14 July Minister Moment

Last Sunday I gave my first of two summer sermons. The summer here at UCN is a time for members and guest speakers to comment on a particular topic – this year the topic is “growth.” And this coming Sunday my friend and colleague, Walter Clark, will be speaking on a “growth event” from 50 years ago, when Unitarian Universalists both Black and White tried to grow into a post-racial denomination… and in the short term, failed.

Our reading last Sunday dealt with another time, thirty years before that, when a large Unitarian church in Chicago was debating removal of “Whites Only” rules from their bylaws. This ended more happily, with the congregation growing in understanding and desegregating. I don’t know what we did here in Norfolk… perhaps that’s one thing that will come out of Cheryl C.’s history team research.

My sermon considered the four words at the center of our congregation’s mission “fosters courageous spiritual growth” and tried to define spiritual growth and how to get it. This is an important thing because the mission of the congregation is what ministers are accountable to. The congregation has the job of defining the mission, and, if they feel it has become stale or inaccurate, for redefining it. It is the public declaration of what we are about, and basing our work on it is a way of being transparent. I hope you find moments of spiritual growth this summer, and that you have the courage to invite them into your lives.

Thanks to our performers this Sunday… Taryn M. singing “I Won’t Give Up” and “Hold On”, Ms PJ singing “Love Me Tender” and Maia K. and Stacia S. singing our opening number “How Far I’ll Go”! Thank you for a great morning of music, and thanks to Karen S. who is doing a wonderful job while Matt, our Music Director, is on summer break.

And thank you to our Committee on Ministry (CoM) who put on a workshop following the service. Thirty-eight of us spent 90 minutes talking about church and ministry, and brought up more ideas and questions than fit into the time. The CoM will be talking about how to do more sessions on these questions.

The Social Justice committee had a great meeting, talking about the results of the “Walkabout” process. The discussion included talk of continuing work on Voting Rights, in addition to the three sessions the congregation and community will have in September on Gerrymandering. We also talked about working on the future of healthcare as well as understanding what healthcare is in Hampton Roads today.

This past Sunday our readings also included: Winnie The Pooh (and finding the North Pole), Marge Piercy “To Be of Use” (find it on the Internet), and Max Capp’s poem “I brought my spirit to the sea” which is hymn #4 in our hymnal.

Oh yes, if you want to know one way to “foster courageous spiritual growth” here’s some advice from this week’s reading in Protestant churches: Matthew 13:1 “That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.”

I love you!
Rev Charlie

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