white.

Honestly, that’s not what most of us want. What can we do?

Looking for answers, we are making a new, focused effort to spread the welcome mat, especially to those who are now obviously underrepresented.

One part of this effort is our new “Diversity and Inclusion” committee.

This committee will:

  1. Recommend strategies and resources that encourage diversity and inclusion in the Society’s programming and operations;
  2. Monitor the Society’s progress toward achieving greater diversity and inclusion in our membership, programming, outreach, and participation in our various activities.

The committee chair is Scott Wright, with members Samantha White, Kristen Rosen, Chinn Zou, and me. If you are here, please stand.

So, how do we make it happen? I, for one, would like to ensure that we often have speakers for Platform and 9:45 Forum who would be of interest to that wider audience; and we should reflect these diversity objectives on our Website and the printed materials that we provide for visitors, especially those who come by for non-Sunday events.

But really, we need EVERYONE’S creativity to help us make it abundantly clear that we welcome enthusiastically anyone with Humanist leanings. Please, tell us your ideas, including people you know of who could enhance our programming.

Now, speaking at least for just myself, yes, I think that increased diversity would make the Society an even better place. But beyond that, I believe we actually have an obligation to get the word out that we are a singular community asset for Humanists, right here in the middle of the St. Louis area.

I fear that one reason we are not as race or ethnic, and age diverse as we could be is that some like-minded Humanists take a look at us, including our surroundings, and wrongly conclude that they would not really be welcome.

My friends, there should be NO doubt that we truly want to share our community and make it attractive to ANYONE who would appreciate a humanist home. In fact, the membership qualifications in our by-laws are pretty simple: Any person of reputable character and in sympathy with the general purposes, principles and aims of the Ethical Culture Movement…

That’s it.

So on behalf of our Committee, I ask again that ALL of us get creative and step up our game to ensure that we can make the missing connections to many more of those like-minded folks.
Thank you.

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.