You teach me, I forget. You show me, I remember. You involve me, I understand. ― Edward O. Wilson
I have been doing a lot of thinking about church life—how could I otherwise, such reflection is central to my calling and my work. Congregational life, the joy of worshipping together on Sunday mornings, the larger ministry we share and my evolving relationships with you, the wonderful, welcoming and thoughtful people that comprise our KUUC community all bring me joy.
However, I also spend a fair amount of time in committee meetings which, though often cast as pointless time suckers, are vitally important part to a shared ministry such as ours. The various committees, the clusters and the Board of Trustees each provide support for our community; they can inspire us to new levels of individual and collective growth; they create vision, stimulate worthy dreams; they make important decisions about how we carry out our mission, preserve our beautiful sanctuary and maintain the common property that we have hold in trust. Participation in the process of church life, growth and government is both central and sacred to Unitarian Universalism, with historical connections stretching back to the earliest churches in America.
One thing I have noticed lately, which is also commonplace in the cyclical nature of congregational life is a lot of talk about the level of our commitment. We worry about the participation of membership, the need for more folks to volunteer, the hope that we can integrate newer people into the mix, and the of lack of people taking advantage of our wonderful programs and fellowship activities. Sometimes we express frustration over what seems like a few people trying to cover all the bases and do all the work that needs to be done around here—and these are perfectly natural concerns of caring people. I must say that from time to time I have contributed to these discussions and those equally important conversations that naturally go hand in hand with them: conversations about how so many of us are overworked and stressed out, or are busy dealing with illnesses and family issues, who feel they hardly have enough time for their children and grandchildren or that they have already done so much for KUUC.
So, I want to hold up some important themes that have risen to the top for me. I think that perhaps we are looking at all of these questions about community involvement and commitment level in a manner that probably isn’t as productive or successful as we would like. We need to make sure that we are enjoying ourselves even as we do the hard work of managing and promoting this congregation. We need to remember and share the deep satisfaction we get from doing our part. We need to share our own stories about how we made friendships and got to know people better while painting walls and planning rummage sales and helping out with RE.
Unitarian Universalism is an active faith tradition focused on service, community, curiosity and the democratic process. Without participating in the life of the church, we miss out on something vitally important about the religion we have freely chosen; things that no amount of pamphlet reading or listening to sermons can give us. Ours isn’t a path that believes in guilting people into doing something. The work, worship and society that are at the heart of congregational life should never be seen, promoted or lived as mere drudgery, as obligations, or “shoulds” and “musts.” We do ourselves a disservice when we do not aim high, making all of church work joyful as well as productive.
I hope that KUUC will bring you intellectual challenge and growth, opportunities to learn about yourself and live your values, that it will bring mutual support and fond fellowship to enrich your lives, and yes, work, that makes you feel part of something important and rewarding.
Yours in Faith and Fellowship,