Saturday, December 13, 2008

Quick report on the end of the beginning

Prioritizing done, we met for preliminary conversations and a chance to sign up to continue to work on the areas that interest us in the 8 chosen areas. Some of the "near miss" areas were noted and incorporated into the chosen areas. The group shared a few thoughts about the whole process, and then we had another of the very excellent worship services which punctuated our work together.

All the information we generated was turned over to the Panel who continue to meet today. All the participants have been invited to continue this conversation by adding their reflections and I hope some will.

Some final thoughts from the group conversation

Every conversation that happened was important. Every connection made was important, and we won't know all the benefits and outcomes of this meeting for some years. The "winners" were the conversations which seemed to need focus and attention to carry them forward at this time.

What surprised people about the final list

The focus on spiritual grounding was a nice surprise. The depth of discussion and willingness to take spiritual risks was an unexpected and wonderful part of the two days.

The non-focus on anti-racism by the white people at the summit was an unpleasant surprise to those persons who did focus on this area, who were surprised that this was one of the subjects that made the final cut. There was more doubt expressed about our denominational readiness to continue to work in this area than in other areas, and this sadness and disappointment cast a shadow on the last discussion.

There is some interest in discussion of our theme speaker's comment that anxiety about excellence tends to arise when there is some other problem that is being avoided, but we were out of time before that was vocalized.

There was disappointment that children and youth issues didn't make it into the final cut of next steps. There was hope that the needs of children and youth (and adult needs for the voices of children and youth) would be folded into each of the projects that are undertaken.

In informal conversations I head the same thing expressed about mentoring, internships, and recruiting for ministry. Since those fit into the areas I'm most interested in myself (depth and maturity in ministry, ministerial culture, and the certification process, I intend to keep that in mind.

As I wandered around looking at the comments in all 8 chosen areas, I thought I saw that most groups had taken the conversation to heart and had noted places where their subject intersected with children and youth affairs, and our multi-cultural work.

There was a final discussion about how to keep this work transparent and available to everyone who wanted to see it but final details on that are being worked out today. Stay posted!

With thanks to the able facilitator, the staff of University Unitarian who kept us comfortable and
printed mountains of paper, the cooks who fed us extraordinarily well and the worship leaders who nourished our spirits, I fly home to sunshine and to Christmas.


rev2bcme said...

Christine - Thanks for keeping us posted on the happenings at this gathering...I am eager to hear more, learn more, and ponder more in all of these areas -- especially the areas of spiritual depth in ministry, and collaboration for collegiality & continuing ed. Looking forward to September 2009! Carmen Emerson

kim said...

I am working on an idea I have about "diversity". My idea is that, having gotten beyond the most obvious outer layers of racism and other prejudices, we are working on the more subtle parts. And, of course,the subtle parts are difficult to pin down because of their subtlety. My impression is that where we are stuck is that the real things that keep people of different back grounds from being comfortable with each other are the unconscious cultural differences in how we speak to each other and our world view. Those unthinking things like how far apart we stand when we talk to each other, how long we pause when we want to communicate that the other person can speak now, Whether we communicate directly or indirectly, whether we negotiate from specific to general or vice versa, how often we touch the other person while speaking. All these things are unconscious, "self-evident", and really annoying when someone does them differently because we interpret difference in custom as intended rudeness, or just strangeness. We get along with people who are more like us, we have communication problems with people who are less like us.
I think this level is where a lot of UU problems with diversity resides now. when I talk to people about this, many of them say things like, "I thought we were all the same." Or they don't say that and just imply it, if they are more indirect. It seems it's a hard concept to "get". That would seem to validate it being a problem.
I think we could work on this level of "diversity" to our advantage. Maybe it would help us achieve some more diversity in our congregations.