I’ve heard this season called the ‘second New Year’ of the year. It certainly has that energy in my household, as we all recreate the patterns of our daily living after summertime flow and fun. Each year there are twists and changes to match the changing needs of our family, with new carpools, new school start-times, new activities. Each year there are adjustments to be made.
And so it goes with the patterns of congregational life as well. We ended ‘last year’ (i.e. June, 2017) with a big project at hand — having selected an architect and begun planning for a capital campaign. This fall we will invite the congregation to make more decisions to propel us forward in our desire to be a ‘Center for Spiritual Exploration and Justice-Making.’ I have extreme gratitude for the members of the Building Committee and Combined Capital Campaign Committee for all their hard work this summer.
As we enter into this congregational year, let us remember that this vision we have — to bring more love, reason, compassion, and justice into the world — and the new facility we hope to create to facilitate that — is bigger than us. Much bigger. While it will be nice to have a bigger kitchen, more space for kids, and a social hall for us, our highest calling is to provide a more inclusive welcome, a refuge, a place of hope and a catalyst for justice, in a world that is in deep pain. Let us not forget that.
That calling goes way beyond anything we can build with bricks and mortar. It is connected to the heart and soul of how we are with one another, and an inner desire to create that more inclusive welcome in an increasingly divisive world. With that must come a deep look at how to expand our welcome, as well as what we may be unconsciously doing and saying that comes across as exclusive. To help us on that journey, the elected leadership will be reading the book Salsa, Soul and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age. I invite all of you to explore its teachings.
In that light, we are trying something new right from the start, with our annual ‘merging of the waters.’ There is much talk within the denomination about how the practice of that ritual — the naming of where our water is from — does not match the intent of the service, that of welcome and belonging. In fact, it can feel exclusive to people who don’t have the economic privilege to travel. No matter how it has been framed it — “share what is meaningful to you about this water” — it’s hard for this ritual not to turn into a travel log.
So, on Sunday, September 10, you will be invited to write down how the water is meaningful to you, including where it is from, if that’s important to you. You will bring that slip of paper, along with your water up with you, and build upon a piece of art, as you silently pour your water into our common bowl. I am anticipating a moving ritual that brings us closer together.
Then, as your kids enjoy the water slide, you can give your input to the current building plans at our Town Hall meeting following the 11 a.m. service.
So join in on this glorious start to a year of big beautiful change for a more inclusive future together!
May you be well,
If you would like more resources on changes to the Water Ceremony in UU congregations, visit: