Intern Insights: Half Time

We are quickly approaching the middle of winter. Honestly, it is half over and that is a wonderful thing. As a congregation, we have made a few plays prior to the snow slowing us down, we have gone into the huddle when the wind began to blow and we scored a few points when Rev. Sean made sure that our members were all safe by cancelling several services. But we have made it through the first half and we are getting our breath back and headed for the final half. Thank you for braving the cold and the snow, thank you for understand when we have to cancel a service and thank you for coming to church when you can.

The other part of this half time is my internship. It seems hard to believe but I am half way through my internship here at Tree of Life. I am so grateful that I have been allowed this time with the congregation, the staff and Rev. Sean. I have been spending this time working on and preaching sermons, visiting people and learning from the committees. Every part of what I do on a daily basis is helping me with my formation and I have all of you to thank. My internship ends on June 1st which seems like it is such a long time away, a time when the sun will be shining, the birds will be playing in birdbaths and there will be no slippery spots on the road, but that is only four months away. During the second half of my internship I will continue to do the things I have been doing and hopefully will be getting better at all I am doing here at Tree of Life.

Congregational Conversations

There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.

Ask: “What’s possible?” not “What’s wrong?”  Keep asking.
Notice what you care about. Assume that many others share your dreams.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.

~Margaret Wheatley, from “Turning to One Another”

Dear Friends,

As 2014 begins, your Board would like to start with you a “conversation that matters.” More than one conversation, actually. And it’s not that we haven’t been having some of those already. The Board’s increased visibility, thanks to Sue McCowin’s creative “wardrobe enhancements” such as neon fedoras and sequined ties, seems to have led to increased congregational contact, as some of you have shared your questions, concerns and ideas with us during coffee hour.

Now we’d like to extend and open up those conversations. Over the next five months, Rev. Sean will be preaching about elements of our statement of purpose: Freedom in faith; Spiritual growth; Celebration of diversity; Commitment to Action; Devotion. On the last Sunday of each month, members of the Board (along with, at times, members of various committees) will gather during coffee hour with any and all who wish, to share information, hear your ideas and opinions, and consider together how these aspects of our statement of purpose inform our decision making.

Our first Congregational Conversation will be Sunday, January 26. The Board will share an update on the financial health of the church, and field your questions and ideas. As the January theme is “Freedom in Faith”, members of the Worship Arts Committee will also be on hand to hear what you think about the format and content of Sunday worship. It is my hope that in the coming months, all of you will join us in having “a conversation that matters.”

Sincerely,

Carol

 

January 26–Living an Expansive Faith

NicCAs we enter into a time of Growing the Tree of Life, Nic Cable, a life-long UU, Candidate for ministry, and member of the Stewardship and Development Team at the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, will offer us reflective space to consider what living an expansive faith might look like for us individually and as a religious community.

Minister’s Mind: Freedom in Faith

For the next few months, our themes will explore the words and phrases of our Statement of Purpose, which we say each week when we’re together:

We journey as a family toward spiritual growth,
freedom in faith,
celebration of diversity,
commitment to action,
devotion to each other,
the community
and the Earth.

This month, we’ll explore “Freedom in Faith”–one of the core commitments of not only our congregation, but Unitarians and Universalists throughout history and our current Association of Congregations. From the time people began arguing about religion–and who would decide which theological ideas were “right” (orthodox) or “wrong” (heresy)–there have been those who insisted that each person must have the freedom to determine for themselves what is true and right and good.

Now, centuries later, religious freedom is a hot topic again. Our Catholic neighbors use it as a rallying cry to argue that they should not be required to provide medical care that conflicts with their teachings. Religious minorities all over the world fight to be freed from the painful powers that try to control their minds, bodies, and spirits.

We are privileged, in our particular culture and context, to enjoy an incredible amount of religious freedom. Attacks on it come and go, mostly affecting the rights and lives of women and the poor among us. I sometimes wonder if we understand the value of the treasure we’ve been given. I often wonder how we might make better use, individually and collectively, of our freedom in faith. I hope this month’s explorations help  deepen both our gratitude and commitment to religious freedom.