Greetings from the Unitarian Universalist Association Regional Assembly in Naperville, Illinois. Rev. Leslie, Russ and RaeJane Araujo and I were lucky enough to attend the First MidAmerican Regional Assembly this past weekend. Recently, the Heartland district, in which Heritage was a part, merged with two other Midwest districts to form the new MidAmerican Region. This new region is comprised of 12 Midwest states plus a small section of Ohio. Last year the newly formed region held four identical regional meetings in various locations throughout the area. This year, one regional meeting was scheduled with 400 UUs coming together in Naperville. It was inspirational and energizing. Plus we got to hug and say hello to the elusive Rev. Bill Gupton. (We did stick to the sabbatical guidelines and did not share more than a few remarks about the home base.)
On Friday night and Saturday morning, two great keynote speakers, the Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, President of the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkely, California, and the Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar, the Senior Minister at All Souls UU Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, addressed the gathering. Rather than each presenting their own addresses, they spoke collaborative at both sessions. In their talk, two salient points arose. One, the world needs our UU message now more than ever. As the Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt stated, “Lives of African Americans in this country are in critical condition. They live daily with racism, poverty, incarceration, joblessness. This is our opportunity as UUs to bring our religious perspective and our voice to this county.” Secondly, the other topic addressed was how to make our faith more vibrant and engaging given the changes that are occurring in church membership. The speakers felt that our churches need to be multiracial, multicultural, multi-religious, multi-generational , multi-theological. We need to change the culture of the faith-based communities to fit the demographic shift that is coming. We need to look at our UU culture and make changes to accommodate those shifts. The Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar impressed upon us that honoring a variety of religious traditions will open our doors to more people while sharing with them our seven principles.
At our Congregational Meeting each year, our minister typically has a report on the current church year. As board president, I will be making that report in Rev. Bill’s absence at the May 31st meeting. During that report, I will elaborate on my experiences at the regional meeting.
In my last Heirloom article, I praised Chris Burroughs and Stephanie Wilson for cleaning and sanitizing the nursery and pre-school room. I misspoke. Lilly Hutchins, our child care provider, cleans the nursery on a regular basis. My apologies to Lilly for missing the important work she does for our youngest members.
Board of Trustees President