Message from the President- April, 2023
“The mission of the UUCC is to nurture and respect each other in our spiritual growth and pursuit of meaning and to create a welcoming and engaging environment through which we work for positive change in the community and the world.”
Connection, community, compassion. This theme for our pledge drive may well be our theme for the year ahead. It gets to the heart of our mission, and what our leaders, staff and volunteers have been working towards as we’ve been emerging from the pandemic.
As Robin said so well a few weeks ago, “We are living in times of uncertainty and unrest, a time of unchecked violence and corruption, a time where loneliness, anxiety, stress, and depression are the most common denominators of emotions. The allure of non-thinking, fundamentalist and closed off spirituality has lost some of its spark and the culture longs for an open minded, liberal oasis that supports a diverse group of people on diverse quests for truth and meaning in ways that can actually be helpful to deeper meanings of life as well as the day-to-day struggles. And that’s exactly why the strength and health of this congregation is absolutely critical to your life, to my life and the lives past our walls out into the world.”
That same Sunday Reverend Stephen spoke about communities of resistance, as described by Thich Naht Hanh and bell hooks. First Thich Nhat Hahn: “To take refuge, first of all, is to take refuge in the island of ourselves and then in the island of a Sangha. These islands are communities of resistance. “Resistance” does not mean to oppose others. It means to protect ourselves, like staying inside the house to protect ourselves from the weather.” bell hooks described them: “When communities of resistance are everywhere the norm in our lives, we will not be without a circle of love or a healing place.”
I believe we are becoming an oasis and a community of resistance, embodied by love and healing. We are not there yet, we are imperfect, but I believe we are working towards this. As evidence I point you to the “This I Value” testimonials from four members of our congregation during the month of March:
- Annette Flavel shared her poem- “That’s OK- You’re welcome here” – celebrating our diverse beliefs and life experiences (on the front page of our website, in case you missed it).
- Jeannette Walton shared many of the activities that draw us together, from time at the Mountain to potlucks to social action, and lovingly highlighted the wonderful gifts and unique contributions of each of our staff members.
- Matt Donahue shared what brought him here and what keeps him here, and UUCC’s part in healing him and nurturing his family.
- And Jonathan White shared that we do hard things to sustain good things.
I value this congregation. I treasure the friendships that have developed and deepened – through Story Circles and book clubs, showing up together for social action, working together on committees, singing together, worshipping together, simply being together, in sorrow, in joy, in dismay and in celebration. I honor the wonderful way the congregation cares for our members and friends- providing care and support (thanks for the cards and good wishes as my own daughter heals) as well as so many opportunities for learning and sharing ideas, talents and fun. I am also grateful for the congregation’s trust in allowing me, a relative newcomer, to lead the congregation on the board and as president.
We have so many wonderful volunteers- and as Jeanette stated, the glue that holds us together and helps us grow is our staff- small in number and huge in talent and dedication. As Robin shared at the beginning of March, we have strong roots and are poised to grow even stronger in our connections, community and compassion. Our proposed budget is a stretch- but a well-considered stretch- that invests in our youth, our music program, and our staff, addressing the requests and aspirations of our committees and our board.
Robin quoted Unitarian Universalist theologian, Tom Owen-Towle, “Generosity involves openheartedness, the cardinal ability to give lavishly of yourself to others, to the world around you, to the divine communal Spirit in which we live, move and have our beings.” He goes on to say this: “generosity undergirds and underwrites all other values. Without generosity, one loves sparingly, if not stingily; without generosity, our acts of justice happen rarely; without generosity, we hoard our precious gifts of time and soul and other resources.”
As we conclude our pledge drive and prepare a balanced budget for the year to come, I hope you will consider what you value in UUCC, and what you want for us to accomplish together in this coming year, with the generosity of your time and soul and other resources. Let us grow together in connections, community and compassion.
With love and respect,
Deb Matherly, President