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Unitarian Universalist Meeting House of Pittsfield, Maine

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What Do Unitarian Universalists Believe?

Unitarian Universalism affirms and promotes seven Principles, grounded in the humanistic teachings of the world's religions. Our spirituality is unbounded, drawing from scripture and science, nature and philosophy, personal experience and ancient tradition as described in our six sources

The Seven Principles are:

  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

 

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For Lack of a Settled Minister… Reflections on Where We Are Now

December 6, 2017

Recently, a post from the Wildwood Path popped up in my Facebook feed. It read, "It is difficult to stand forth in one's growing, if one is not permitted to live through the stages of one's unripeness, clumsiness, unreadiness, as well as one's grace and aptitude. Love provides a continuous environment for the revelation of one's self, so that one can yield to life without fear and embarrassment.” 

 

The Wildwood Path is a women's and/or trans learning journey in wilderness skills, nature connection, and earth-based ceremony in Unity, Maine, conceived by Trevanna Grenfell who co-facilitated October’s “Liberating Language” workshop. 

 

The sentiment comes from M.C. Richards’s book Centering In Pottery, Poetry and the Person and continues… “This is why love is in the strictest sense necessary. It must be present in order for life to happen freely. It is the other face of freedom. Freedom is the act of initiative by which a unique human will create a new substance. Love is the experience of union.”

 

The sentiment is both humbling and stimulating. Humbling because we — both we, our community, and we, individuals together — are unripe, clumsy, and unready. And stimulating because we are also full of grace, aptitude, and love — the elements necessary for union. We continually experience the “both/and” as we navigate the possibilities for our community and the space that we inhabit, as we work together in council, communicate member to member, friend to friend, or coordinate, cook, and serve a local supper.

 

An ongoing tension exists about our “lack” of a settled minister. The sentiment is just that: that we lack. On the one hand, the thinking goes, a settled minister would be that cohesive force and the centering person to bring the meeting house community into its full potential. On the other hand, precisely because we do not have a minister, we must reach out to the community ourselves, continue to do the work, and to bring in other groups, other organizations and other like-minded individuals whose missions overlap with ours — the place where our venn diagrams overlap, so to speak. That, to me, is creative, expansive work that has only just begun, that I hope will continue and begin to flourish.

 

There is no single thing, person, or act that will magically transform rural churches in the 21st century. But I will argue that there is a singular element that will always be necessary: people working together.

 

I’ve said it before and I still feel the same way: we are not lacking. Rather, we have a tremendous opportunity to expand the possibilities of what we do at the meeting house, including what happens at Sunday services. Sundays can be traditional services with hymns, readings, and a sermon as performed by an ordained minister who’s studied divinity. But it can also be an open forum where community leaders give voice to their spiritual autobiographies, personal journeys, and contemporary challenges and in so doing catalyze understanding and unity in a socio-political context that would have us divided and fearful and alone. Sunday also offers us the chance to go out into the community and make a difference — feeding the homebound, picking up garbage, spreading pollinator-friendly wildflower seeds — and doing so together.

 

We have, too, the opportunity to expand the meaning and the use of that space we inhabit. How does “meeting house” diminish the limitations imposed by “church” to include new possibilities for what can happen, and with whom, and for what purpose?

 

We are but links in a long, historic chain of people that made this place possible. How can we sow here and now a vibrant future for those who we do not yet even know?

 

We have so much. How will we leverage our resources to make the greatest impact? The best change? The most inclusive community?

 

Holly Zadra

Council Moderator

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