As was mentioned time and again this weekend, Unitarian Universalism, as a denomination, is turning fifty this year. Anybody who was active in the denomination when the merger happened is now, at least, approaching retirement age. Our membership, which had been slightly but steadily growing has begun to decline.
This weekend was focused on three questions. “Where are we now? What’s possible? What’s next?” We had a pretty easy time with “where are we now” because, let’s face it, criticism is easy. We can see what has to be changed. We had a lot to say about where are we now. Harder, though no less important, was naming the strengths of where we are now. We have set lofty goals for who we are as a denomination and now we get to deal with that. We have passed some crucial markers, recognized and dealt with a lot of flaws, and now it’s time to work past that surface layer of what being a religious denomination means and really dig in.
Reverend Rob Hardies, the minister of All Souls in DC had us stand up and sing the first and fifth verses of “Bring Many Names.” The fifth verse starts“Young, growing God, eager still to learn, willing to be changed by what you’ve started.”
We have started something big and amazing and powerful and transformative and now we have to live with that. We are unique in many ways, but we are far from the only liberal religion, far from perfect, and far from meeting the needs of everyone who we could be providing a religious and spiritual home for.
Get out of our own way today
see where we are needed
know where we are planted
and go there
and go there and go there
deep into the heart of the bramble and thicket
into the unknown and uncharted
may our passions take us where no one has gone before
because somebody has to
-Rev L. Sinha
Are we willing to be changed by what we have started? Are we willing to get out of our own way, and go there, for any number of definitions of “there”? Are we willing to look at what we have built, recognize it for all that it is AND all that it isn’t, and take the steps to change what has to be changed so that we really CAN be the face of liberal religion for a new generation?
Our voices are needed by so many, and could be relevant to so many, and there are ways to spread our message. A lot of wonderful ideas were shared this weekend about what various churches are doing and we had an amazing opportunity to sit down with one another at tables and chat about what we want to see happen, what we had heard, and what we were hoping to hear more of.
My big question right now, though, is “are we willing?” Above anything else that’s what is important.
Over the next week or so I’ll be blogging more about stuff that came out of the Minns Lectures. If there’s anything You’d like to hear about let me know!