As I write this, I am (virtually) attending the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association. There is much conversation, this year, about how this is a “transformative” summer, a “liminal” time – a period that is and will continue to be a bridge between the fragmented, virtual, COVID times we have experienced over the past 15 months, and the brave new world of “multi-platform” and “multi-channel” church and ministry that lies ahead.
What do those last few words mean? They mean that, in the upcoming 2021-22 “church year” (itself probably an anachronistic term) – and from now on – religious communities, including ours, will exist in a variety of forms and on a variety of platforms. Yes, there will be in-person, in-the-building events, gatherings, meetings, and worship. But they will likely be less heavily attended, less well “subscribed” (a newer word), and less “central” (another newer word) to the life of the church. They will instead be one aspect of the life of the church.
From here on out, some meetings (and all worships) will be joined by folks who are attending remotely – via various kinds of screens and internet connections. Some other meetings (and probably occasional and alternative worships) will be exclusively online. Many offerings will be recorded, to be “consumed” at a time more convenient to the “consumer.” There will be many other, smaller, short-term educational and social opportunities. But they won’t look like they used to. Nothing will.
Surely this reality can evoke grief for what has been lost. I encourage you to be with that grief. Honor it. Don’t try to move past it too quickly. Know that I share some of it with you. But I want you to know as well that I, for one, am also very excited and energized by some of the possibilities of what might lie ahead. Life in our world and our society is changing; so too is life in our congregation. As we always do at Heritage, we will honor our past – our heritage – while living lovingly and compassionately together in the present – all the while also looking forward with optimism to the future.
Looking with gratitude to our past, let me once again thank our recently retired Assistant Minister for Religious Education, Rev. Leslie Woodward. Leslie’s love for our families and children was something to behold! And let me thank as well our recent Interim Religious Educator, Karen Hager, who – all the way from Virginia – guided our program for children, youth, and adults with such skill and expertise. Virtually. Who would have known such a thing was possible?
All of which has led us to this transformative summer. As we now look to our future together, I am delighted to welcome Laci Adams to our staff, as our new (and first!) Lifespan Director of Faith Development (see article introducing her elsewhere in this newsletter). I am confident that Laci is just the right person to help gently guide us into new ways of being together in the multi-platform, multi-channel, multi-cultural world that awaits.
And here’s some more good news: Starting this month, some of us will be able to be back in our building, having meetings and discussions together – while welcoming others into our midst virtually. As we navigate how we might be with one another in these changing times – in a still evolving context where some will be masked, and some will not – where some will be vaccinated, and some will not – where some will prefer in-person community, and some will prefer virtual community – let us keep our hearts connected to the Love that is the spirit of this church. Let us be understanding and compassionate. Let us avoid judgment (what could be more in tune with our Universalist theology than striving, always, to be non-judgmental?). Let us be both giving and forgiving. Let us give, and receive, grace.
And let us, always, center Love in everything we do.
Enjoy your summer. Stay safe! See you in August.