“Moving from Polity to Purpose”
I had the privilege of witnessing a profound conversation with my colleagues in the Pacific Western Region. They were talking about what it would take to really shift our culture away from holding on to “this is mine” to “we are called to serve a larger vision.” They named it powerfully as “moving from polity to purpose.”
What excites me most about our move toward regionalization is not so much that we can create new and interesting structures, but that this transition helps us uncover a deeper charge of culture change that asks us to claim a larger purpose of serving the larger world, not just “ourselves.”
The Pacific Northwest District Executive, Janine Larsen, recently charged a congregation with this injunction: “The days of ministering in isolation and from behind the comfort of your own walls are over, my friends. This is the age of the network. You must serve differently, nimbly, diversely; virtually and in meet-ups, constantly and spontaneously, in the streets and in the homes.”
So much of the conversation I hear in congregations about what feels so wonderful about being Unitarian Universalist is that they feel they have found true sanctuary in the midst of chaos. We often hear people relieved at finding a community of the “like-minded”.
And of course one of the great benefits of community is feeling anchored and supported. But the shadow side of this is when we build the walls too high, or focus only inwardly. What if we move from the (perhaps arrogant) statement of being “like-minded” to seeing ourselves as “like-hearted” – coming together to offer our gifts to the world.