The other day someone shared with me they thought a church should be an efficient organization and that a high degree of efficiency would help keep everyone physically and emotionally safe, tensions and anxiety to a minimum, and folks would just feel much happier if everything ran like clock-work. Even though I like efficiency, I had to disagree. Our UU church community, and in fact most all UU church communities, do need an efficient governance process and effective leadership team, but at the core of our religious community is our striving for right relationship.
Because we work so hard to be inclusive, welcoming, enlightened, and safe, right relationship in and of itself, isn’t necessarily a defining feature of our community. Instead, it’s the striving for which better describes the UU experience.
As we embark upon a new year, it seems like striving for is more important than ever. Relationships don’t exist in a vacuum and efficiency isn’t something that comes pre-packaged in the mail. In fact, when you stop and think about it, finding and maintaining a ‘right’ relationship is pretty hard work. For me, just when I think I’ve got all the dimensions, nuances, and sub-texts figured out, something happens and everything changes.
Business and some organizations run efficiently with the help of flow charts and spread sheets. But we are a voluntary association of believers and so UUs believe in the power of covenant: our promise to each other to strive for right relationship. For example, I feel more confident when I start from assuming good faith; and then sharing honestly and openly is a healthy and important next step. To ask for and offer forgiveness – if needed; and to support decisions in a shared voice all help the fluid dynamics of relationship stay within the context of covenant.
Over the upcoming weeks, I’ve asked members of our leadership team, and all of you, to start thinking about the future. Not only do we need to continue offering high quality Sunday services, we must pay attention to the fabric of our religious/spiritual community. We are the stewards of uucasper and so are responsible for doing the hard work of looking at all our relationships – interpersonally and organizationally, so we can figure out how our message of radical welcome, inclusiveness, valuing diversity, and witness to spiritual journeys can be made available and accessible to every person who chooses to come to a service.
I also believe all the change this pandemic has brought into our lives is now the new normal, and so we must start from here. The future is ours if we truly want to do the hard work that being in a covenanted relationship – our commitment to striving for – demands of us. I am looking forward to the new year and all that is in store from the amazing journey we are traveling together. Our UU values, history, and the light of the future have, and will continue, to guide us where we need to go! See you in church!