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2019-09-19

From the Minister, Thu Sep 19

Dear Ones,

In 2011-12, our congregation -- then CUC (Community Unitarian Church) -- began a search for a next minister. A search committee was selected, and one of its early orders of business was guiding a process of drafting a "Congregational Record" that would tell prospective ministers what sort of congregation CUC was. The final document is about 20 pages long.

By late 2012, our CUC Congregational Record was complete. I read it, expressed my interest in serving the congregation thus described, . . . and the rest is history.

In 2012, asked, "To what degree does the congregation possess a dominant theology?" here's what we said:
The congregation can best be described as non-theistic. Humanism and Buddhism are as important as Christianity and Judaism in shaping our religious/spiritual beliefs and practices, which also honor family and community rituals and traditions. Most of us believe in the interdependence and interconnectedness of all things and that people live on only in memory and accomplishments. Very few of us were raised as UUs; our most common prior religious affiliations include Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish.
Our Congregational Record noted that New York life can be fast-faced, that our members' lives were "very active with extensive obligations and opportunities," and added:
This is all the more reason we come to CUC, for a time of pause, reflection and friendship.
The Record stresses community:
This sense of community - cohesive, sustaining, and enduring - is one of our primary strengths and values, and as important to any description of our congregation as demographics and statistics. CUC is "our" congregation. We take pride in our century long history, and we even take pride in the fact that the community has successfully navigated periods of strife and disruption.
We described the role of Sunday morning worship this way:
The most important reason most congregants cite for attending CUC is Sunday "worship services." We value Sunday services because they provide intellectually stimulating and challenging sermons, celebrate our common values, and offer an opportunity for an uplifting emotional experience that includes personal reflection and meditation. The sermon is the most significant element of the worship service for us. Music, including our regular pianist, our choir and guest performers, is also an essential and integral part of our worship experience.
The Record describes many, many other aspects of our congregation. But these are the parts that the Committee on Ministry and I -- and Sabbatical Minister Rev. Kimberley Debus -- would like to update and substantially flesh out. Who are we now? Why do we come to CUUC? As we head into the 2020s, what are the major and the minor theological and spiritual orientations in our congregation today? About which religious questions do we want to know, experience, and explore more -- and to which questions are we pretty satisfied with the answers we've got?

Many of us were drawn to the "pause, reflection, and friendship" -- and to community as "our primary strength and value." We like worship to "provide intellectually stimulating and challenging sermons, celebrate our common values, and offer an opportunity for an uplifting emotional experience." I expect that that's still true, but can we dig a bit deeper? Can we look hard at such questions as:
  • What do you imagine spiritual growth and faith development might look like for you?
  • What kind of healing might congregational life afford you?
  • As a spiritual seeker, what can you say about what you are seeking?
  • What are you yearning to do more of to develop peace and wisdom?
With questions like these, answers must necessarily be fuzzy and bit vague. We cannot provide much detail about where we're headed until we get there. Still, let us turn these questions over and see what we might learn about ourselves and one other.

Yours in faith,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit

Find videos of many past services at our Youtube channel: HERE

This week, a new video went up from the Sep 15 service:
  • Invocation, Prayer, and Sermon: "Climate Strike!"
This video is below. You can also find it at our Youtube channel, along with many others.

The print version of the sermon, slightly revised, was divided into four parts and posted at The Liberal Pulpit:


Sun Sep 15: "Climate Strike!"


Practice of the Week: Relax /When you get stressed or upset, your body tenses up to fight, flee, or freeze. That's Mother Nature's way, and its short-term benefits kept our ancestors alive to pass on their genes. But today — when people can live seventy or eighty years or more, and when quality of life (not mere survival) is a priority — we pay a high, long-term price for daily tension. READ MORE.
Your Moment of Zen: Liberation /In #111, Woodpecker asked, "What does it mean to cross to the other shore?" I commented then that Woodpecker should know better than to ask such questions, but Raven answered, "Flowers crowd the cliffs." Nevertheless,  in #112, Woodpecker asked, "What is the Way?"

Unable to grasp the many kind explanations Raven has already given, Woodpecker now asks yet another variation on the same question. Raven, whose compassion knows no bounds, patiently explains.

Case
Helping Raven arrange the flowers before a meeting, Woodpecker asked, "What's liberation?"
Raven said, "Another couple of daffodils on this side, I think."
Woodpecker said "You're not answering my question."
Raven said, "Daffodils."
Verse
The orange five-ball, rolling across the green felt,
Its vector determined by
angle and magnitude of the force that acted upon it:
So utterly free, so totally liberated.
I, watching, cue stick in hand:
Another matter.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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