The Minister’s Musings on Beloved Community

Our Soul Matters theme for the month of February is “Beloved Community.”
  This phrase was popularized by Martin Luther King, Jr who envisioned a
world in which resources are shared, peace and nonviolence are the norm,
and poverty and bigotry cease to exist.  What are we doing, individually
and collectively, to work toward this vision?

As we reach the halfway point of our first year of interim ministry work
together, I thought this might be a good time to reflect on the five
focus points of interim ministry, how they strengthen a congregation,
and how they prepare us to build the Beloved Community within and beyond
our walls.

The first focus point for congregations in transition is heritage.  What
is the history of our congregation?  What are the stories we joyfully
celebrate?  What are the stories we would rather forget?  Examining the
past allows us to build on the accumulated strengths of the church and
address lingering grief and concerns.  Learning to do this contributes
to our work in the larger world of building the Beloved Community. 
Which stories from our broader cultural and national history do we
joyfully celebrate, and which ones would we rather forget?  How do we
learn about our history of justice and injustice, peace and violence,
and how is that history impacting us today?

The second focus point for congregations in transition is leadership. 
Who has been leading here at TOLUUC (with or without formal
positions/titles)?  Who might emerge as a leader moving forward?  What
support or development do these leaders need?  Thinking about leadership
is important to building the Beloved Community beyond TOLUUC as well. 
Who is currently leading effective movements for peace and justice, and
how are future leaders being cultivated?

The third focus point for congregations in transition is mission.  What
is our sense of purpose and direction as a congregation?  What guides
our work together?  What are our core values, and how are these
reflected in our formal statements of mission and vision?  In working
toward Beloved Community, what are the values that can bring together
diverse groups of people in a world of nonviolence and shared resources?

The fourth focus point for congregations in transition is connections.
How are we linked to the regional, national, and international
expressions of Unitarian Universalism?  Are we in relationship with
other church communities and organizations in our area?  Thinking beyond
our congregation, what formal and informal connections are needed to
build the Beloved Community?  How are groups working together toward
this vision?

The fifth focus point for congregations in transition is future.  In
light of the previous four focus points, what decisions will be made for
the ongoing life of this congregation?  By focusing on these areas
together during the interim period, we are preparing Tree of Life for
strong, sustainable future ministry.  We are also developing valuable
skills for working toward the broader vision of Beloved Community – a
vision that might be more fully realized if we think of our whole world
as one in transition, in an “interim period,” with many open
possibilities for the future.

If you have any questions about these points and what they might mean
for us over the next year and a half feel free to reach out to me. I
love to talk about congregations in transition!

In Faith,

Rev. Jenn Gracen

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