Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Spirit Play Today–22 kids. Then: Congregational Conversations: Voting to call and settle the Associate Minister

Today (Sunday) during Religious Education (RE), I led a Feast Day program in Spirit Play, with 22 kids from grades 1-5 and two adult leaders helping, plus the RE Assistant.  My goal was to show them maps and globes to let them know where the Philippines is, and where is the island of Negros.   Then I would show them some of my slide show of digital photos and  talk about the people, landscape, and congregations in the UU Church of the Philippines.  We also would have a snack, prepared by Lee and her sons.  Well, this is more or less what happened, but the group quickly became unsettled and to my experience barely manageable.  The trusty Spirit Play refrain to call for order, “Let’s get ready!  I don’t think we are ready to continue.  Can you help us get ready?”, was rarely effective.  Anyway there was a lot of engagement with the maps and the inflatable globe, and the regular one, and some responses and questions to the slides.  But it felt like pandemonium.

Given my preparation for that (perhaps insufficient) I was not at all worried in anticipation of the two Congregational Conversations about calling me to be the Associate Minister.  The task force had meetings after both services, and we had maybe 25 folks at each one.  The task force had organized it very well, so it went smoothly, and with a nice chalice lighting (and extinguishing after the closing words).

The questions, statements and responses were genuine and supportive, and I appreciate much specific feedback on my ministry here and my thoughts about the congregation and the ministry in general.  It’s nice to hear when you have done things that have mattered to folks, and to have them highlighted as specific examples.  I will strive to do that more in my supervisory work as well as in my support of volunteer leaders.

If you have any responses to the conversation that you attended, please add them as a comment here.  As I drove home I thought of one question that deserves a more complete answer.  One person noted that he had read in a local paper that I was “an out gay minister.”  He said he hadn’t known that but wanted me to speak more about it.   I didn’t say much, except that coming out of the closet coincided with my finding Unitarian Universalism as a young adult and getting involved in church life.  I also said it was clear that our officially certified “Welcoming Congregation” had really done its work in learning about the issues and becoming inclusive and affirming.  It was

That is what I said.  Now it occurs to me that I should have said it is important for clergy and laypersons involved in religious communities to be honest, open and visible as openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people (LGBT).   The reason is that historically organized religion has been unwelcoming but actively hostile and oppressive to LGBT people.   Of course, it’s important for all people to be “out” to the extent that they can do so and remain safe from harm.  But it makes an extra difference when we can be seen as participating freely and fully in religious community.  It is a public witness and also a source of healing for many people who have suffered from religiously based oppression, and this includes not only LGBT folks but their parents and families, friends, and religious communities.


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