Sharing a concern that we actually live out the piece of our covenant where the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees is responsible for creating ends and UUA staff and congregations for figuring out how to achieve them, how could Congregations and Beyond achieve our Association’s goals? This is my personal speculation, since a formal statement from UUA Administration connecting the two has not been released. The UUA Board ends are in bold type.
What are our goals as an Association of Congregations?
First, we have the preamble understanding:
“Grounded in our covenantal tradition, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association will inspire people to lead lives of humility and purpose, connection and service, thereby transforming themselves and the world.”
Our primary question, which we must always answer, is: how well are we leading lives of humility and purpose, connection and service, that transform ourselves and the world?
Congregations and Beyond must invite us further into living humbly, purposefully, connected to one another and serving the world with transforming love.
Congregations that unlock the power to transforms lives. People:
- develop a personal practice
- participate in meaningful worship
- learn and practice empowered leadership and generosity
- find their ministry in the world
The first two practices are things that probably primarily occur in congregations and faith communities. The second two practices, however, are ones that we can nurture both inside the congregation and as congregations risking faithfully in the larger world. If we focus only on achieving the first two, consider the third to refer only to congregational administration, and think of the fourth as highly individual, then no, there’s no requirement to live faithfully as part of the larger world, beyond the membership rolls and congregational walls. However, I believe that interpretation fails the first and larger understanding or really transforms people’s lives after a certain stage of faithing is reached.
Congregations and Beyond imagines more face-to-face opportunities for people, more opportunities for service, more ways for folks to connect with our religious movement, which surely must involve congregations as well as other faith communities.
Our congregations are:
- Vibrant - joyful and excited about their ministries
- Intentionally multi-generational and multi-cultural
- Embracing and struggling with issues of oppression and privilege
- Open and inclusive in their outreach and welcome
- Ministries deeply shared by ministers and the laity
- Active participants in ministerial preparation and development
- Growing in membership
- Living their mission in their communities
Yes! Joyful diverse faith communities where everyone’s gifts matter, are cared for, and useful in serving the larger world are exciting communities. They’re also communities that are not insulated from the rest of the world, but are deeply part of the issues and concerns of their local areas and our earth.
Congregations and Beyond will only be effective if it is a ministry of every body, working together, taking responsibility together, engaging our troubles, sharing our strengths, and serving our world with courageous love.
Congregations that live in covenant with other congregations in our Association through:
- A strong, articulated sense of Unitarian Universalist and community identity
- High expectations of their members
- Full participation in Associational life
- Networking with each other
Yes. Congregational life isn’t just about the First Congregation of Prudent Hope and Excellent Boundaries. Vibrant faith communities know who they are, care about other community members (not only membership rolls), attend to the stranger and make them neighbor and kin, and take responsibility for the vibrancy and health of the whole world.
Congregations and Beyond invites imagining how to better sustain and engage one another, the estranged and the seeking.
Congregations that move toward sustainability, wholeness and reconciliation.
Our congregations answer the call to ministry and justice work:
- grounded in the communities in which they live
- nationally and internationally
- with interfaith partners and alliances
The public engages in meaningful dialogue and takes action informed by our prophetic voice and public witness.
These ENDS are all of equal importance and are to be achieved within a justifiable cost, with their priority set by the President.
The invitation into the Unitarian Universalist Association is not currently the same as the invitation into Unitarian Universalism. Some of our faith communities operate that way, but many do not. We can change that. We can engage this faith even more fully and more generously, caring more attentively for our planet and for one another. We can work more often, better, and more faithfully with local, regional, continental and international partners. We are the only ones who can decide to take up the faithful risks, to experiment, to fail and learn from our failures lessons other than not trying, to be more generous than ever before, and to live humbly, joyfully, and purposefully in service to and with transforming love.