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Meet a trustee: Clyde Grubbs
In 1961, Clyde Grubbs
attended the first assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association
as a member of Liberal Religious Youth
Fifty years later, as the UUA
marked its 50th anniversary, the General Assembly elected the Rev. Clyde Grubbs as a member of its Board of Trustees.
brings to the position a range of perspectives.
Grubbs, a lifelong UU, is a former parish minister who now serves in community ministry.
He is also a Cherokee and serves as co-president of DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries), a UU organization for people of color.
has a particular interest in governance issues.
"Governance is the way we create goals together and hold ourselves responsible for those goals," said Grubbs
"I can contribute to that because I have pretty deep ties with important sections of the UUA-the people of color community, the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association
and a lot of ministers, and I've served congregations in several parts of the country."
has ministered to congregations in Indiana, Texas, Florida, and California, in addition to Québec, Canada. Grubbs lives near Boston now, in Revere, Mass., but he
experience serving congregations around the country helps him bring to the board a sensitivity for the needs of congregations in very different places.
Grubbs was not actively seeking a seat on the Board of Trustees.
was helping to recruit board members, asking UUA volunteers if they would consider serving on the board.
People repeatedly told him that he
should consider taking a seat on the board himself.
heard the suggestions often enough that he
did finally put his
own name in for consideration.
Prior to being elected to the board, Grubbs served on the General Assembly 2012 Accountability Group, which is charged with ensuring the participation of historically marginalized groups in the UUA's 2012 Justice GA in Phoenix, Ariz. (Since joining the board, he stepped down from the committee and a new member of DRUUMM replaced him.) As a Cherokee, he has long thought about immigration issues.
"I've talked about immigration from the point of view of Native Americans," he
was 10, Grubbs
grew up in a Cherokee community in Texas.
notes that there are whole nations on both sides of the U.S. borders with both Canada and Mexico.
"There are not many Native Americans in Canada and the U.S. that don't understand the concept that the borders have been imposed on us," he
"Many of the people coming across the border from Mexico are indigenous people to America.
They didn't cross the border.
The border crossed them."
Ministry was a second career for Grubbs, though he had briefly enrolled in seminary in his early 20s after he graduated from San Francisco State University.
"I was probably too young for the ministry, but I didn't know it at the time," Grubbs
After a short stint at the Crane Theological School at Tufts University
in the 1960s, Grubbs
went to work in the antiwar movement, organizing campus protests against the Vietnam War.
recalls having difficulty communicating with adults at the time.
"I wasn't patient with the older generation.
They were supporting the war and saying we had to go slow in race relations," he
After the war, Grubbs
organizing work, in antiracism, the labor movement, Chilean solidarity, and with the Boston Indian movement.
He also became a college history teacher, and he joined the Arlington Street Church in Boston, where a series of conversations with the then-new minister, the Rev. Kim Crawford Harvie, put him back on a path to theological school.
"There was a broad contention at Arlington Street
and within the social justice movement in the '70s toward the idea of building beloved community, and that was something I felt I was good at," said Grubbs
"I may not have stopped any wars, and people are still divided racially, but the individuals involved have better self-esteem and have become empowered through the work."
enrolled in Andover Newton Theological School
, and graduated in 1994.
parish ministry work, and he
married the Rev. Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley.
Bowens-Wheatley worked for both the UUA and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, and she and Grubbs were co-ministers at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, Tex. Bowens-Wheatley died in 2006.
"Marjorie is an important part of my story," said Grubbs
"Many people who know my name would associate me with her
Now in his
late 60s, Grubbs
remarried in 2011.
wife, the Rev. Michelle Walsh, is a community minister in Boston.
feels a sense of surprise that people now seem to consider him an elder.
takes seriously his
role in mentoring young people and young ministers.
"I have a multi-generational view," Grubbs
said, noting that he
prays each morning to his
ancestors from previous generations.
work with the board, Grubbs
carries a strong interest in keeping the board in good relationship with the UUA's
He will work on the board's Governance Working Group and on the Investment and Socially Responsible Investing committees.