June 2019   
Minister's Monthly Column



Later this month, I will be traveling to Spokane, WA for the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly (GA).  GA is the time when our movement makes decisions that will affect the way we govern ourselves as well as decisions about the public stands we will take on a range of issues.  You may be interested in following along this year.  You can do so at:

There are also a range of workshops that are offered at GA that support congregations in a host of areas including faith formation, stewardship, social justice, and worship.  I always return to All Souls excited about some new thing I’ve learned that will enhance congregational life.  I expect that this year will be no different!

Those of you who pay close attention to denominational affairs know that the UUA has been in the throes of seismic shifts since 2017 when several key staff – including the president – resigned.  In the wake of that crisis good work has been done to address cracks in the system that long needed tending – foremost the ways in which even liberal institutions such as the UUA inadvertently uphold white supremacist systems.  All Souls has been part of the movement to learn more about it and adjust where necessary.  It’s not easy and often messy.

That’s where we are at this point:  the messy in-between time.  A lot of tension lives in the messy in-between and I expect that GA will reflect that tension.  We’re learning that retreating in the face of tension is a type of fragility – “white fragility” to be exact - that we can ill afford as we try to dismantle the systems that have kept Unitarian Universalism from moving closer to our vision of Beloved Community. 

Last night there was a lightly attended GRACE gathering to discuss Nancy McDonald Ladd’s essay, “Nothing We Do Will Be Perfect”.  The essay is an excerpt from McDonald Ladd’s book, After the Good News:  Progressive Faith Beyond Optimism.  The light attendance allowed for the 12 of us to sit around the table together, breaking bread and enjoying Mike Stevens delicious vegan chili for a too-cold late spring evening.  It was lovely.  McDonald Ladd emphasizes that anti-racism work is not a game and those of us engaged in the work will not win.  Nothing we do will be perfect, she reminds.  Liberal religion’s sunny “onward and upward forever” attitude is now having its overdue day of reckoning.  It’s a compelling read, dear Souls.  Have a look.

We came around to talking quite a bit about grace and humility and how precious little of either is present in the challenging conversations of our time, even (especially?) among religious liberals.  There was talk of the “circular firing squad” (as opposed to honest criticism) that makes heartfelt discussion about difficult topics nearly impossible.   It is one of the characteristics of this messy in-between time.  But there is also this: we concluded by each of us sharing what gives us hope right now:  Sunday morning.  The youth of All Souls and of our nation who are more accepting.  As I had been at two rallies on the same day earlier in the week, I said that those rallies make me hopeful because everyone who shows up does so because they’ve not given up.  They – we – still have hope. 

So, as I go to what will surely be a messy GA, I hope that there will be as much grace and humility as there was last night at the table in Unity Hall.

I also offer thanks to Carol & Bob Bunting and Jessica and Isis James who will be serving as All Souls’ delegates. 

With Love and humility for the journey we share,