A Vow and A Vision
Peter Morales (President of the UUA) has just posted a new statement, “Congregations and Beyond” that contains both a vision and a vow.
Our polity is founded upon a congregational structure, and our theology and ideology is much larger than that. The core question for me at this time is “who does Unitarian Universalism serve?” Is it just our members? Is it those who share our values? Or is it the larger community with which we hope to serve through our values?
In Behold I Do a New Thing, Kirk Hadaway talks about a congregation empowered by their “vow” not just their “vision”. By vow he means an “intention and a direction …. even a covenant with the world. Rather than following a vision, we give ourselves vision – the ability to see – and then we act accordingly (and resolutely)”.
What I like about this concept is that it is both outer directed and mutually led. One of the culture shifts that goes into our thinking about “Congregations and Beyond” is the notion of “open leadership” which is all about engaging rather than controlling (see Charlene Li Open Leadership).
This is the approach we are trying to take with exploring some new directions for the UUA. Openness to outcomes, engagement with many different communities, shared leadership with many stakeholders – all of these are key underlying tenets for this initiative.
Toward that end we will be holding a consultation in early February to explore some new strategies we might employ. Included in this consultation are a collection of people who have been doing some of the most innovative work in reaching out to Unitarian Universalists in a multitude of ways. We know there are many others who are exploring these concepts and we hope this consultation will be just the beginning of creating multiple learning communities.
I’ve been given the portfolio of championing this initiative in its formative stages, and it makes complete sense to me to house this for the time being in the staff group of Congregational Life. For I understand this as being as much about congregations as about those beyond them.
We all are learning a new way in a new world, and I for one am eager to explore.
Great insights, Terasa. I’m looking forward to hearing more about this project.
I don’t know what “holding a consultation” means?
I like the ‘vow’ piece. It provides a point of ‘stickiness’ for UU’s to hang onto when things get difficult in community. It holds up the commitment piece which I find sadly lacking.Also contributes to spiritual growth/faith development which our members desperately née.
Come happy, leave hungry! I’m hungry for more.
This is timely as I am speaking from this perspective this Sunday which is Community Ministry Sunday in Wakefield (MA) and other places. The work I did for 20 years in the Golden Tones elder chorus was bringing UU values “out beyond” the local congregation, which had the result of bringing new folks into some UU congregations or at least an understanding and appreciation of UU values. It also brought them to a national stage by being made a Best Practices of the National Endowment for the Arts. They weren’t given a specific UU name there but our UU values and living from a place of faith and meaning permeated the work which was ministry for me. Now I am bringing my community ministry skills to a small parish, reconnecting them outward. And we are getting folks coming in through our Facebook Page, other online media, etc. I will look forward to what comes out of this consultation.