rev Claudia JiménezLast Sunday our full Audio Visual Team was in the Sanctuary supporting our first live-streamed service. Rev. Cathy and I know it was frustrating when the link didn’t go live. We stuck it out, and many of you did, too. Thank you! Once we were live, the service went well. Whew! Our AV team figured out the glitches. We are all learning as we do the work and strive to create meaningful worship whether you are at home or in person.

Last Sunday, after Rev. Cathy and I discussed how, unlike Zoom worship when we can see your faces, preaching to an empty sanctuary while live-streaming is not fun. One of the joys of preaching is feeling the energy in the room and seeing our gathered community. So, as we continue to explore what in-person worship will be like (wait for it…) we will be experimenting with 10 congregants each Sunday in November signing up electronically to join us- masked and distanced, of course.

We are also planning a few outdoor gatherings in December (weather permitting). On December 12 we might have a tree decorating and cookie exchange. Some of you will be in the Sanctuary and you may want to join us after the service. Others are invited to drive over and join in the fun. What do you think? Cookies and tree decorating? We’ll have to work out the logistics. We will also have a second tree, the Tree of Hope. Last year we partnered with Sand Hill-Venable Elementary School to bring some holiday joy to students and families. UUCAsheville member, Laurel Stolte serves as assistant principal. Sand Hill-Venable is a Buncombe County school with a culturally and racially diverse student body, but also a high level of economic need (three-quarters of students qualify for free- and reduced-price lunch). You will have the option to pick up a tree ornament from the Tree of Hope or from the online tree with instructions. Details and a link are forthcoming. If you are interested in being on the planning team, please let me know. I have a few ideas and we have a staff lead that will support making it happen. We can’t do this without your involvement. Having thought partners in planning events and even worship are ways to use your gifts and talents to serve the larger community.

This morning, we had a rehearsal for this Sunday’s Remembrance Service. That service was created in partnership with Les Downs, our music director; Kim Collins, our LRE Coordinator; and Nancy Bragg who leads the Good Grief Group. Everyone contributed ideas and together we crafted the service. I am experimenting with creating opportunities for diversifying the voices and music heard in worship as well as the team involved in crafting worship. I welcome your thoughts, ideas, and participation in worship planning and other faith development experiences, such as Vespers, Soul Matters Groups, and Wednesday Programs at UUCAsheville. On November 28 I will be leading worship “Gratitude & Songs.” I invite you to consider being part of the planning team and/or sharing songs or personal stories of gratitude. I look forward to our continued journey of faith development.

Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development