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Adventures in Spiritual Inovation
Stories from a Radical Evolutionist
Thomas Earthman prompted a post from me with this:
Writing Prompt:
With the prevalence of blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels, some by ministers, some representing congregations, and some by dedicated lay persons, we all have the option of reading/listening to a dozen "sermons" a week.
With our open sourced, non-centralized, non-creedal faith, are we approaching a point where some people no longer need to attend services on Sunday to feel intellectually engaged? If so, how do we need to form our "covenanted communities" to serve these UUs who are still very much needed in our religious movement?

If the primary thing UU's seek is intellectual stimulation in isolation, then we're in deep, deep, trouble. Fortunately, I don't think that's the case.
My sense is that most of the sermons which get posted to the web whether on YouTube, church website or iTunes podcast fall in two broad categories:
1) Advertising - if you want to hear the sequel to this sermon come to this congregation and hear it in person!
2) Conversation with other ministers - This is my take on issue X, I'll be monitoring my colleagues sermons for responses.
and perhaps a few into category 3:
3) Hey Search Committees - listen, be wowed, and rescue me from this place!

On the individual level there is one thing that Podcast can't touch, and Youtube and Facebook can only make small inroads to - and that is Physical Community. This is the one facet which brick and mortar churches still retain a huge advantage on. This is why the CLF, though the largest congregation in the UUA hasn't absorped the hundreds of UU lay-led fellowships out there. The internet can't (yet) replicate in person interaction on a mass level. Yes, you can comment on videos, you can even live chat during streaming videos - but anyone who has done it will tell you - It's nowhere near the same.

My sense of the matter is that while this new media will draw in relatively few new people to physical congregations, it will also impede very few from attending in person. And those who don't attend, because all they sought out of this relationship was a bit of intellectual stimulation, aren't necessarily going to be people who would be easily motivated to help build an institution of liberal religion. For the vast majority of people who participate in this media - they will still participate in the life of their respective communities, but they will do so with a deeper understanding than they would have had otherwise.

So it's all happiness & light, right? Well, not really.
There are also unintended consequences to this as well. Or as the economists say, no good deed ever goes unpunished.
If there's a lot of high quality, engaging, intellectual material around for free on the internet, why pay top dollar for it at church?

This won't mean that there will be an overnight sea change to abandon paid ministry, as such decisions are more honed thru
social norms than pure economics. But a generation ago, it seemed that if your congregation was over 75 or 80 members, it
was time to get full-time congregationally-called minister. Now at that membership level, you might have a half-time contract
minister. Also, as congregations get more "mission-focused" (in part at UUA urging) many in the congregation will view making
long-term staff commitments as a huge drain on the church's capacity to pursue its "mission." Where this would play out most
dramatically is at the size of congregation that might "just barely" be able to afford a F/T minister. It's also the size of congregation
that the UUA has most of.
This would also lead to a slow decline in the number of available Full Time pulpits, even *if* overall UUA membership does not
decline, which is far from given. So if most of the people coming out of seminary can expect at best a temporary or part time
ministry position, what is it about UU seminary that makes it work accruing $60,000+ in debt?

The very smallest congregations will largely be unaffected by this, as they had little reason to think they could afford staff to begin
with. The very largest might have staff to be able to leverage online content to enrich the physical experience of church.

Current Location: United States, Texas, Bedford
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

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OK a few years have gone by since I last used this blog, and I've been inspired to pick it back up. But I thought I'd do a bit of "housecleaning"

First of all, I'm not longer at Sacred Journey Fellowship. I left there about two years ago when we bought a new house in Bedford, just a couple miles away from Pathways UU where I've been at since November of 2011. SJF has fallen on hard times, unfortunately one of the downsides of being so small is that when key players leave there's little to no back bench to fill in the vaccines. So they're back down to about a dozen members. I pop in couple times a year just to check up on them.

