Time to move on?

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Mendalla

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Came home from a worship meeting at my fellowship in a rather bummed mood last night. With the minister gone, discussion is under way as to how to function as a lay-led community. The further we get into this, the more I am wondering if this is the place for me.

On the one hand, I have a lot to contribute. I am respected as a worship leader and the lack of a minister means, most likely, more opportunities to do it.

On the other, the service formats being discussed really highlight the essentially humanist nature of the fellowship and don't seem to have a very strong spiritual (as I understand the term) component. A Sunday a month to have a discussion of Congregational Health in the service time? I've already spoken out on that one.

The other issue that I am seeing is the lack of resources. We have five people on worship all of whom are on other committees or the board. That is nowhere enough person-power to organize 4-5 Sundays a month for 9-10 months out of the year. Even with RE taking a service a month (one suggestion) and someone doing these discussions (we are making it clear that worship is not going to run those) we are still looking at 20-25 services a year plus the small group summer services that we have to organize, if not run.

Part of me wants to soldier on because I am a UU at heart and want to see us have a presence in the community. OTOH, I am really concerned that with no minister, a shrinking volunteer pool, and a sense of crisis, spirituality/religion is going to get short shrift no matter what I do. I have several options in the UCCan (fairly progressive local congregations like Wesley-Knox). I have a monthly spiritual discussion group (run by a Bahai friend). Perhaps that is enough and I should give my fellowship and its troubles a rest and move on for at least a while.

Is staying or going the saner option here?
 

Jae

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Hmm Mendalla - how much control - if any - do you have over how spiritual the services will be when you ate acting as worship leader? If a lot - or even some - it may be worth it for you to stay as you can act as a positive influence in that way. If little or none - it may be time to go. It sounds like you are already considering other alternatives. Spirituality is a very important thing. I would recommend that you discuss these things with at least one other well-respected member of your UU community. If you choose to go - do your best to leave peacefully. Rich blessings.
 

crazyheart

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Mendalla. is there another UU near you that you would feel more spiritually fed. Does your family go? What are their thoughts?
 
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Mendalla

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Jae: I try as much as I can but that realistically covers maybe 4 services a year and, of course, I don't get to be in the seats for any of those. In the end, the balance of views is such that I have "nerfed" my services the odd time to avoid giving offence (e.g. avoiding the "G" word where I really want to use it). With a minister in the pulpit, esp. the last couple we've had, it works out okay because they help keep the balance.

CH: The next nearest UU is about 45-60 minutes way (Sarnia). It is a nice little lay-led congregation where I and other members of our fellowship have preached but it's too far, especially in winter. My wife has never gone save for the odd service that interested her (usually ones where I was preaching). She does not find enough spiritual content and generally prefers the UCCan when she goes at all. Little M will not have anything to do with church. Think chansen as a teenager. :D
 

Alex

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How do you feel about the other members of the congregation. Regardless of the spiritual side, are these people you like being in a community with?
 

Seeler

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Deciding to change your worship community is a hard decision. I had to face it. It was over seven years ago - just about the time the Wondercafe started - but it still sometimes hurts to think about it. It's a decision only you can make.
Sometimes I've heard of people using lists - one for the advantages of staying; another for the disadvantages; and maybe a third list - that of the advantages of moving on.
Questions to consider might be: where will I find food for my soul, and where am I needed.
 

Carolla

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So Mendalla - sounds like your congregation used to have a minister, and now does not - correct? Is there a plan to search for a new minister? Or is the decision to forego that? Is this a common thing in UU congregations? There is one in my community, and it does have a very active minister, who is also involved with the university & local hospital as well.

I can certainly appreciate your concerns about manpower to provide leadership - its a sizeable task - more than many folks appreciate I think.
 

Carolla

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I think revjohn's church is not too far from you - might make for an interesting Sunday morning roadtrip & maybe lunch to follow :cool:
 

Mendalla

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So Mendalla - sounds like your congregation used to have a minister, and now does not - correct? Is there a plan to search for a new minister? Or is the decision to forego that? Is this a common thing in UU congregations? There is one in my community, and it does have a very active minister, who is also involved with the university & local hospital as well.

I can certainly appreciate your concerns about manpower to provide leadership - its a sizeable task - more than many folks appreciate I think.
Our minister is technically still with us but is no longer doing services (due to contract terms, he still gets his summer vacation and study leaves) and will be taking up his new congregation in August. And we are not going to replace him. Simply put, if we continue to pay the going UU rate (including benefits) for full-time ministry, we will be bankrupt by the end of the current fiscal year. Lay-led congregations are still fairly common in Canadian UU'ism (Sarnia, St. Catherines are the two I know for sure in Ontario) so this is not unusual. However, we have not been lay-led since long before my time and at that time we were a rather different congregation (or so the congregational history suggests).
 

