Happy Things and Lots of Exclamation Points!!!!!!

Yeah, I, too, have noticed that the communications from people in my line of work often contain a humorous number of exclamation points, smiley faces, and generally excited messages. We are a people passionate about our work- enthusiastic about the truly beautiful opportunities for connection and grace in our programs. Sometimes, it can get a bit out of hand, so today I offer a slightly different tone. Yes, I still want to communicate the amazing, transformative energy of our program, but maybe with more question marks.

muddy-road

Living a faith-full life is challenging. Navigating the decisions of every day amid distractions and disappointments is hard work. Paradoxically, developing our hearts and minds calls us to stay open. Whether we are adults, youth, or children, the complicated business of getting through a day with an intact soul takes all the energy we’ve got. Can our church be not merely a place of refuge, but one of recharge, re-forming, and respect?

Our Unitarian Universalism wants to connect us with the power of Love. Our Unitarian Universalism wants us to build Beloved Community. Connecting with the power takes energy. Building anything stable takes solid materials and tools. What happens when we do not possess these resources? How can we make sure everyone has access to the healing, creative force that our church community can give?

All our congregations are experiencing declines in attendance and membership. Why are we losing ground? Why are the numbers dwindling? Partly it is the culture that surrounds us. Perhaps you have been following the series on NPR about the growth of the “nones” – the people without religious affiliation.  Could it be that we are focused on only one type of growth- numbers? What about developing other kinds of growth in the faith formation of the folks who are already in the pews (or even our members who are staying home on Sunday!)

This big hot mess we are living is you, me, them, and even those folks over there. All of us. When our conversations see the whole crowd and considers each voice as important, then I know our intentions have become reality.

When the experience of the child is considered wisdom for the Board table, then I know that our Principles are more than words.

When the door is held open for the parent, not for a tip, but to give respite from a world of fear and pain, then I see our compassion.

When we learn how to trust from Youth and give them cause to respect us, then I know we understand the chicken and the egg.

How might we imagine a better way? How might we support our people, even if it means we have to make changes? Can we honestly face the reality that changes need to happen, and be ready for something good to be just over the horizon?

This is the part where it helps to have faith. While I don’t know where we are headed or how we will get there, I do believe that the power of Love expands beyond our wildest imaginings. I know that when we tune into the frequency of connection, of caring, of creativity, then it is a tremendous force for life. And I know I don’t want to miss it happening. Woyaya. We are going.

Symbols of Connection

Hi All-

There are a ton of thoughts to share with you about the lectures and workshops I have attended- I need time to process them, though.  In the meantime I wanted to show you one of the interesting things about General Assembly- the Ribbons!

Everyone is walking around with badges and each person has a different combination of ribbons, pins and stickers attached to their badge.  Here’s mine:

These are all symbols of our connections around our Association. I have my name (including CRE for Credentialed Religious Educator!!!), Pins for the carbon offsets I bought to help reduce the impact of my plane ride and the convention center use, a Standing On the Side of Love Pin, my Liberal Religious Educators Association lanyard, a Green Sanctuary sticker, Welcoming Congregation ribbon and the Annual Program Fund pink ribbon indicating that Channing was a Merit Congregation last year- giving an increase of money to the UUA .  YEA Channing!  Here’s a little video by our friend Peter Bowden explaining this:

What’s with all the ribbons? from UU World on Vimeo.

So we are doing well and maybe, we can expand our giving to the APF and Association Sunday in the years to come in support of the amazing work of the UUA who give our congregation a tremendous amount of support!

Arrived!

After so much planning and preparation, I am excited to report I have arrived in Charlotte for General Assembly!

 

I left from Warwick airport, so wouldn’t you know I bumped into not one, not 2 but THREE ministers from our district sharing the plane ride.  I’ve got to say, it made the turbulence more bearable knowing that we had ministers on board….just in case.

 

A nice touch was that when I arrived and began schlepping my gear toward the taxi area, there was a big clear Unitarian Universalist Association sign at the bottom of the escalator! How amazing to have that welcoming sign! I felt immediately that I was in the right place and everything would go well.

 

I am looking forward to a productive week full of learning, fun and spirit!

(now if only I had packed my laptop cord, i would be totally blissed out!)