Of late I have been thinking about the covenant or promise we make (have) with each other when we join UUFP or any other church across denominational lines. There is a mutuality and shared responsibility we have when we join a faith community.
Our UUFP members have shown a dedication to bringing our faith to the world within and outside these walls. What is needed now is a change of our institutional culture about how we think of ourselves in relationship to our mission and vision for the future. I believe we belong to and support our many ministries so that we can grow a community by living our mission and vision with integrity.
As we strive to live our shared values expressed in our mission we are called to honor our commitment and obligations to each other and our staff. When I became your minister two years ago the promise I responded to in answering your call was to serve at first ¼ time and then not quite half time our second year which will end shortly along with the appropriate compensation.
One of the most challenging issues of any part-time ministry is getting to know each of you when I am only on-site twice a month. This has hindered our bonding which I deeply regret but see little fix for this deficit now. I sincerely want to know more of your heart, your joys and sorrows that you carry with you daily. It is a two-way street to earn trust and to move into being in a deeper communion with each other. My pledge to you is to try harder, more earnestly in this regard and I hope you will also. That is what community is about; bringing our best selves to the table and offering good will from each of us.
We can only grow and thrive if we each turn over the shovels of dirt and dig deep, spiritually and personally to grow a beautiful garden. We can also become a more mission focused activist faith community. If we can do that we will have moved further along the path of building a true community with a foundation that rests on trust and mutuality, a shared ministry to each other and a living breathing mission that reflects the core of our faith.
Our highest goal must be about building a solid community dedicated to becoming more socially responsible and to offer worship and music that transport the spirit and a welcoming and inclusive Life Span Faith Development program for both children, youth and adults that enrich our lives. These ministries can enrich our lives and give us the strength and courage to face the world with confidence. When we do that we can truly build a better world for all not just our own members. We must not only serve our current members but must open our doors to all and to welcome in the stranger with a radical hospitality. We must offer our hands and hearts and assistance to every new person who walks through our doors. A stranger is just a friend we have not met before.
Think back to the first time you came to UUFP. How did you feel? Could you do something this week and every week to make a new person feel more welcome and accepted? Why not offer the kind of welcome you would want? It’s easy. Stretch out your hand in welcome and say HI. It’s a beginning, not an end.
We too often have the attitude that our faith is so good that people should just naturally find us. Perhaps that is a bit of wishful thinking. What do you think? Why not go out and spread the “Good News”, the gospel of social justice to those who do not know of us? Why not ask a friend to church next week and each week? I do it all the time. It doesn’t hurt a bit.
Our faith is built on love and optimism. We are all saved, never damned and always welcome. Our God of whatever understanding offers hope and possibility not judgment. Our faith accepts those who travel on their own path with or without a faith in a deity, an entity beyond ourselves. We welcome all who are seekers after truth with rationality and with open eyes. We live the questions of life with comfort, not fear. We revel in finding new paths to personal truth.
If you want UUFP to be a church with these goals that also offer our children to have a faith-filled life then we must support this community with love while honoring our financial commitment and covenants with each other. I know we can be the kind of community you each seek and need. It just takes you saying yes to life and yes to UUFP. In faith,
– Rev. Paul D. Daniel