Well, here’s a blog during the week of Thanksgiving, following a wildly successful Meet the Moment fund drive, in a month whose theme is gratitude. What to write about? Oh right, being thankful. I thought about making this blog like a game of Taboo, where I tell you I’m thankful but I’m not allowed to use the words thanks, thankful, grateful, gratitude, appreciation, Thanksgiving, happy, or turkey. That’s a fun game. Probably would be a short blog though. Here’s what I do want to say. Thanks!!!
When we were starting the Meet the Moment campaign, a challenge was put forth that resonated with me. Are we a congregation with a consumer mentality or a service mentality? Do we give of our time, talent, and treasure with the expectation that we will receive something in return, or because we think we have to? Or are we able to give of those things with only a motive of nurturing the congregation that nurtures us? Can we find spiritual fulfillment in the act of giving and serving, rather than it being a means to an end? It reminded me that in giving and serving, we build a community that is welcoming, nurturing, and supportive, and we build our own spiritual selves in the process.
Here we are, the campaign is over, and the Moment Hath been Met-eth. To me, this is a moment to be grateful for and to celebrate our UU community. We met the moment, and we are thankful for those who were able to give. What better example of being in community with one another? And we even found support from folks who aren’t members; what a testament.
During the campaign, I was personally moved by the testimonials from several members. They painted the picture of who we are. My family has only been a part of this church for about 5 years. Not sure what that equates to in UU years…But we feel at home. And this place is special. I can only think that when we go searching for our called minister, we are going to find a lot of folks lined up at the door, for a chance to be part of what we have going on.
We have a thriving RE program. We have a continuous crop of young minds to nurture, with lots of water, sunlight, and educational fertilizer so we can put more good people out into the world who can find ways to help and serve others. I’ve got 2 kiddos in RE, and if I am being honest, I am learning from them as they go, and as they grow. We have a resurgence of engagement and the halls are full again. And the Auction was a blast! Several folks took Margaret McAllister’s advice to ‘leave your dignity at home and went all out with their attire. If you haven’t seen the pictures yet….seek them out.
Most of all, I am most grateful for the work that lies ahead with the 8th principle – accountably dismantling racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions. This one really has me thinking. Remember the thing about building our own spiritual selves through giving and service? I feel the paradigm shift coming, and recognize that through it I will become less comfortable. Which I embrace. It’s impossible not to grow spiritually when working on myself and the institutions I am a part of. I have been thinking a lot about the paradox between our UU values, and the lack of diversity in our UU community. For reasons I truly want to understand, non-white people do not generally see UU Asheville as part of their spiritual home or community. Beloved Community is a phrase now used to mean when people of diverse racial, ethnic, educational, socio-economic status, gender, abilities, sexual orientation, and various identities come together in an interdependent relationship of love, mutual respect, and care that seeks to realize justice within the community and in the broader world. The 8th Principle endeavors for Beloved Community. I am thankful that our church is on this journey, and I am ready to get to work.
Will Jernigan, UU Asheville Board of Trustees