February 2018

Every human being has inherent worth and dignity. Every human being has a right to live in a world that is equitable and just.

How well do I embody those beliefs? What can I do, to make them more fully part of who I am in the core of my being? To be in right relationship with people whose lives and experiences are different from my own? To live with the privileges I have and did nothing to earn?

I spent the past week at a national conference for Unitarian Universalist ministers. Those questions and their cousins dogged me all week. They were part of the explicit and implicit curriculum of our meeting.

The conference was near Tampa, at a large golf resort called Innisbrook. Some might question the choice of a golf resort for a ministerial gathering. This resort was designed, and is maintained, with responsible stewardship for the earth in mind. They minimize use of fertilizer and pesticides. Walkways and roads follow circuitous routes designed around the largest trees, and coarse native grass and natural mulch cover the areas sur-rounding the fairways. Another reason for selecting the site was that it is part of a company founded by Sheila C. Johnson, an African American woman who is also a co-founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET). We attended workshops, and we worshipped together every day. I sang in the choir led by Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout, a singer, conductor, preacher and storyteller, who serves as Music Director for the UU church in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Most of our music was from the African American tradition. We learned by rote, in the African American tradition.

We worshipped together every day with laughter and tears, in shared distress for the state of our country and planet, and in shared commitment to keep on keeping on. Nearly all of our worship leaders were people who identify as non-white, and/or who identify as other than heterosexual. I was stretched and challenged, moved and inspired.

How do we embody our values and beliefs? One way is to deliberately break the mold of whose words and music and leadership are perpetually at the center. I’m grateful my ministerial colleagues organized a gathering that not only posed questions, but showed commitment to seeking real answers. I invite you to join me in asking and responding to the questions for yourself, and on behalf of our own beloved faith community.

February is Black History month, and our monthly theme is Justice.

I am humbled and grateful to be your minister.   Janets signature