Friends have asked me my thoughts on Peter Morales’ whitepaper and after finding out that I’m going to Orlando to brainstorm about it with others, have generously shared their thoughts with me.
I’ve noticed some interesting things in their thoughts (and for the record, I think all are valid). Now, these are rough approximations … there certainly are people in each category who do not agree with the others in the group. But for the most part:
My Social Media peeps: after years of shouting from the rooftops about the very real community and relationship that happens via blogs, FB, Twitter, etc., they’re excited to see others are realizing it.
My Boots on the Ground Parish Ministers: wonder if any of this is relevant to their churches and have concern that this will take away from the help they desperately need.
Theology Wonks: want more emphasis on the “there, there.” What is the root of what connects us? What are those “core values”?
Polity Wonks: want to know if this is a step toward being an association of members rather than an association of congregations, and if so, will this dilute/change our congregational polity?
One question I’ve heard from almost all groups is a desire for clarification, to know what the end goal is.
One thing I feel quite certain about: if we want to make a significant change in the world, if we want to extend our saving message beyond those who manage to figure out that they’re “Unitarian Universalists without knowing it,” it is going to require change and an “all hands on deck” mentality. No more protecting our own little square of real estate or working from models crafted 50 (or 200) years ago.
Are we willing to? Are we going to be an association that protects the walls, or knocks them down? An association that throws gasoline on burning bushes, or ice water?
Significant change will occur when all the entities – UUA, UUMA, MFC, local clusters, local congregations – look for possibilities. That minister holding 3 third-time jobs? Do we want to encourage someone who is helping 3 struggling congregations, or say, “Meh, doesn’t count”? That minister who spends time out in the community each week, feeding the hungry and being a visible representative for UUism? Do we want to say, “Well, do it on your own time”? That excited person who says, “I know a whole group of people who we should reach out to,” – do we say, “Nah, they don’t fit our profile”? To the person establishing and nurturing relationships online, do we say, “Those aren’t ‘real’”?
And along with the logic about needing to have both wings and roots, we must talk boldly about our saving message, our history, our theology. We are not a giant “non-denominational” movement. We are not the “none of the above” choice. This is not the Grand Church of Tabula Rasa.
We are Unitarian Universalism. We are missionaries into a hurt, broken world.