What does it mean to be a people of welcome?

I am looking forward to welcoming everyone to our congregation of children, youth, and adults as the summer season wanes. This church year holds fresh opportunities to leap into a comprehensive ministry for all ages. I am also anticipating the spirited energy of a new partnership with our next settled minister. Rev. Liz Maclay and I have been meeting in preparation for our shared ministry. This year, we will coordinate worship and faith development themes to provide anchors and sails for creating connections, empowering passions, discovering spiritual pathways, and acting for justice to transform the world.

We live in a time that calls for both resistance and love. Adults, youth, and children can find spiritual practices and life resources in our faith community that balance deep reflection and care for one another with learning effective ways to co-create a world that actively dismantles intersectional oppressions. You will find connections and meaningful relationships here. There will be experiential, innovative programming to inspire Unitarian Universalist spiritual development and an active family ministry that is relevant and accessible.

This summer, in order to be ready to enthusiastically greet the coming season, I connected with new and continuing volunteer teachers, worked on the new congregational Resource Book, reviewed fresh curricula, sorted and organized files and classrooms, and prepared a variety of communications and forms. It was also a time of listening and processing about my own role in systems and a culture of white supremacy and intersectional oppressions in our local and global communities. I have recommitted myself and my work to dismantling that culture.

There were lectures and workshops galore. In June, I traveled to New Orleans for the UUA General Assembly, where I completed my term as LREDA president and attended professional day, led by Rev. Deanna Vandiver, Director of the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal, who spoke of faith formation in a time of radical awakening. Then, Ware lecturer Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, shared four essential things that we must do to create a more just and equal world:

  • Get proximate to the poor, the excluded, neglected, and abused;
  • Change the narratives that underlie racism and other inequalities;
  • Stay hopeful about creating justice; and
  • Be willing to do uncomfortable things.

I absorbed the lessons of multicultural sociologist educator Robin D’Angelo, unpacking the impact of white fragility and ways our society and institutions are fraught with patterns that impede justice.

In July, during Star Island Lifespan RE Week, I reflected about growing UUs in a changing world. We explored the themes of curiosity, mutuality, justice, accountability, and co-creativity as key to healthy faith formation amid today’s challenges.

There is so much more to do, so much justice to make, balancing resistance and love, together.

September’s themes for worship and learning at First Unitarian blend the concepts of welcome and faith:

  • What do we promise each other and our world?
  • What does it mean to be a People of Welcome?

I must add that in July and August, I also swam in the ocean, cuddled grandchildren, and picked berries . . . and, that summer doesn’t officially end until September 21!

I look forward to being with you.

Cathy Seggel
Director of Religious Education