CUUPS is still around and I'm still on their board. The GA mentioned on the last post went well overall, but I over extended myself and ended up with pneumonia. That actually happens depressingly often with me and GA's. But beyond the GA stuff, there are some interesting things brew behind the scenes at CUUPS which I'll be posting about in the near future.

What's got my "butt in gear" at the moment was the creation of a UU Blogging group on Facebook. Yes, the same Facebook that sucked out all my energy for blogging on LiveJournal is now prompting me to start back up. 

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I've got too much to write to put it in Facebook, and figured that since it's primarily UU in nature it fit better under this ID than my dop4 ID.

Trip was moderately uneventful, generally a GOOD thing.

So I get checked-in at the hotel, go over to the conference center and register and get credentialed; then run down to the CUUPS Booth and there is Christa holding down the fort with minimal material, because most of it resides on my iPad in pdf form. However, we do have the CUUPS Banner up, so people say that we're there and a few drop by and say hi. But since everyone is still setting up, there's not much going on. At the end of the set up time, the Exhibit Hall starts to close and Christa runs home to print off the forms and pamphlets we'll need for tomorrow.

Where's the CUUPS Banner?

I was there to carry my congregation's banner, but who was going to carry the CUUPS banner. They wouldn't let us "register" the banner for the parade, because its not a congregation - but it was OK for it to "be" in the parade. Apparently the registration is so that they can keep track of them afterwards, as congregational banners get hung up on the walls of the convention center and are on display for the rest of the week. However, we didn't want the CUUPS banner hung up with the congregation banners anyway - because we use it at our booth.
Anyway, at the last moment I come across a Long lapsed board member of CUUPS, Rev. Rod Debs and beg to him to carry the CUUPS banner in the parade and he graciously said, "Yes." However, in my haste to secure is acceptance, I totally forgot to tell him about the banner not being registered and that we didn't want it hung up with the congregational banners.
I realized this halfway through the parade and so when I was done, I waited around the banner pole tear down area in (vain) hopes of catching him. No such luck.  In fact, I haven't seen him since shortly before the parade.
So I presume that the CUUPS banner is buried (without any identifying paperwork) among 500-700 congregational banners and is being hoisted up for everyone to see in the convention center as I type. (head desk, head desk, head desk.)
So tomorrow morning, I will examine the congregation banners on display with unusual focus and see if I can find the CUUPS banner.

Minneapolis - the city that gets a lot of sleep.

The first night, the GA has it's opening festivities, the banner parade with several hundred banners of congregations from all over the world, related organizations, etc. opening worship, a message from UUA President Morales, and inspirational music (no, I'm being sarcastic - it was a live performance by Peter Meyer - truly inspirational. The preceding were scheduled to run to 9:30pm, and GA being - well, GA ran a tad bit late. Unfortunately, every single restaurant in the downtown Minneapolis area closes at 10pm or even earlier. And there are no Denny's or IHOP's in the downtown area. I was lucky enough to have a convenience store next to our hotel so at least I had Lean Pockets, orange juice and Milano cookies for dinner.   Getting decent nutrition here may take a bit of scheduling ingenuity.

The CUUPS (not so) Suite.

This year, to get its members to GA, the CUUPS board decided to reimburse up to $200 in travel and/or lodging expenses per member for General Assembly. Thinking that would mean everybody would come, I found a sweetheart of a deal - the Comfort Suite about 4 blocks from the convention center would let us have a suite with 2 double beds *and* a fold out couch for under $90 a night - when all the "official" GA hotels we asking $135-175 for less spacious accommodations.
Fairly early on, Dick Merritt and Ollis Hughes said they would be able to make GA this year. Then, someone from my congregation who had planned to share the room with us also had to bail for financial reasons. Then last month Rev. Michael Walker got a new job at Rowe Camp and Conference Center that required he be in New England during GA. However, Christa came thru for us and found a minister who wanted to room here with me - however, his trip is taking a bit longer than expected so tonight I'm alone in a suite of rooms. (oh well) It doesn't really doesn't do for me to whine too much though, being in the suite by myself is only a few dollars more expensive than splitting a room at one of the "official" GA hotels.
So instead of socializing, I type lengthy LJ entries. (grin)
I need to get some sleep anyway.

