Du Bois’s words are a call to action. They challenge us, as Unitarian Universalists, to ask the question: How can we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow? We live in complicated times, and it is clear to me that now, more than ever, our values are needed to help heal our wounded world. If we have the courage to work together, we will strengthen our congregations and amplify our public voice to increase the impact of our faith on the world around us. There will never be a more convenient time.
Over the past three years, I have asked thousands of Unitarian Universalists how the Association can most help our congregations. Your responses told me consistently that Unitarian Universalists feel urgency about growth. And that is why, at General Assembly in June, I announced the launch of “Now Is the Time! A Campaign to Grow Our Faith,” with the words of Du Bois on my mind and in my heart. This comprehensive fundraising campaign will support the growth of Unitarian Universalism in its many dimensions.
Now is the time to pool our resources to make ourselves known to all those seeking a liberal religious home. Now is the time for our congregations to grow stronger and more effective. Let us summon the courage to let the world know we are here and what we stand for.
We are better together than we ever could be alone, and so I hope you will join me in celebrating our first Association Sunday. On October 14 (or a more convenient Sunday this fall) I am asking every one of our congregations to schedule a special service and to contribute to Now Is the Time! by taking a special collection to support our growth in numbers. (Resources are available at www.uua.org/giving; see below for a link.) Funds raised this year will go to support a national advertising and awareness campaign, the successful settlement of ministers of color, and growth grants offered to individual congregations. Over the following four years, we will address growth in leadership, diversity, spirit, and witness, because we recognize that to become stronger, we must grow in more than just numbers.
Today, I want to thank every congregation for your generous contributions to the Annual Program Fund year in and year out. Without these, the Association simply could not function. But it is time to pool our resources to implement the visionary growth projects which, at least for now, cannot be undertaken with the support of our operating budget alone. These leading-edge ideas need the support of comprehensive campaign funds to help secure the future and vitality of our faith community.
And we have already borne witness to the successes of our regional marketing campaigns, beginning in Kansas City, then in Houston, in Southern California, and now in Northern California. We have advertised our faith through direct mail, newspaper inserts, and public radio spots, and have learned that there are many people out there yearning for what we have to offer, if only we show them where to find us and welcome them with open hearts. These successes were only made possible by the generosity of many individual Unitarian Universalists from many congregations banded together.
As I imagine national growth projects, I am drawn back to the words of Du Bois. Though it may be hard, now is the time to transform our faith to become as strong and influential as we can be. There will never be a more convenient time. Join me in celebrating Association Sunday. Let us affirm our common bonds and purposes, because we are better together.