Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister and Joy Berry, Director of Lifespan Religious Education
(Water Service – a multi-generational service we do annually at this time of year that celebrates all the gifts we get from water.
From such a humble beginning one clear droplet falling from a leaf in the forest or the hood of a raincoat touches and changes so much on this Earth, linking us with all life. Our annual multigenerational Water Service will celebrate all the water gives to our lives. Please bring water from your travels or from a special place for you to contribute to our common bowl.
I’ve always giggled at the idea of that obligatory grammar school essay titled, “What I Did This Summer.” I don’t recall ever being assigned one, but I know that I’ve thought about it, and never was sure what I would say. It feels so navel-gazey and boring. But this summer, while I was on sabbatical, I was able to delve into some learning and reflection, and I thought you might like to know a little bit about what I was up to.
When you tell someone you’re on sabbatical, they invariably get a bit of a glazed-over look, wistful, as if they wish they could have three months of paid vacation from work. And I totally get that. In some ways, sabbatical seems like quite a luxury. And it is. But one of the things I realized while I was gone is that there is an impact to being constantly on call. It becomes really difficult to stop and rest, to turn off your work brain. And (act surprised when I say this!) I tend toward over-functioning, so it’s easy for me to “forget” to take all of my vacation time, to work through my days off. And that tendency means that by the time I left for sabbatical I was pretty exhausted and ready for a break.
So, while on sabbatical, I was primarily able to experience life with just a little bit more spaciousness in it. I took more naps, and cooked more complicated recipes. I had the time to take a course through Columbia Seminary in Decatur, GA on “Leading from the Second Chair” (as associate minister, I’m in the second chair) which gave me some good insights into how I execute my job responsibilities, and how I live out my call to ministry in this congregation. Mark and I are slated to have some conversation about what I learned and how it might impact the ways we work together.
And, I attended General Assembly in Columbus, OH. Primarily, my role there was to be the lead Co-Chair of the Right Relationship Team. But I also walked at the Service of the Living Tradition, which honors transitions in ministry – I was able to celebrate attaining Final Fellowship with my family and friends, and a few congregants and staff from UUCA who were in attendance.
The folks from UUCA generously gifted me with a lovely stole in honor of that milestone, for which I am grateful. With that, and another stole given by a friend from seminary, I started reflecting on what the ministerial stole means to me. When I was in Massachusetts serving a more formal congregation, I wore a robe before I was ordained, but the stole was most definitely reserved for after ordination. To me, it symbolizes the weight of the office of minister and the sacredness of what I am doing when I wear it. It has never been a tradition for ministers here at UUCA, and I have followed that tradition since I have been here. And yet, I have missed claiming that marker of my role, and the way it calls me into a head and heart space that is different from my every day work.
Mark and I have since had some conversation about our personal thoughts and feelings about vestments of all kinds, and we know that every minister has different perceptions and needs around this sort of thing. Mark and I don’t land in the same place on this one. But the conversations have been interesting and illuminating. And so, as we begin to mix things up a bit in worship, our attire is going to get mixed up a bit, too. You’ll begin to see me wearing a stole when I am in the pulpit.
These deeper reflections on what ministry looks like, and who we are as individuals and together, are the kinds of things that get pushed to the back burner when I’m in the day to day of managing programs and solving problems. It is good to get to pause and go deeper.
As I said in my first sermon back, it was good to be away, and it is good to be back. Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper is the Associate Minister of UUCA
Rev. Dr. Mark Belletini
After almost 40 years serving Unitarian Universalist congregations, I have witnessed many changes among us. Former hymnbooks and styles of music no longer in use, while new sources of music and culture rise up. New symbols in worship…the chalice of flame, and in many of our congregations, more ceremonial. Far deeper and varied understandings about what ministers “look like,” or whom they love. What is going on? My first year of retirement from my life’s work has offered me new perspectives on this.
We all joined hands to learn about covenants this Spring. Feeling deeply included in this church is important for people of all ages.