Current Location: Minneapolis, Comfort Suites
Current Mood: tired tired
Current Music: Peter Meyer: Blue Boat Home

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So I was talking to our congregation's president late this week about the evolving flu situation here in Texas - and thinking that if it goes with past pandemics (think 1918) we may face a situation where it may be difficult and / or unhealthful for some of our membership to attend services at church. If that was the case, it would not be technically impossible for us to post podcasts of our Sunday services on the web.
Does anyone have advice on the equiptment needed for this?

Alternatively would it be able to remotely compile services _on the web_ as specific "virtual services."  There are some technical problems here specifically with how our services being Earth-centered emphasize the experiential over a more traditional old school humanist UU "lecture" Sunday service. (This is also why online ritual has never appealed to me despite having an almost spiritual love of high tech.) Then, there's copyright issues on chants, other music and whatnot.

Speaking of planning, we have just completed drafting a 5yr strategic plan. It foresees us in 5 yrs having "at least" 75 members and a part-time minister. Both of which, if they come to pass, would be a first for an Earth-centered UU congregation. Our previous plan ( a 2.5 yr "mid-term plan") anticipated us doubling in size to 25-30 members by Aug. 2009 - as of the end of April we were at 32 members.

This Sunday we've got a May Day celebration with Robin Goodfellow (aka Puck) which brings in the a couple of our 8-10 year old boys from the RE department to participate in our service. Then next Sunday we'll be exploring how the UUA governs itself, the upcoming presidential election and our parish poll on that issue.

Current Location: Hurst, TX
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
Current Music: John Williams - The Two Towers: Samwise the Brave

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As it's been over six months since my last update - I'm overdue.

About a year ago at this time - I was wondering if the congregation would survive. Now, we're wondering what we'll do when we outgrown our building.
As of my last update, we'd doubled our membership from its low point. Well, Texas summers are rough, particularly when you've got a membership where many are only marginally employed, so we lost a few. But since Thanksgiving we've had a steady drumbeat of new members joining so that we've got about five more than we did in May. However the truly hopeful sign, is that our attendance has grown
by an even larger margin. We've gone from average Sunday attendance in the midteens to when we've averaged over 30 folks in the building on Sunday since Thanksgiving - including the Winter Solstice Sunday when we "broke the law" by exceeding our maximum capacity of 49.

So as you see, Kali didn't do a coupe de grace on us as some had fearred. She left us in pretty good shape. A lot of old stuff got thrown out. Quite a few feathers got ruffled.  But we were better off for it once the dust settled.
This past summer we had our second Patron auction. It started off with a very spirited penny auction where 20 or so nominees battled it out over five weeks to a final three of Athena, Epona and Gaia. On the next to last Saturday of August we got together for the Patron auction night and had a great time. A series of questions were asked of each candidate and our community voted with their dollars and their canned goods. By the end of the evening we had raised over 400 nonperishable food items for local tood pantries and $675 for PVUUC - as well as selected Athena as our new Patron.

Life under Athena:
We've got our kids RE up and running for the first time since the 2002-3 church year. Not just with a dedicated volunteer, but also with folks to back her up and usually run two classes a Sunday (roughly divided into "readers" and "pre-readers/nursury") For the adults, we've had tarot and Paganism 101 classes as well as Gaelic (Irish) Language classes - which are all ongoing.
We've got a group of folks working on a Long Range Plan - revamping our Mission and Vision Statements as well as established a process for selecting a new name - as nearly all of our membership are uncomfortable with using the word "Church" as part of our organization's name.
People within the congregation are reaching out and taking active roles in community organizations, establishing strategic bonds or relationships between us and our UU cluster, Earth Rhythms, as well as taking key positions in the local Pagan Pride Day planning group.
While Athena is also a goddess of war, she is also one of wisdom and is wise enough to know when NOT to go to war. With that in mind, this week we established a Peace Altar on our West wall dedicated to the children of Gaza.

