Unitarian Universalism is a covenanted, congregational religious organization. We are joined in covenant around our Principles, and bound to help each other as needed. This help is typically thought of as through the UUA or Regional staff, but in reality we are bound congregation to congregation as well. This goes back to our early history; with no central governance like a diocese (and the UUA is not), congregations are charged to be in covenant with each other to help, support and provide guidance as needed. This is our Congregational Polity…each congregation owns itself, but is bound to each other by common cause.
Our regional cluster helps us understand that we are not doing Unitarian Universalism alone, that we do have common cause, and we can share expenses (both monetary and volunteer) to get a larger thing done. It also lets more of us enjoy the company of other UUs since travel and costs to General and Regional Assemblies, and other far flung UU events, can be prohibitive. And frankly, we need each other!
Our Arkansas Cluster serves this, and other purposes. It brings us together so we might know names and faces as Unitarian Universalists across the state, provide avenues to share support, resources and wisdom, and give rise to collective action on our Principles. Cluster meetings have provided leadership training, formation of a Social Action Network, discussed governance issues, reviewed our Racial Justice capabilities and more. We sing and dance, argue and cry, share music, poetry and meals together. We’ve invited each other to our different Fellowships and Churches so we know our people and spaces, and we’ve got to know each-other’s strengths and needs.
How we do cluster now may not be how we do it in the future, but as it is, we are enjoying each others’ company and wisdom. We may expand to include nearby churches in Oklahoma and Tennessee, morph into sub-groups, or spin off mini-assemblies. No matter how, we’ll continue sharing leadership skills/training, religious education initiatives, team building events and activities, and Social Justice organization. With the addition of technology (a subject that is coming up) we can have meetings and plan social activities even easier!
Even if the main topic of a particular cluster meeting is not exactly what you want, come anyway to enjoy the company of your fellow UUs and help plan a cluster activity that will. We tend to grouse about how things are done, General Assembly too expensive or the UUA is too remote, etc., so here is a chance to get things done “locally.” Get to know your UU neighbors, participate, and advance our movement in a state that surely and sorely needs us to be organized and have a strong collective voice. Oh… if you have a better name than a “cluster” please propose it! Thanks!
Peace, Rev. Jim Parrish