Thursday, June 25, 2009

GA: Voting for's why.

After I get through the "lost credentials" routine. This is the first time in 30 years I've left my credentials at home...sheesh...

Let me start by saying that I think the world of Laurel Hallman and will not despair if she is elected president. But I'm casting my vote for Peter Morales. Here's why.

First of all, It is obvious to anyone who sees both candidates that Peter has more energy and enthusiasm for this very difficult job. Both candidates have great qualifications. But it is a REALLY hard job, and doing it well takes passion. Peter's got the passion.

Secondly, as the minister in a city which is 1/3 Hispanic and a church which has several dozen Hispanic members, living in a time when the demographic shift of our nation is towards a much, much larger percentage of Hispanic citizens, I value Peter's bi-lingual heritage and skills.

Thirdly, I value Peter's business experience. We who have been in church work all of our lives get lots of experiences, but we often miss the experiences that a career in business presents. I think our denominational president needs to be a minister for lots of reasons, but I value Peter's business experience and skills he brings from earlier in his life, just as I thought that this was an important part of Bill Sinkford's presidency.

Most of all, I love the way Peter talks about our future, about breaking up the same old same old ways we have doing things and not succeeding all my life. Our movement has everything going for it to meet the spiritual needs of our time and the near future, but our internal culture puts glass doors between us and the people we want to serve. I think it is more likely that under Peter's leadership, we can open those doors.

GA 2009 Minister's Meetings

GA is preceded by two days of minister's meetings. I went to the business-oriented day. It's been a while since the continuing education day was useful to me, so I just come late. It is so good to see one's colleagues! That pleasure was deflated by a business meeting run with such poor process that it felt like an abuse of power...was an abuse of power at least in terms of parlimentary rule....and all for a cause I would have probably supported. I'm feeling very alienated and that's a hard place to be.

The Berry St. Essay was very interesting this year, and a nice blend of a scholarly lecture and a passionate response. The lecturer held up the embarrassing reality that while our denomination had been pursuing anti-racism and multi-culturalism with a passion for a decade, no records have been kept on our progress because nobody wants to ask for statistics about the number of persons of color in congregations. The few statistics we do have come from an outside source (National Pew Research data), or are somewhat suspect. We are amateurs in the statistics business! The speaker went on to point out that a theology underpinning our multiculatural efforts is very much a part of deepest history...a good reminder. The respondant gave a heart-felt personal testamony. An African American, Rosemary finds this the only faith for her but regrets that her children are so lonely as the only children of color wherever they go in UU land, beginning with their own Sunday School.

I was sad to hear this, not only because of the human drama of being a mom wondering if one's work and chosen life is the right one for her children, but because our denomination has put a lot of resources into nurturing ministers of color on the assumption that ministers of color would attract congregants of color. Apparently, that has not happened, even for this splendid, talented minister who lives in a very multi-cultural area. Gives one pause.

(There are plenty of UU Youth of color at GA, by the way, and it seems clear to this casual observer that they enjoy the experience of having a critical mass of peers. But most UU kids don't come to GA.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Imagineering Faith Expanded

Last week I based my sermon on the aspect of last year's Berry St. Essay which I found most interesting; the dynamics of shame and scorn in our religious communities. I share it with my blogging and Facebook friends here, where it is available in audio, video, and text.