Monday, March 12, 2012

What Does It Mean to Be Who We Are? (3)

In my last post I promised to offer another lens through which to look at the programs and projects of Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church - Unitarian Universalist to help us see how well who we say we are and who we act like we are are in agreement with each other.  This is an important exercise for a congregation -- as for an individual -- to engage in on a regular basis:  am I living by the values I espouse?  Could someone tell what matters to me by looking at the way I live my life?
There is another reason (at least one other!) to engage in this quest to "know thyself" and live an "examined" life.  We are bombarded on a daily basis with invitations to do this thing and to do that thing -- far more things than anyone could ever do.  As Edward Everett Hale famously said, "I am only one . . . I cannot do everything."  His point, of course, is that while we may not be able to do everything there is always at least something that we can do.  An exercise such as this can help us decide among the myriad things that are calling for our attention which thing(s) we can do.  Which things we ought to do.  Which things we are being called to do.
So in my last post I suggested that we here at TJMC look to our congregation's Mission Statement and see how what we're actually doing aligns with the values we espouse in this core document.  That's something I think we should always do when considering beginning a new project or when assessing something we've been doing for a while -- ask ourselves, in what way(s) does this enhance our ability to act on our mission in the world?  In what way(s) does this further that mission?
In this post I want to suggest that another tool we might use is the well-known Principles and Purposes section of the Unitarian Universalist Association's bylaws, especially the so-called "Seven Principles."

There are the seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations covenant to affirm and promote:

  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

A.      1st & 2nd Principle Work
a.       Racial reconciliation work
                                                               i.      Partnership with Monticello
                                                             ii.      Partnership with UCARE/UVA
                                                            iii.      Partnership with Dialog on Race
                                                           iv.      Partnership with Coming To The Table
                                                             v.      Partnerships with area African American churches
b.      Immigration
                                                               i.      Immigration law reform
                                                             ii.      Immigration justice
                                                            iii.      Partnership with Creciendo Juntos
c.       Refugee Community
d.      GLBTI
                                                               i.      Marriage equality
                                                             ii.      Pride
e.      PACEM
f.        Emotional Wellness Ministry
g.       Food Pantry
h.      Soup Kitchen
B.      3rd & 4th Principle Work
a.       Worship experimentation/deepening
                                                               i.      Sunday worship
                                                             ii.      UU Christian Fellowship Worship
                                                            iii.      Clear Spring Buddhist Sangha
                                                           iv.      Labyrinth Ministry
                                                             v.      Nature Spirit
b.      Lifespan Faith Development
                                                               i.      RE for children and youth
                                                             ii.      RE for adults (AFD)
c.       Covenant groups
d.      UUse Guys and UUpity Women
e.      Pastoral visitors
f.        Membership
g.       Leadership Development
h.      UVA Campus Ministry
C.      5th and 6th Principle Work
a.       IMPACT
b.      PA-UN
D.      7th Principle Work
a.       Green Sanctuary
b.      Mountaintop Removal
c.       Adopt-a-Highway

I know that I've left out some of the things that we do here, and that I've included some things that have not yet quite matured into their fullness (how's that for euphamism?), but this seems to be enough to give an idea of how the exercise is done.  Some may also disagree with some of the placements I propose here, thinking perhaps that something I've said supports the 1st and 2nd principle more properly could be said to support the 5th and 6th.  Perfect agreement is not the goal.  The exercise itself of checking our behavior against our principles is in and of itself worthwhile.
I'd love to hear what you think.
In Gassho,
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1 comment:

Arthur Rashap said...

Well, Erik - your posting is both a challenge and a bit of a breathless summary of most of what are vehicles for participating in one or more of the many groups and paths that members of TJMCUU have developed on populate. For me, and perhaps for many others, it is this and these opportunites and ability to be involved in a meaningful way as a contributing member of a group that has attraction and appeal. The "lone voice crying out in the wilderness" gets a hearing, and can then join in a larger chorus that may [like the wonderful rendition of Amazing Grace by the chorus as created by Scott this past Sunday] give voice to concerns and paths to address them.
Perhaps there is an answer to "why am I 'here'" in this exploration and the insights and opportunities offered - all in the context of what is offered each Sunday and in the many wonderful AFD offerings.

I look forward to the dialogue you have requested and the doors that keep opening.

Arthur Rashap