While Kali might no longer be our patron the transformation to our physical site that her patronage kicked off still continues. We've got 8 of 11 boxes of bamboo flooring on site to replace the worn out carpet in our library and hallway. The last three boxes will be bought by the end of January and  installed during February. Our kitchen and bathrooms have new tiling funded (but not yet purchased.)

One of our most recent developments is that one our newest members has volunteered to be a Music Director - so we'll soon be organizing a chanting group./ choir for the first time in several years.

So, as we continue to grow in fits and starts my "Athena-nature" has me wondering what are the limits to it.  No Earth-Centered UU congregation has ever exceeded 50 members. Is there a cultural or sociological reason to it - or is it that so far there haven't been enough likeminded pagans in one locale. I don't think anyone really knows at this point. It is, in the truest sense - a Pagan Mystery.  One that i"m rather excited about learning the answer to. 

Current Mood: curious curious

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It's nice to see that future UU ministers are going to get a good education....

Current Location: Hurst, Texas
Current Mood: envious envious

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This morning's New York Times had an editorial by Harold Bloom on how the economic Panic of 1837 effected the thinking of Emerson.

It's deffinitely interesting reading for an student of Unitarian history. Bloom also show how strains of Transcendentalist thought are reflected in both of the major party presidential campaigns.

Current Location: Hurst, TX

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Read this at church for the Samhain service:

At my job, people die.

That's hardly our intention, but they die nonetheless.

Usually it's at the end of a long struggle — we have done everything modern medicine can do and then some, but we can't save them. Some part of their body, usually their lungs or their heart or their liver, has become too frail to function. These are the "good deaths," the ones where the family is present and knows what to expect. Like all deaths, these deaths are difficult, but they are controlled, unsurprising, anticipated.

And then there are the other deaths: quick and rare, where life leaves a body in minutes. In my hospital these deaths are "Condition A's." The "A" stands for arrest, as in cardiac arrest, as in this patient's heart has all of a sudden stopped beating and we need to try to restart it.

I am a new nurse, and recently I had my first Condition A. My patient, a particularly nice older woman with lung cancer, had been, as we say, "fine," with no complaints but a low-grade fever she'd had off and on for a couple of days. She had come in because she was coughing up blood, a problem we had resolved, and she was set for discharge that afternoon.

After a routine assessment in the morning, I left her in the care of a nursing student and moved on to other patients, thinking I was going to have a relatively calm day. About half an hour later an aide called me: "Theresa, they need you in 1022."

I stopped what I was doing and walked over to her room. The nurse leaving the room said, "She's spitting up blood," and went to the nurses' station to call her doctor.

Inside the room I found my patient with blood spilling uncontrollably from her mouth and nose. I remembered to put on gloves, and the aide handed me a face shield. I moved closer; I put my hand on her shoulder. "Are you in any pain?" I asked, as I recall, thinking that an intestinal bleed would be more fixable than whatever this was. She shook her head no.

I looked in her eyes and saw ... what? Panic? Fear? The abandonment of hope? Or sheer desperation? Her own blood was gurgling in her throat and I yelled to the student for a suction tool to clear it out.

The patient tried to stand up so the blood would flow into a nearby trash can, and I told her, "No, don't stand up." She sat back down, started shaking and then collapsed backward on the bed.

"Is it condition time?" asked the other nurse.

"Call the code!" I yelled. "Call the code!"

The next few moments I can only describe as surreal. I felt for a pulse and there wasn't one. I started doing CPR. On the overhead loudspeaker, a voice called out, "Condition A."

