Beloveds, I am proud to serve as your UUA President as together we begin another chapter in the story of our liberal and liberating faith. The celebration and love you showed me at General Assembly in Pittsburgh fortify me as I move into this shared ministry with all of you. Thank you for a beautiful beginning.
As Unitarian Universalists, personal story rests at the heart of what we know about interdependence, justice, generosity, equity, pluralism, and transformation. It invites us to wrestle with how we center love and lean into our common values in everyday life. My words echo the language expressed in the proposed revision to Article II. Yet our interpretations of UU values shape the stories we tell one another about who and how we are in the world. As a community we have long relied on life experience to guide us in our religious explorations, saving us from “living an unexamined faith” as our Unitarian theologian James Luther Adams regularly cautioned against. This key teaching from our common theological inheritance centers the value of faithful stories, most particularly when shared in Beloved Community.
What are the stories that shift and shape your understanding of yourself? What in recent years has caused you to question or reimagine the way that you understand the world around you? Perhaps most importantly, have you had the opportunity to share that journey with someone else—to risk telling your story?
Adams valued a diversity of belief in our congregations and insisted that we engage a wide variety of perspectives that continually bring us back to love, in order to claim the benefits of an examined faith. The challenge is that accessing the pluralism we value requires us to share our stories well. This is central to the kind of communal care we offer to one another in our UU congregations and communities.
I truly believe that risking our stories teaches us something we could not have learned in any other way. Yet taking such risk requires trust. It requires being in a place where we know we will be listened to, and held, in love. A place that allows us to finish the telling stronger than we began it, because our community will know us more fully, and love us just as much.
That give and take is one of the greatest gifts that we offer to each other, and it lives and breathes in this tradition. It is the heartbeat that grounds our values and guides us in our work for justice. Let us hold one another’s faithful witness with compassion and respect so that our stories can guide us in the days to come.