I had occasion to write a sermon recently for the installation of a part time minister at one of our small congregations. Writing the sermon gave me a chance to look back and appreciate how much our faith has inﬂuenced my life, how much has changed, and how important our task as Unitarian Universalist (UU) leaders remains.
Our faith has grown since I discovered it in the 1960s. We are more genuinely open to our spiritual differences now and we’ve learned some better ways of making a strength of our diverse understandings of reality. I see us continuing to extend welcome to the curious, the lonely, and the confused. When we are at our best we do that. We provide a nest for people learning to ﬂy.
There are, all around us in every city and town, lots of people like I was then, men and women, young and old, who are religiously liberal and going through life without the support of a community willing to encourage their ﬂights of imagination about how life might be richer, fuller, more authentic. We need to let them know we exist. We need to personally invite them to visit.
When they visit, we need to notice them. We need to have Covenant Groups for them so they can build personal connections in an atmosphere of mutual trust. Covenant groups, also known as Small Group Ministry, are groups of 7 to 10 people who meet regularly to get to know each other and to explore signiﬁcant questions involving spirituality and the business of living. More and more of our congregations have started such groups. If your congregation does not yet have such groups I encourage you to explore them as a way to create community and to provide a place of instant welcome for newcomers.”
When new people come to our doors we have to say to them in various ways, “We anticipated your coming and we are glad to see you. Rest here. Try your wings here. Tell us a bit about your story and we’ll tell you a bit about ours. Together we may ﬁnd ways to serve. Together we may make this a better world.”
Nothing more is required. Nothing less will do.
Thank you, all of you who have given your time, energy, money, and attention to the creation of and the continuance of our congregations, our nests of sustaining community. Ten at a time, in our small groups, we can become enough of a multitude to tip the world toward justice and spiritual depth.
Audio Essay Series: Volume 1, Track 14 (MP3, 2:53 minutes)
Author: The Reverend Bob Hill
Date of Release: June 23, 2005
This Audio Essay series was created by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, for the purpose of supporting its valued lay leaders. Copying and sharing these essay texts, downloadable audio ﬁles, and the companion Lay Leader Drive Time Essays compact disc is welcomed and encouraged.
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Last updated on Wednesday, May 4, 2011.
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