Last month I had the opportunity to attend the 2021 Universalist Convocation in Sandy Springs, Georgia. It was an upbeat event—mainly a reunion of clergy and historians who research and appreciate our rich Universalist history, before the 1961 merger.
The day was packed with speakers, live and remote. A couple of them focused on the first Convocation, in 1990. Notes from that initial meeting and the memories of those who attended, remark on the spirit and enthusiasm generated by worshiping together.
Other speakers focused on the relevance of Universalism today. Rev. Peter Morales’ theme was “Blow on the Coal of the Heart: The Universalist Sensibility in an Unbelieving World.” “Community develops from doing together,” he said. A congregation needs to focus on relationships, community with each other. “This is holy.”
I had the opportunity to ask him, “What makes a healthy congregation; Strident social justice activism, protests and publicity, or quieter work, like working in food pantries and building Green Sanctuary congregations?”
He reminded us that he had been in Colorado at the time of the Columbine shooting. “Some situations demand an immediate, robust response,” he said. But things change slowly. “Over the long term the search for justice leads to bitterness. Anger becomes consuming.” Anger will not sustain a loving, spiritual community.
Recently some UU congregations have been faced with disagreements about how active they should be on social justice issues. I saw a post the other day that said, “Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion, not a religion for liberals.” Let’s make sustaining sacred community our goal.
By the way, the 2022 Universalist Convocation will be in Bellville, Ohio. Perhaps you’ll want to be there.