The other nurses from my floor came in with the crash cart, and I got the board. Doing CPR on a soft surface, like a bed, doesn't accomplish much; you need a hard surface to really compress the patient's chest, so every crash cart has a two-by-three-foot slab of hard fiberboard for just this purpose. I told one of the doctors to help pick her up so I could put the board under her: she was now dead weight, and heavy.

I kept doing CPR until the condition team arrived, which seemed to happen faster than I could have imagined: the intensivists — the doctors who specialize in intensive care — the I.C.U. nurses, the respiratory therapists and I'm not sure who else, maybe a pulmonologist, maybe a doctor from anesthesia.

Respiratory took over the CPR and I stood back against the wall, bloody and disbelieving. My co-workers did all the grunt work for the condition: put extra channels on her IV pump, recorded what was happening, and every now and again called out, "Patient is in asystole again," meaning she had no heartbeat.

They worked on her for half an hour. They tried to put a tube down her throat to get her some oxygen, but there was so much blood they couldn't see. Eventually they "trached" her, put a breathing hole through her neck right into her trachea, but that filled up with blood as well.

They gave her fluids and squeezed bags of epinephrine into her veins to try to get her heart to start moving. They may even have given her adenosine, a dangerous and terrifying drug that can reverse abnormal heart rhythms after briefly stopping the patient's heart.

The sad truth about a true cardiac arrest is that drugs cannot help because there is no cardiac rhythm for them to stimulate. The doctors tried anyway. They went through so many drugs that the crash cart was emptied out and runners came and went from pharmacy bringing extras.

When George Clooney and Juliana Margulies went through these routines on "E.R.," it seemed exciting and glamorous. In real life the experience is profoundly sad. In the lay vernacular of Hollywood, asystole is known as "flatlining." But my patient never had the easy narrative of the normal heartbeat that suddenly turns straight and horizontal. Her heartbeat line was wobbly and unformed, occasionally spiked in a brief run of unsynchronized beats, and at times looked regular, because chest compressions from CPR can create what looks like a real cardiac rhythm even though the patient is dead.

And my patient was dead. She had been dead when she fell back on the bed and she stayed dead through all the effort to save her, while blood and tissue bubbled out of her and the suction clogged with particles spilling from her lungs. Everyone did what she knew how to do to save her. She could not be saved.

The reigning theory was that part of her tumor had broken off and either ruptured her pulmonary artery or created a huge blockage in her heart. Apparently this can happen without warning in lung cancer patients. Only an autopsy could tell for sure, and in terms of the role I played in all this, it doesn't matter. I did the only thing I could do — all of us did — and you can't say much more than that.

I am 43. I came to nursing circuitously, following a brief career as an English professor. Often at work in the hospital I hear John Donne in my head:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so.

But after my Condition A I find his words empty. My patient died looking like one of the flesh-eating zombies from "28 Weeks Later," and indeed in real life, even in the world of the hospital, a death like this is unsettling.

What can one do? Go home, love your children, try not to bicker, eat well, walk in the rain, feel the sun on your face and laugh loud and often, as much as possible, and especially at yourself. Because the only antidote to death is not poetry, or drama, or miracle drugs, or a roomful of technical expertise and good intentions. The antidote to death is life.

Theresa Brown is a staff nurse at a hospital in Pennsylvania.

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A couple months back I attended my district's (SWUUC) Annual Meeting in Austin, TX. The theme speaker was the Rev. David Bumbaugh who is the Professor at Ministry for Meadville Lombard Seminary which is the largest UU seminary. The putative topic of the conference was "What Does the World Need From Liberal Religion." Which honestly taken, was probably far too large a topic to be taken on by a keynote talk. It also is a prime illustration of a tendancy I've observed for UU's to act as if their religion is the primary, if not the only truly "liberal" religion. (Sorry we're but one room in the rather rabling mansion of the theological left.)
But anyway, Rev. Bumbaugh's message was quite interesting, and one part in particular - where he indicated that it would be for the world to understand what UUism is unless UU's can explain what UUs believe made a lot of sense. While one might think (and obviously many do) that being non-creedal means that practically by deffinition you *can't* say what what most, if not nearly all UU's believe. The reality is that most of us do hold some specific core ideas about religion and our approach to life.
Here's what he had to say about it:

