Monday, November 5, 2012

Coming Alive

Sixth in a series of posts about the October UUA Board meeting

A 14 year old girl lives her values by refusing to exclude someone who is considered “undesirable” in the culture of the country she is visiting.

A demonstrator refuses to ignore the humanity of the policeman who is there to keep the laws that will likely be broken during the demonstration.

A couple just “can’t not” help someone who is physically and emotionally exhausted.

These are just a few of the over 160 stories that were collected over the past year and a half in Gathered Here.  Many more came from 70 community events whose outputs were fed back via the UUA website – in total, nearly 1200 documented conversations, with many more that were not documented.  Led by nationally known Appreciative Inquiry consultant Amanda Trosten-Bloom, these stories went through a process of “meaning making” that identified attributes of our “positive core”:  when we are at our best as Unitarian Universalists. 

We are at our best when we:
  • Grow into our best selves and honor the divine in each person
  • Practice “spiritual justice”:  justice-making in faith and worship
  • Embrace fellow travelers within and beyond our faith, building community together
  • Proactively invite people to share themselves and their gifts
  • Have such a strong sense of our religious purpose and identity that we must act on it
  • Covenant together to create sustained relationship across all ages and cultures
  • Transcend geographic, national, and language barriers
  • Experience spiritual depth, individually and collectively

Each statement about the “positive core” is explained and illustrated more fully in the Gathered Here Summary Report

The October board conversation about the added value of the Association started with Gathered Here.  We are deeply appreciative of all those who participated in the Gathered Here conversations, and our partners and sponsors.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

You want to talk to WHO?

Fourth in a series of posts about the October UUA Board meeting

Forgive the grammar.  We want to talk to our vision of Beloved Community.  And the heritage, tradition, and ideals of Unitarian Universalism.  And current and future generations of Unitarian Universalists, as well as the Spirit of life, love, and the holy.

When the UUA Board first identified four groups we were accountable to in addition to our member congregations, reactions from outside the Board varied from thinking only member congregations counted, to appreciating the poetry, to averring that we should be accountable only to our mission.  We called the five groups "sources of authority and accountability" (Sources), avoiding the Carver term "moral owners" because of its historical connotation with slavery.  I suspect almost no one expected us to actually be in some sort of dialogue with these Sources.

With significant guidance from Unity Consulting, a small team from the Board has been identifying methodologies to do just that.   The Board approved working definitions of these Sources (what are their voices?  how do they speak?) at this past meeting.  We anticipate using these working definitions to get valuable feedback from all of our Sources on the draft ends from next January's meeting.

For example, what might the heritage, traditions, and ideals of Unitarian Universalism think about the definition of a congregation?  The Source operating definition identifies a number of places we might look, including the writings of historical figures, UU historians, minutes and actions of the UUA Board, Administration, and General Assembly, our hymnals, and our by-laws (note this is not a comprehensive list).  While we acknowledge times have changed (would our forbears have envisioned a virtual congregation?), there are underlying values that are important, such as the role of covenant.

I might find less guidance from this Source if I am looking for values around an End on a global faith (I made this up -- the Ends are in the process of being written and this may or may not be on the list).  We already know from Gathered Here that Current and Future Generations have something to say about it.  Envisioning a future faith that did not have geographic boundaries was mentioned far more by Youth and Young Adults in Gathered Here conversations.

What might the Spirit of life, love, and the holy say about "a religious faith-based perspective to public discourse and a deepening theology for justice and community-building movements", another early draft of an End?

I think I will meditate on that. 

Next post:  what makes us come alive