I’m not sure you know it, but your staff is exceptionally creative. Sometimes we’re so creative we’re afraid to try an idea because it’s “too radical.” For instance, Rev. Claudia and I had several ideas to completely change our Sunday morning worship once we fully resumed after COVID. What if we used up three hours on Sunday mornings by having faith development activities for one hour (for all—some age-appropriate, some mixed ages), a snack/social time for some time period, and a gathering time that would be worship? Or, what if we changed worship so that it was an abbreviated service followed by breakout sessions of art, discussion, videos, etc.? Or what if we just used one Sunday morning a month and called it Potpourri Sunday, and you wouldn’t know what was happening until you got here (and it would definitely be a happening!)?
In the UU seminar I attended at the start of the month, I listened to Dr. Anthony Pinn, a professor of religion at Rice University, as he spoke about going so far beyond “outside the box” thinking that it borders on fantasy. The two facts that practically had me jump out of my chair were 1) UUism is wildly diverse in its religious underpinnings but always includes a strong justice element and 2) our church services look just like Christian worship (same form, different content).
He went on from there but I’m pretty sure the following idea is a blend of what he said and what I was thinking about when he was talking. You can give him full credit though.
What if our gatherings were designed to support individual justice work? We could gather to examine our values and our feelings as we work for justice in whatever manner we choose (in our paid work, in our volunteerism, in our families). We would not necessarily have a church-wide justice initiative, though we could. We could establish a reflective practice with other UU Ashevilleans and be accountable to/with our friends. The time together could start with a worship form (or forms) that makes sense for this—inspiring words and music perhaps, a conversation-starting video, a drumming practice….
And why Sunday mornings? Could this happen multiple times per week? Weekdays, evenings, weekends? What kind of building might we need? Would we need a worship space with pews? Would we need a space to hold hundreds of people? Would we still want to hold RE classes for school-age children and youth on Sunday mornings because it is probably culturally easier? Is it?
This is fantastical future thinking, and it’s these kinds of ideas we hope you are thinking about, too!
Here’s your assignment: Who will we be and how will we act as a congregation once the critical phase of the pandemic ends and a new ministry begins?
Linda Topp, Director of Administration