Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Morning Worship at GA

There's rumor going around the UU blog world, that there will not be a worship service on Sunday morning at GA this year, but that that service will be "combined" with the closing ceremony on Sunday afternoon. I hope it is a rumor, but it's all too likely not. The GA folks have changed the GA schedule to make Sunday the last day, you have to have some kind of ceremonial closing, and to have that and a worship service means there's not much of a day left for meeting. It's easy for a GA planner to think that combining two utterly unlike events into one would solve the problem, but it won't.

In spite of the outrage of (ministerial) bloggers, I have to point out that we UU's are wont to cancel worship for any number of logistical inconveniences. We cancel worship to have a congregational meeting, because December 25 is a Sunday morning, because ministers of past centuries became accustomed to not preaching between mid June and early September and are loath to change their ways with changing times. Now, we'll skip worship because there's just not enough time for the denominational business to be done if we include it. It's all a pity, all reason that we don't attract as many people as we think we should to our life together.

It's not that there is something sacred about Sunday morning; I would venture a guess that there's not a soul among us who believes that God cares when we worship together. But there is something highly symbolic about Sunday morning worship; that's when the whole community gathers in its dispersed places. Sunday morning after Sunday morning, a great wave of chalice-lighting and voices raised in song works its way from east to west. Sunday morning worship is our most widely shared spiritual discipline. To ditch it in favor of a closing ceremony says a lot about the values of the people who are arranging GA. In particular, it says what lots of us have suspected; these are people who are more in tune with denominational work and social justice than they are with the work of the local congregation and the spiritual health of UU's. And that's a pity.

It's also out of tune with UU's who show with their feet in every church in the nation that they prefer worship to meetings! So, hold the service from 7 to 8 in the morning and you'll still have a huge crowd, I promise, and the rest of the day to get the work done. It will be better work for the fact that at least many of the delegates will have been reminded of their deep values and will have rested in the arms of the spirit for a few minutes. And such a service will continue to teach us important lessons about new ways to worship in local churches which closing ceremonies/worship service couldn't possibly do.

6 comments:

Lara said...

Lots of change is in store at GA this year!

As I understand it, there will be a "Hymn Sing" on Sunday morning...

Turtle Mountain said...

"So, hold the service from 7 to 8 in the morning and you'll still have a huge crowd, I promise, and the rest of the day to get the work done."

This seems an extremely reasonable suggestion. Is 7 to 8 already scheduled? Is there any reason why those who feel as you cannot go right ahead and have your own service at that time?

ms. kitty said...

So far this is all rumor. I have yet to see any substantiated evidence or statement from someone in charge. Where did this information come from? Who said? We all seem to be jumping to a conclusion here.

Christine Robinson said...

The rumor comes from a Highly Reputable Source, "Lively Tradition", who was working on arranging a speaker for the UU Christian Fellowship. So I think it's probably true...hopefully not too late to change.

mjae said...

Ummm... for the outside reader, what's GA???

Turtle Mountain said...

The Annual General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association. A big deal - 2 or 3 days. I've never been to one. It sounds as if things can get a bit testy. Humanists like the way it is evolving. Traditionalists don't, more and more. My impression is that they thought the current head, William Sinkford, would make it very religious. Instead, he is increasingly a social activist.

But ... I am not an insider. I have been a UU for only five years, because I am a Buddhist and UU is non-creedal, so it endure me and anybody else. I really like it. Good people.