Justme

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Forgive my ignorance, what is UU? I'm presuming that UCCan is United Church of Canada?

I think it is a tough choice that you have. My Mom's church is tiny (about 25 people at most attend in a given week) - this past year they got by with lay leadership, "substitutes" and a contract position of some sort - the position is shared with another, equally small congregation down the line. If I understand correctly they looked at having rotating students come in, but now someone has decided to come join the area and will minister to the two churches on a part-time basis.

A church serves many purposes - a place to get rejuvenated by hearing sermons/reflections applied; a place to meet to discuss things of concern; and, a place to carry-out activities of some sort (contributing to the community, etc) - among other things. If you can't get that where you are, maybe it is time to move on - although it sounds like they would really miss you. Some churches like my United Church post (almost) all of the reflections on their web site - maybe you can get some Spiritual nourishment by listening to them in addition to your other options? Sad that this is happening. Good luck with your journey.
 

revjohn

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I think revjohn's church is not too far from you - might make for an interesting Sunday morning roadtrip & maybe lunch to follow :cool:
Waterford United Church is 107km away from the intersection of Commissioner's Rd. and Wellington Rd in London, Ontario.

Which may or may not be a particularly useful bit of information. I'm three weeks away from the annual pilgrimage east.
 

Jae

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Forgive my ignorance, what is UU? I'm presuming that UCCan is United Church of Canada?

I think it is a tough choice that you have. My Mom's church is tiny (about 25 people at most attend in a given week) - this past year they got by with lay leadership, "substitutes" and a contract position of some sort - the position is shared with another, equally small congregation down the line. If I understand correctly they looked at having rotating students come in, but now someone has decided to come join the area and will minister to the two churches on a part-time basis.

A church serves many purposes - a place to get rejuvenated by hearing sermons/reflections applied; a place to meet to discuss things of concern; and, a place to carry-out activities of some sort (contributing to the community, etc) - among other things. If you can't get that where you are, maybe it is time to move on - although it sounds like they would really miss you. Some churches like my United Church post (almost) all of the reflections on their web site - maybe you can get some Spiritual nourishment by listening to them in addition to your other options? Sad that this is happening. Good luck with your journey.
Hi Justme - UU is Unitarian Universalism. This - opposed to Yoohoo - which is a delicious chocolaty drink.
 

Mendalla

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Forgive my ignorance, what is UU? I'm presuming that UCCan is United Church of Canada?
Sorry, got used to using acronyms. As Jae said, UU = Unitarian Universalist/ism. Best reference is www.uua.org (Unitarian Universalist Association, our US/North American body) and www.cuc.ca (Canadian Unitarian Council, our Canadian body).

Short version:

Unitarian - began as Christians who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. This is a very old strand in Christian theology that is still present in Christianity today. In North America, a 19th century movement of Unitarians came together in the American Unitarian Association. Over time, became less explicitly Christian and after the war were joined by a wave of humanists seeking a non-Christian, non-theistic church environment (somewhat like today's Sunday Assemblies).

Universalist - began as the Christian theology that God's Grace was given to all and all would be saved. This is also an old strand in Christianity that can still be found in Christianity (e.g. there is a Christian Universalist Association based in the US). In North America, a group of Universalists formed the Universalist Church of America. The definition of universalism shifted and now means that religious truth is universal (found in all traditions), not just salvation.

Modern UU'ism began in 1961 when the AUA and UCA merged into the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Globally, there are Unitarian and Universalist movement in other countries, some Christian, so more like the UUA in not being explicitly Christian. The common element of all of them tends to be on religious freedom and tolerance; on moving away from exclusive notions of religious truth and experience to an acceptance that religious truth can come in many forms down many paths.
 
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Mendalla

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Waterford United Church is 107km away from the intersection of Commissioner's Rd. and Wellington Rd in London, Ontario.

Which may or may not be a particularly useful bit of information. I'm three weeks away from the annual pilgrimage east.
I do want to visit John's church at some point (if only to meet him) but it's a bit far to be my regular congregation.

And glad to hear the pilgrimage is on again. Have a good trip!
 

Mendalla

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Some churches like my United Church post (almost) all of the reflections on their web site - maybe you can get some Spiritual nourishment by listening to them in addition to your other options? Sad that this is happening. Good luck with your journey.


Actually, one option is the Church of the Larger Fellowship. This is a UU organization that operates as a congregation for UUs in areas that don't have, and are remote from, other UUs and UU churches. They stream services, post reflections and sermons, and provide services to small UU groups that may start up that are not really big enough to become a full congregation (home church type groups for instance). It actually predates the Internet and began by mailing out materials to members but, of course, has taken full advantage of the Internet as it has developed.
 

