by Russ Araujo
Each year the Universalist Convocation meets to renew friendships and promote the Universalist message in our denomination and in the world at large. This year’s meeting was on May 19 – 22 in Marietta, Ohio. Rae Jane and I attended, representing our own congregation and its Universalist roots.
The convocation took place at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta, which was formed by the merging of the local Universalist and local Unitarian churches in 1869, nearly 100 years before the Universalist and Unitarian denominations consolidated at the national level (in 1961). (By the way, the Marietta church’s minister is Rev. Kat Hawbaker, who used to be the minister of Hopedale UU church in Oxford Ohio.) The Marietta church building has the look and feel of churches built 150 years ago. For parts of the program we sat in pew “boxes.” The convocation included worship services, talks, a local historical tour, and a workshop. The Marietta church also fed us several scrumptious meals which were based upon their decade-long study of ethical eating.
I am pleased to report that, when we talked during social times and mentioned that we were from Heritage Church in Cincinnati, people always remembered that Heritage had hosted the convocation two years ago and commented on what a great job our church did with that gathering.
The convocation wrapped up with the worship service of the Marietta church on Sunday morning. The Rev. Justin Lapoint, a former minister at Marietta, gave the sermon. The day before, he had led a workshop in which he asked participants to write down their answers to several questions. One question was, “Putting aside the historical definition of Universalism, what is your definition of Universalism today?” In the Sunday service Rev. Lapoint gave his own answer to that question, saying that Universalism meant “Everyone included—no one left out or behind.” Thinking of the many conflicts and inequalities in our world today, this seems like an excellent definition – and an ideal to strive for.