Interdependent Web: Getting a mission on

Interdependent Web: Getting a mission on

A weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism.


Getting a mission on

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden writes that thriving congregations have a saving message.

Survival is not a mission. Religious institutions either have a saving message or they don’t. They know why they exist or they don’t.

Scrambling to keep up with the changes in culture and demographics is not enough. That’s method, not mission. No mantras, just some clear thinking. (Quest for Meaning, May 12)

Angela Denk looks for a congregation that will welcome her gay daughter, trying first an Episcopal church, and then a UU one.

We went expecting banners. Well, maybe not banners, but a banner. A rainbow, perhaps, hung near the door to signify that our family was welcome there too. What we found instead was a church like any other. There was a chapel populated with people and prayer, a pipe organ, a choir. Brown beams, high ceiling, white walls. It felt like a place where one could be quietly gay, but my daughter—being at such a crucial age—needed a rally.

“Let’s try the Unitarian church,” I said to her. Unitarian was a word I’d only heard whispered in Kentucky; I doubt my daughter had ever heard it before. I think we knew at first blush that we’d found our church home. Last month, the congregation’s adult LGBTQ support group threw her a surprise coming out party. (She Knows, May 9)

The Rev. Jake Morrill responds to an anonymous person who left anti-gay cards in the windows of cars in his church’s parking lot.

Your little card’s message concludes, “Repent and Turn to Jesus Christ.” Funny: it’s exactly what I try to do every day of my life. It’s why I show up where I know I’ll learn something about charity, something about mercy, about forgiveness, something about walking humbly with God. It’s why I was inside, with the straights and the gays alike this morning, having a blast in worship, singing at the top of my lungs, while you were skulking about, all alone, in the hot sun. So you can use words of faith to justify the man-made dark fantasy of your own fisted heart. You can mis-use the Bible to prop up your bigotry. But it is my sincere prayer that, some day, when you’re ready, you’ll put aside your little fearful note-passing game, and be so bold as to receive the great love that awaits if you come to church one Sunday with a humble heart, and a spirit of repentance. (Facebook, May 8)

Real conversations

Tina Porter acknowledges that she’s been struggling with a particularly difficult bout of depression.

I recognized the symptoms. Depression isn’t new to me, but I don’t recall ever having been in it so long or so deep. It took me until recently and with loving prodding to realize how profoundly it had come to affect my family, my marriage, my career, let alone my own sense of self. . . .

Why am I telling you this? Maybe because May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I’ve seen other people I know sharing what depression looks like for them. (Ugly Pies, May 11)

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein writes that, “ Aging requires huge courage, but very few of us talk about that.”

Admit that you are not aiming for longevity, but intensity of life, and watch people freak out!

I have a front row seat to the progress of time in the ordinary person’s life and it makes me mad that we shield our eyes from the realities of how Time works on all bodies. (Facebook, May 12)

Sustainable ministry

The Rev. Tom Schade reports on two ideas that emerged from the recent Summit on the Economic Sustainability of Ministry

#1. We need “OWL FOR MONEY.” There is a soul sickness and an ignorance about money in our society. We need to an educational program for different ages and circumstances that teaches about money and leads people in a process to discern their values and relationship to the economic dimensions of life. . . .

#2. We need a network of organizations that are training lay ministers. . . . Those organizations need to learn from each other, develop best practices and begin the work on unifying around common systems of accountability. (The Lively Tradition, May 9)

Liz James argues for a scaled-back option for clergy credentialing.

In a changing world, what is needed of clergy is going to be radically different from situation to situation. It is pretty prideful to think that a central body can imagine what competencies--beyond basic safety--that the average Minister will need in placements across the continent and over coming decades. Congregations and communities can do what other groups do... look at a resume, get to know someone, and decide if they meet their needs. A congregation can decide that they want a candidate with a fully fellowshipped list of credentials (that designation should absolutely still exist). But it should not be a requirement in order for someone to access the search process, or collegiality. (Facebook, May 9)

And more

The Rev. Andrew Weber values the boundaries he encounters when his enthusiasm propels him to ask too much of others.

I received a very kind but also firm, “No” and “Hold on a second Andrew, this isn’t what we had signed up for.” This response was a blessing to me and to those I was pushing. Saying “no” can be extremely difficult. It can feel unloving or shirking of responsibility. But saying “no” is also an extremely important practice. It takes experience to know what our limits are. And it takes commitment and courage to stand up to those limits. (How to Drive Like a Minister, May 10)

The Rev. Erika Baron shares a retelling of the Snow White story.

Bella began to worry that she would not always be as beautiful as she was. . . . Once she had this fear, looking in the mirror suddenly changed. Bella used to look at herself and find all the things about her face and body that were lovely. But now she began to inspect herself for anything that might be ugly. And slowly she began to find things. A spot here. A bit of skin there that didn’t look exactly right. An odd shaped lump or two beneath the surface. And these flaws began to pile up.

Finally, one day when she stood in front of her mirror, it became absolutely clear to her that she was no longer the most beautiful in the land. (Nature’s Path, May 6)