This September, we begin a change in the way we worship together. As Rev. Mark Ward announced in his blog a few weeks ago, we will now begin each Sunday together as a faith community, for the first part of worship. Children and youth, as well as teachers, will now be with the rest of the congregation for the beginning of each worship service. This means they will be present for the chalice lighting (recruiting now for older chalice lighters: 8 and up), a hymn, a story or other element with layered meaning for adults and children alike, and a ceremonial leave taking, including passing the flame from the chalice. Then the RE community will go down for multigenerational classes and activities (at 9:15) and regular, age-separated classes at 11:15.
We believe this special time together, specially constructed to maximize involvement and spiritual development in children, will have many positive effects on the whole community. We also recognize that such a change can be hard to imagine, amd may present challenges for some. Change can feel hard! We will all be learning together how to be together, leaning in to our covenant and growing our sense of who we are, what we are called to do, and how we are, together!
It is in this awareness that I share the following document with you all, to help ease the transition. In it, you will find suggestions for parents and families, children, and others in the congregation, to support and enhance this time together.
We look forward to being “all together now” this Fall!
I just love presidential campaigns. Months and months of drama. Best of all (IMHO) is the intersection of religion and politics. Fascinating.
There is the BBC News report about the formation of an Amish Pac dedicated to getting the Amish, who have never seen a Trump tweet, to vote for Trump. Amish generally don’t vote preferring to “leave it up to God.” However, they live in substantial numbers in the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. So, I guess God is getting a helping hand.
Here’s a riddle: What do Donald Trump, Tim Kaine, and Pope Francis have in common?
Answer: all three were educated by Jesuits.
Catholics represent about one-fifth of the voters. Generally, 40 percent goes to each party, leaving 20 percent up for grabs. They are heavily concentrated in, oh-oh, the mid-west swing states.
So it has become almost a requirement to have a Catholic running mate. Obama & Joe Biden, Romney & Paul Ryan, Clinton & Tim Kaine (a Pope Francis Catholic) and Donald Trump & Mike Pence (an Evangelical Catholic.)
Be that as it may, let us remember the wise words of Richard Nixon – “The Vice President can’t help you . . . he can only hurt you.” And he would have known.
How are the campaigns doing religion-wise?
During the pope’s visit last February, Trump called him “disgraceful” and a “political pawn” of Mexico. Pope Francis responded, “A person, who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
However, James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, would disagree. He has assured gatherings of Evangelicals that Trump has accepted a “relationship with Christ” and is now “a baby Christian” implying that Trump would grow in this faith.
Meanwhile, Ben Carson is warning about Clinton’s connection with Lucifer. Clinton wrote her 1969 Wellesley undergraduate thesis on Saul Alinsky. Carson pointed out that the dedication in Alinsky’s book Rules for Radicals acknowledges Lucifer as the original radical who gained his own kingdom. Carson asks, “Can you vote for someone whose role model someone who acknowledges Lucifer?” Could be a case of better the devil you know . . . ?
While Trump is dealing with a “Gender Gap,” Clinton is dealing with the “God Gap” – where regular worshipers more often vote for Republican candidates.
In this week’s news, it appears that Mormons, with a history of being an oft-maligned religion and with a commitment to welcoming refugees, are put off by Trump’s stance on Muslims and immigration. Their ambivalence is putting the strongly Republican Southwest into play.
See, I said it was fascinating.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Code limits the political activities of tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, including churches. They can talk about issues but can’t endorse candidates if they wish to retain their tax-exempt status.
A recent Pew Center survey shows that some clergy have been speaking out about at least one or more social or political issues – conservatives on religious liberty & abortion; liberals on immigration & environment; more divided on homosexuality & economic inequality.
The provision of the tax code that prohibits endorsing political candidates was added in something called the (Lyndon) Johnson Amendment. This year’s Republican platform calls for the repeal of the Johnson Amendment as it limits free speech.
Maybe. Is it really a very big step from opinion on issues to opinion on candidates?
On the other hand, candidate yard signs in front of a congregation might not be supportive of congregational harmony.