Let me suggest to you that what the world needs from Liberal Religion, or at least from our version of Liberal Religion is clarity about who we are and what matters to us; clarity about what vision has called us into being, and what promise we serve. Nor is this such an impossible challenge. While we proudly proclaim the great diversity among us, every study I have seen of Unitarian Universalists suggests that our diversity rests in a powerfully homogeneous core of shared beliefs and attitudes. Indeed, the studies suggest that at the core we are far less diverse than many other religious groups. Let me suggest to you some of the content of that core:

We believe that the universe in which we live and move and have our being is the expression of an inexorable process that began in eons past, ages beyond our comprehension and has evolved from singularity to multiplicity, from simplicity to complexity, from disorder to order.

We believe that the earth and all who live upon the earth are products of the same process that swirled the galaxies into being, that ignited the stars and orbited the planets through the night sky, that we are expressions of that universal process which has created and formed us out of recycled star dust.

We believe that all living things are members of a single community, all expressions of a planetary process that produced life and sustains it in intricate ways beyond our knowing. We hold the life process itself to be sacred.

We believe that the health of the human venture is inextricably dependent upon the integrity of the rest of the community of living things and upon the integrity of those processes by which life is bodied forth and sustained. Therefore we affirm that we are called to serve the planetary process upon which life depends.

We believe that in this interconnected existence the well-being of one cannot be separated from the well-being of the whole, that ultimately we all spring from the same source and all journey to the same ultimate destiny.

We believe that the universe outside of us and the universe within us is one universe. Because that is so, our efforts, our dreams, our hopes, our ambitions are the dreams, hopes and ambitions of the universe itself. In us, and perhaps elsewhere, the Universe is reaching toward self-awareness, toward self consciousness. We believe that our efforts to understand the world and our place within it are an expression of the universe’s deep drive toward meaning. In us, and perhaps elsewhere, the Universe dreams dreams and reaches toward unknown possibilities. We hold as
sacred the unquenchable drive to know and to understand.

We believe that the moral impulse that weaves its way through our lives, luring us to practices of justice and mercy and compassion, is threaded through the universe itself and it is this universal longing that finds outlet in our best moments.

We believe that our location within the community of living things places upon us inescapable responsibilities. Life is more than our understanding of it, but the level of our comprehension demands that we act out of conscious concern for the broadest vision of community of we can command and that we seek not our welfare alone, but the welfare of the whole. We are commanded to serve life and serve it to the seven times seventieth generation.

We believe that those least like us, those located on the margins have important contributions to make the rest of the community of life and that in some curious way, we are all located on the margins.

We believe that all that functions to divide us from each other and from the community of living things is to be resisted in the name of that larger vision of a world everywhere alive, everywhere seeking to incarnate a deep, implicate process that called us into being, that sustains us in being, that transforms us as we cannot transform ourselves, that receives us back to itself when life has used us up. Not knowing the end of that process, nonetheless we trust it, we rest in it, and we serve it.

- end quote -

I think he's got something here. While Rev. Bumbaugh could very well be considered, given his history, a standard bearer for the  conservative edge of modern UUism (relatively speaking, of course) I put this Statement of Faith before my very Pagan UU congregation and somewhat to my surprise they loved it. And, it can past muster at a SWUUC conference *and* at my church - this thing might just have enough legs to get all the way to the delegates at a future General Assembly. My suspicion is that if there is to be any controversy surrounding it, will not be over its content - but whether it should even exist.  

But, it seems to me that this is something we're ready for.  How about you?

