by Senior Minister Rev. David A. Miller.
This past week, Unitarian Universalists from all over the world came to a Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assembly (GA) that seemed different. The anticipation of this GA, my 10th, was different from any I have ever experienced. What would it be like with three recently named co-presidents who were appointed to the office after the resignation of the elected president? What level of sadness would fill us based on the very recent death of Jim Key, the association’s beloved moderator – our chief lay leader and the one who presides over the governance of GA? How would the recent controversy over systems of white supremacy exhibit itself in the politics of the association? These were all unanswered questions as more than 25 of us from Fairfax made the journey to New Orleans.
The week began for me with worship at the UU Ministers Association meeting on Monday. The worship was constructed to bring a wide variety of voices to the forefront to specifically name the events that had caused such challenge in our association and for personal perspectives to be shared. The perspectives shared weren’t political. They were human. They were expressions of pain and loss. They were honest, vulnerable, risky, intimate, loving and courageous. They set the tone for a week of truth-telling in the spirit of love and faith with an understanding of our imperfections, our need for forgiveness and the incredible opportunities for transformation that we now face.
The week continued, led by lay leaders, staff, musicians, religious educators and clergy, coming together in deep caring for each other and this faith. The stories and discussions were difficult and beautiful. The space was sacred and holy. The music seemed to carry more meaning. The time together with friends seemed more needed and a little sweeter. And, on a personal note, after working for over a year on the campaign of my friend Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray to be the new president of the UUA, the emotions that I experienced with her victory and vision for our future were beyond what I had expected.
Today I am meeting with UUCF’s Assistant Minister Search Committee to strive toward the selection of our new assistant minister. Then, I plan to take 3 weeks vacation. When I come back, I will engage with those who went to GA to share thoughts and solicit their perspectives on how the events at this gathering of our association of congregations might be infused into the life of our congregation.
There was so much to process, but this I do know: The time has come for us all to engage in deeper conversation, not debate about our hopes and our fears. The time has come for us to spend more time experiencing joy together. The time has come for us to examine systems that no longer work and understand how we can continue to make a difference. The time has come to even more intentionally bring voices from the margins into the center. The time has come to reignite hope and focus on supporting ourselves, each other and our community.
It was a unique, amazing and transformative week. It was a defining moment in the long and extraordinary history of Unitarian Universalism. Once again, it reinforced that we need each other and once again, it demonstrated that change is hard but possible, love is challenging but resilient and we are capable of moving through the difficult times and working together in building a new way.