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