October in RE

Sep 30, 2021 | News, Religious Education

Creating Flexible RE Programming in Love

October is here and this is the time of year that I would normally be settling into a groove for the new church year.  But this is no normal year as the pandemic continues and I suspect that there will be no settling into any groove for now.  Instead, Rev. Gretchen and I keep saying that we are building the runway as we are landing the plane.  While that’s a creative way to look at the challenging logistics we are being faced with, it is also vital to pause to creatively consider how best to proceed through these times individually and collectively.

Even though my work with Murray Church isn’t intentionally interim, I believe that the interim process can guide us.  For those of you not familiar with it, the interim process includes five developmental tasks, including:

  • to honor our past (by using our successes and failures/mistakes to recognize what matters to us going forward)
  • to name our identity (by exploring and acknowledging who we are and what we want in our daily lives)
  • to foster sustainable leadership (making sure we are supporting diversity to balance leadership in our system that honors each voice)
  • to explore available resources (by assessing what is available, including help we may not know about)
  • to dream our future vision (what are our hopes for the future and which dreams are most important to us).

This is not a linear or end-product journey as we can (and should) keep pausing to consider each of these when we are making any changes or going through times of transition or dealing with a challenging situation.  This process is especially helpful to circle around when trying to address a confusing problem (such as this continuing pandemic).

It is normal to focus on only the part we see, but there is so much more to any situation than we realize.  I believe that this process is one that is beneficial to keep doing in small, medium, and big ways in our personal and communal lives.

When I had my job interview for my last interim DLRE position, I was asked what I thought the difference was between interim and settled work.  I answered that I don’t think there should be because the interim process is so beneficial for every church to regularly engage in. I believe this even more as we all cope with these pandemic times.

In addition to considering these five developmental tasks in all of the decisions we make, I invite us to strive for inclusivity (honoring “both/ands” above “either/ors”) and to be radically welcoming.  May we all remember that we don’t know what supports and programs every one of our neighbors (and fellow Murray community families) want and need right now.

That is why I promote offering as diverse programming as we can imagine.  While the Reopening Task Force works hard to safely guide us for meeting again in the building, I invite us to also consider how to minister to each and every member of our community.  For every program that we offer here at Murray Church in the building, can we offer an alternative that engages folks at home?

One pleasant surprise of pivoting to online/Zoom programming for the past year and a half was realizing the benefits for families who have moved away or who struggle to get to church.  Can we continue to radically include their needs in our programming as we hopefully return to programming?  I hope so!

I have often said that during times of stress, what we Unitarian Universalists do best is come together in community.  Being together with love, whether physically or electronically or in spirit gathered, is the key ingredient to surviving these challenging times.

  • When we look to our past, we hopefully remember love.
  • When we consider what is a key part of our identity, we hopefully feel love.
  • When we consider our past, present, and future leadership remaining innovative, leading us through the challenges the different decades have thrown at us, we feel the love in their dedication.
  • When we search for available resources, we hopefully feel the love of our connections to sources interconnecting with our community.
  • When we look to our future, we hopefully trust that an abundance of love will carry us forward in all that we do.

Thank you for being a part of this community here at Murray Church!  Thank you for radically welcoming and supporting those that have different needs than we have!  Thank you for bringing your loving heart to all that we do here!

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