Service of the Living Tradition: 6/23 @ 7 pm

Led by the The Ministries and Faith Development Staff Group, this service honors fellowshipped and credentialed religious leaders; remembering those who have died, recognizing those who have completed active service, and welcoming those who have received fellowship or credentialed status in the past year. The service includes a collection to benefit the Living Tradition Fund.

Join us in Sandburg Hall as we watch the livestream of the General Assembly worship service. This year, Rev. Claudia receives full fellowship and will be honored in this service. Gather with us or watch from home at https://www.uua.org/ga/off-site/2022.

UUA General Assembly, Portland, OR and online, June 22-26

General Assembly: The Unitarian Universalist Association's Annual Meeting | UUA.orgGeneral Assembly (GA) is the annual meeting of our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Participants worship, witness, learn, connect, and make policy for the Association through democratic process. Anyone may attend.  Additionally each UUA congregation can have a specific number of voting delegates according to its size.  UU Asheville can have 10 delegates.  If you’re interested in being a delegate, contact Board President Clyde Hardin.

In 2022, we will have the option of meeting online or in-person! For those who enjoyed the convenience and accessibility of remote participation, General Assembly will continue to offer virtual attendance with robust programming and enhanced delegate discussion tools. For those who have been missing the physical experience, GA 2022 will also feature face-to-face interactions, hanging banners, a browsable exhibit hall, meals with friends old and new, local site attractions, and more! Join us June 22 – 26, 2022 online or in-person in Portland, Oregon.

All GA attendees and exhibitors are required to provide proof of Covid-19 Vaccination for in-person attendance at General Assembly. In addition, masking is required and physically distanced seating options will be reserved in our meeting spaces.

General Assembly registration information.
General Assembly housing information.
General Assembly programming information.

Fathering Day/Flower Communion

Sunday, June 19, 2022, 11am
Rev. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister
Send Rev. Cathy a photo of your father, grandfather, or someone who was like a father to you for our slide show, and bring a flower for our traditional Flower Communion.

In the years immediately following the First World War, Norbert Capek, who had once been head of all the Baptist churches in Bohemia, discovered that he had begun to embrace theological and religious convictions which were simply too liberal for that religious community. In response, he founded the Unitarian movement in Czechoslovakia. Many of its members, like Capek, had grown up in other religious communities and found that their religious needs could not be met by the empty ceremonies and the hymns which were part of the churches of their childhood. Dr. Capek responded by writing hymns of his own and devising new ceremonies. One of the most successful of these ceremonies was the flower communion service, in which each person in the congregation brought a flower to church and placed it in a vase. This simple ceremony began to spread among American Unitarian Universalists at about the time that Dr. Capek was executed by the Nazis at the infamous death camp at Dachau. 

“Love boldly and always speak the truth”

I am grateful to have officially joined you here at UU Asheville. I met many of you at our Annual Meeting last Sunday, and I look forward to meeting more of you this summer. Your ministers and staff have welcomed me, and my gratitude extends to Linda Topp for her willingness to continue teaching me even after her official retirement. For this first posting, I want to share more about how I see my role here as your Director of Administration.

I enter this role with a slightly different background than you might expect. My undergraduate and graduate degrees are in religion and gender studies. From a young age, I was steeped in congregational life and the transformational work of religious communities. I worked in higher education and a large non-profit before returning to congregational life as the Communications Director at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisconsin. I share this background with you because a theological perspective is how I enter into the conversation about the administrative and business aspects of UU Asheville. I see this work as an extension of our larger ministry.

I believe the local congregation must balance the call to live out its values in the context of a society that doesn’t hold those same values. This balance requires constant calibration, and for me, this is acutely present in congregational business operations. Budgets, databases, and facilities work are often seen as the necessary tasks churches must undertake rather than an extension of the ministry we offer the world. For me, the question is always, “how can we embody our values in our everyday operations?”

My final thought for this introductory posting centers on the quote at the top, “Love boldly and always speak the truth.” I keep this quote on my desk both at work and at home. It is my reminder of how I strive to be in the world. I believe honesty can be a form of kindness. I will endeavor to be appropriately transparent with you about the state of our community, and I ask that you also share in the work of honest dialogue in return. I ask for your grace and patience as I grow in my relationship with you, the congregation, and this new role.

It is a joy to be with you, and I look forward to our work together.

Doing Church

The last couple of months have been busy for me.  The Board has had a lot going on lately, what with the development of our Ministerial Search Committee, the retirement of our administrator (Linda Topp), the hiring of our new administrator (Brittany Crawford), and the return to an in-person Annual Meeting, all on top of the usual Board duties.  During this time, my own personal life has been filled with the joy of friends, family, travel, and some service to others; but the cost of those joys – which I willingly paid – was time usage in an already overloaded schedule.

I’m not complaining, though, even if it may sound like it.  Well, maybe I am complaining just a little bit; but I do derive a certain joy in being busy and productive, even when it is somewhat stressful.  My work with UU Asheville of late has mainly involved interacting with other Board members, our staff, and other congregants – not on spiritual matters, but mainly on matters of church business and operations.  I’ve often heard these kinds of activities and interactions referred to as “doing church.”  So, I’m spending all this time doing church, and one might think that it’s just a lot of stressful work, with frustrations galore, and with none of the reflective or community-building sorts of features that make church meaningful and fun for many of us.

Well, that would be partly true – I have felt stresses or frustrations, especially of late.  But what I find interesting is that it’s pretty far from being completely true for me.  All those “doing church” interactions are in fact personal interactions, even if the subject is a budget or a bylaw change.  It’s always a pleasure getting to know my fellow congregants or a staff members better; and that can happen dealing with even the least spiritual of matters.  There is community-building going on there.  And there is the personal reward of knowing that my “doing church” serves our mission, that it is an integral part of our collective ministry, and that it thus helps build something important to both our inner souls and the wider world.

I hope each and every one of you can find a way of doing church that brings you closer to our church family, and that brings you joy and meaning.  Your way almost certainly won’t be the same as my way.  But my many years of doing church has taught me that it takes actual work to realize the payback of those deeper meanings and deeper connections.  It cannot be done passively.  You might have to take a plunge into some activity at UU Asheville that piques your interest, even if you’re not really sure you want to.  This is especially true in these pandemic times, when many of us have, understandably, pulled away from church.  Had I not wandered into this job of Board president, I might well have pulled away some myself.

I guess I’m advocating for us all to avoid pulling back.  Rather, I’m hoping that each of us can find our own way of doing church that re-engages and that suits the soul.  I seem to have found a little bit of that for myself in a too-busy couple of months recently.  Take a plunge, even if you’re a little hesitant.  There are some great things going on at UU Asheville, and there are some great people doing those things.  Let’s work together to realize the true value of our church home.

Clyde Hardin, President, Uu Asheville Board of Trustees