After a summer like the one I had, I really don’t want to do a “what I did” report… let’s just say that it was a very active summer, with family and friends. Some interactions were unexpectedly interesting; some joyful, and some difficult. I have to say that the summer was rich, varied and energizing in ways I did not expect, and left me with profound questions that are part of our human experience; being born, living, and having to die. I found that when I got into UUFF’s pulpit in August, for the first time in weeks, I felt like I had come home. I missed being with you, and missed the focus sermons bring, even though I know it is good to recharge the batteries by being away. Balance in all things!
This year I hope our Mission is woven all through our services, our religious education, our stewardship and our social justice work. We began this integration at our Board and Ministry Council Retreat held in August, where we talked about how our Mission leads into a Long Range Plan, with roles, responsibilities and goals.
The Board and committee/team leaders explored creating goals from the Mission that match their roles and responsibilities to the Fellowship. Within this missional goal-setting there will be shared Themes to work with… so we have Services, RE curriculum, and Social Justice working together in an underlying framework.
Our Mission is this: As a diverse, accepting faith community, we promote justice and service while seeking personal and spiritual growth.
Our Mission compels us to: Work to understand what diversity means in our changing the world and become multi-culturally capable, to have clear justice works in progress through education and outreach, and to have meaningful religious exploration opportunities for youth and adults- including worship. It also compels us to be stewards of our Unitarian Universalist faith– to not just maintain, but to grow it for the future.
And when I say “faith,” because we do believe in things seemingly unproven and yet manifest in life, I mean that we believe in the innate oneness and goodness of humanity, in our interconnection to all. We believe that justice and peace can be attained in the long arc of the universe, no matter the present turmoil (which is part of change). Some of these beliefs are being proven in scientific ways. Empathy and altruism are part of our DNA; yet humanity has the ability to be cruel, divisive and deadly.
But with our continued work within UUFF, and with allies, we know life can get better.
I personally believe that the successful work done to promote the citizenship and equality of LGBTQ folks is proof of our beliefs… that the turmoil caused by lifting the veil of racism in our culture is proof that there is deep work still to be done. We have a mission, and it is not just to paint the building or keep the lights on (though we build community in this); it is to be a beacon of truth, freedom and liberal religion in NWA. It begins with us- learning how to be anti-racist, to be culturally capable, to be leaders and allies, to become deeply educated and spiritually motivated people that move the world by our modeling and works.
It was fun to talk with students at the University’s Razorbash in August, describing UU to them. Many times we’d talk and agree that religion should let an individual explore their inner being in a loving community, look for answers to the meaning of life that make sense, and find what will motivate them to be good people. We strive to do good works, to live in harmony with diversity, to understand what justice means, to continue to learn, teach what they learn, and be good stewards of life in its interconnections. Students at the U of A would look at me like, “There is a religion that does this?” I got to say, “Yes- it is us; it is UU.” And all I did was describe our Principles and Mission.
At our Blessing of the Backpacks Service in late August, we let our students, teachers and administrators know that they are held up by our community in their work to teach and learn, and that they represent us in their endeavors as well. All of us at UUFF are Unitarian Universalist in our lives and livelihood, and we have a mission that goes beyond our walls. We sang, “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let It Shine,” to close the service, and that is what we’ll do. It’s what we’ve historically done in the arc of the universe, always have, and hopefully, always will.