Reaching Out, Reaching In

This article may be found in full in the Summer issue of The Call

Unanimity can be a good thing especially when it is the result of individuals truly listening to each other and being willing to give up a desired personal outcome on behalf of a recognition as to what the community needs in order to more forward together. However, as Scott Peck the author of A Different Drum: Community Making and Peace notes, while compromise can be a sign of health, fear and avoidance of coflict can lead to “the danger of pseudo-community.” Pseudo-community, where individual differences are minimized, unacknowledged, or ignored, tends to stultify growth and ultimately undermines its mission to be an agent of spiritual and societal transformation.

At Annual Meeting, we discussed what signs (if any) to put out in front of the church as a public expression of some of our core values and stance on certain social issues.

Much of the time was spent discussing whether or not/where
to put up a Black Lives Matter sign and what consequences might ensue from that decision. Expressed thoughts ranged from seeing this as a necessary early step in our journey to find ways to work against racism (both within and without), to a hesitation to do something that might antagonize some others and not actually pro-mote dialogue which might lead to deeper understanding about the reality of racism and ways to overcome it. Eventually the person who suggested a motion to put out the signs decided to withdraw the motion in order to create more time and space to understand the issues (and feelings) involved and the organizations we would be supporting.

I agree with Peck that the path to true community and spiritual growth entails not the silencing of the individual’s voice, but the willingness to listen to all voices; not the false hope of continuing unanimity but a willingness to stay open and present in conflict “committed to struggle together rather than against each other.”

~ Patience Stoddard

August 13: Active Hope in a World Turned Upside Down

10 AM with Coleen O’Connell

Coleen comes to us from Hartland, VT where she resides in the Cobb Hill Cohousing Community.  She has been a long time UU member, having been a founding member of the UU Church of Belfast Maine.  She is a facilitator of The Work That Reconnects –  despair and empowerment work from Joanna Macy.  She is on the Faculty at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and teaches teachers in a program called Ecological Teaching and Learning.  She is a lifelong environmental and social justice activist.

Simultaneous children’s religious ed

August 6: How Religious Beliefs are Compatible with Scientific Thought

10 AM with Nick Warren, UUCUV Member

Nick will reflect on how religious beliefs and scientific thought can coexist in society and on a personal level. The history of science and religion hasn’t always been peaceful, but not because they are incompatible. Both science and religion are methods to search for truth, but each method addresses different questions. Nick will share his own story of how logical thought has been a valuable tool in his spiritual journey.

Simultaneous children’s religious education

July 23: Living in a Muslim World as a Peace Corps Volunteer

10 AM with Claire Cravero

Claire was raised in Hanover NH. She graduated from Hanover High in 2007. In 2014, she traveled to Senegal as a U.S. Peace Corps Health Extension Volunteer and served for over two years in a rural conservative region where most families are devoutly Muslim and much of life revolves around calls to prayer from the village mosque. Claire will share the beauty, graciousness, understanding, and fellowship she found in living there with her conservative Muslim host family.

Simultaneous children’s religious education

July 16: Shared Space

10 AM with Andre Mol, Intern Minister, First UU Society of Burlington, VT

The world around us is swirling with opinions and judgments. Especially in today’s political climate, we are often compelled to choose a side and defend it. But what would our world be like if we set aside our judgments, our ideas of right and wrong, and we spoke from a shared space of emotions and needs? This is not our typical way of speaking with each other. If we are bold enough to venture into this space, we might find that it commits us to a deeper level of connection, helping us to find sacred ground from which we can move forward.

Simultaneous children’s religious education