Current Location: Hurst, TX
Current Mood: impressed impressed

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About five months ago my church was going through some really rocky times.  I though I should give an update.

A quick synopis for those of you keep score at home - 
Last summer we adopted the idea of an annual congregational patron from our sister congregation in KS, Gaia Community. We held our first Patron Auction, which was regarded as a rousing success (a bit over 5% of our annual budget) and inaugurated Kali as our Patron for the church year starting September 1st.  

She got to work right away. Within a week, a long time member passed away. Generally we didn't feel too bad about that, as Harold had been 90, had had a stroke several months before and loathed the dependency (and nursing home) that it forced him to endure. This gave me the opportunity to conduct my first memorial service, and since he'd been our resident Atheist Curmudgeon, I got to use the line:
"We will honor his memory enough not to commend (what he would have regarded as) his non-existent soul into the hands of somebody else's Imaginary Friend."  Good times - allbeit bitter-sweet.

Then, through the fall several of our unemployed members were offered great jobs - that took them far away from PVUUC. Aine went to college in Little Rock. Jessica found a choice job in Florida, our immediate Past President relocated to Austin, and David - who had been the prime proponent for Kali at our auction got his dream job in the US Marshal Islands.
When we took our census in January - we were down to 10 members. Eeks!  Some of us began to wonder if it was time to make plans for a "graceful winding down" of the congregation and using funds from the sale of our building to help other local UU congregations - and fund an Earth-centered religious endowment.
But Kali had other plans...

Over the early months of 2008 we started to pick a new member or so every month. And unlike the new folks we usually get - who tend to be a bit of "religious refuges" who are just grateful for a place that will not merely tolerate, but accept their religious viewpoints - these new folks had a higher degree of expectations as far as service presentation and bulding presentation - AND - were willing to support that higher quality wtih both efforts and money.  Because the state of our building was getting increasingly desperate - most of these new people volunteered for our Facilities Cmte.

Then over the period of a week in mid-April - they painted the walls and ceilings of five rooms, rented an industrial dumpster and threw away close to a ton of material that had accumulated on the church grounds over the past couple of years - that had originally be slated for recycling, but due to vehicle difficulties for the members tasked with recycling, had been left to rot on our property.Also a fair amount of broken furniture was thrown out - as it was no longer able to serve its intended purpose in our building and wasn't in condition to be resold.

This cleansing of the building of old unusable material was definitely a Kali kinda thing - and it's had some strongly positive outcomes. Our building feels like a new place, cheerful, clean and welcoming. Folks have been responding to this. In the last few weeks since Beltane we've had six people join the congregation. There's a vitality and energy about this place that hasn't been felt since we first moved to the building in 2000.

However, it's also brought challenges. One member of the Facilities Cmte, a former chair, was out of town when the work on the building took place - and was not forewarned of the full scale of the work done. When she returned and saw what had happened,  she was livid and aghast. What others saw as clean and cheerful, to her was stripped and sterile. The "junk broken furniture" that had been thrown away, to her were important congregational heirlooms donated by former, and in some cases deceased, members to whom she felt personally responsible towards. Additionally, our use of a dumpster for all this represented an abandonment of our commitment to be a "Green Church"  We've worked with her to establish a formal policy on the disposal of non-perishable items. But she is still weighing whether ot not to withdraw her membership from the church - which is particularly disturbing given that she & her daughter are the longest serving members of our congregation by about fifteen years.

Still despite this drama, we've managed to double our membership since Imbolc, and have a forward focus towards future activities that I would have though impossible six months ago.

Now these same folks who did so much to reinvigorate our building and grounds are taking the Excellence in RItual class - so it's likely that a similar sea-chance may take place in our worship services over the Summer. As must be noted, Kali is with us as our Patron thru Aug. 31st. 

It's an exciting, though sometimes nerve-racking time to be at Pleasant Valley.

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Current Location: Hurst, TX
Current Mood: excited excited

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