Beloved

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Tough decisions for you personally, Mendalla . . . do you stay, or do you go . . .?

I know there have been times in my church history where I've felt I was facing that decision. And so far, for me the decision has been to stay. So, I understand that it is not an easy one. I know for me, the biggest influence on my decisions was the people - not the denomination, not the theology, not the music, not the money, not the building, etc. etc., but the people. And that is why I have stayed.

We, too, are faced with financial concerns that at sometime in the not too distant future will cause us to face some hard decisions. I'm not too sure I want to stay in a church that would forego ministry personnel and exist through lay-leadership. For the same reasons as your struggles - we dont' have enough people will to assume leadership (of any kind), and it will fall upon the odd few. Sometimes I think if it were us, I would sooner just close, rather than die a painful death.

But the people I stayed for years ago are still there . . . and there are some who are not well and very aged, and I would like to see them be able to have their last service and be buried from the church they worked so hard for, served God so faithfully in, and worshipped in for many, many years of their lives.

Not easy decisions, no easy answers, but I wish you well as you figure things out for yourself.
 

Jae

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Sorry, got used to using acronyms. As Jae said, UU = Unitarian Universalist/ism. Best reference is www.uua.org (Unitarian Universalist Association, our US/North American body) and www.cuc.ca (Canadian Unitarian Council, our Canadian body).

Short version:

Unitarian - began as Christians who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. This is a very old strand in Christian theology that is still present in Christianity today. In North America, a 19th century movement of Unitarians came together in the American Unitarian Association. Over time, became less explicitly Christian and after the war were joined by a wave of humanists seeking a non-Christian, non-theistic church environment (somewhat like today's Sunday Assemblies).

Universalist - began as the Christian theology that God's Grace was given to all and all would be saved. This is also an old strand in Christianity that can still be found in Christianity (e.g. there is a Christian Universalist Association based in the US). In North America, a group of Universalists formed the Universalist Church of America. The definition of universalism shifted and now means that religious truth is universal (found in all traditions), not just salvation.

Modern UU'ism began in 1961 when the AUA and UCA merged into the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Globally, there are Unitarian and Universalist movement in other countries, some Christian, so more like the UUA in not being explicitly Christian. The common element of all of them tends to be on religious freedom and tolerance; on moving away from exclusive notions of religious truth and experience to an acceptance that religious truth can come in many forms down many paths.
(Hmm - so Unitarian and Universalist are not the same. Whatever brought the two groups together? Do you find that people within UU congregations slant more to one U than the other?)
 

Mendalla

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(Hmm - so Unitarian and Universalist are not the same. Whatever brought the two groups together? Do you find that people within UU congregations slant more to one U than the other?)
They were not originally the same but that changed over time, esp. once both had moved out of the Christian mainstream. The merger happened because, over time, they had grown close on a number of fronts and felt it would be advantageous to both groups. As I understand it, not everyone on the Unitarian side was happy though I am not 100% clear on why. Certainly, the humanists in my congregation put up a fight a few years ago when we tried to add Universalist to our name and the motion failed (we had over 50% support but our by-laws required a 2/3 majority).

I don't know many who identify as Unitarian or Universalist specifically so much as they identify as Unitarian Universalist (or just Unitarian) + their preferred "source". So you have UU Christians, UU Buddhists, UU Pagans, UU Humanists and so on. Personally, I just stick to Unitarian Universalist. I don't really feel an affinity with any specific one of our sources right now. My current theology is rather eclectic and doesn't really come from any one of the UU sources, but draws on several.
 
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Northwind

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Thanks for the description of the UU history. I had no idea. I remember the first time I met a UU person, in London actually. He basically said they do not have any core beliefs, and I wondered (and asked him) what was the point of gathering. I understand better.

Our congregation has gone through a similar experience, I personally have considered leaving. It is a tough decision. I suspect that I may have left if I hadn't gotten involved in Presbytery. That being said, we set up some worship teams. I think there are four teams who take teams doing the leadership. It has been cool in some respects, some of us have taken the bold step of writing sermons or prayers. We have used wonderful online resources and that has allowed us to get to know each other in different ways. We have had part-time ministry to help us, and were able to enter an agreement that involved sharing clergy with another congregation an hour away. Unfortunately, the minister was on sick leave for a year,so couldn't help us. She is back and that is good for many reason.

Our congregation has gone through a rough five years or so. We've done some healing. We have more to do I suspect. There is a weariness that continues.
 

Inannawhimsey

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Mendy,

so, no chance of your congregation's sermons consisting of guest speakers talking aboot their subject of expertise? Physicists, authors, philosophers, NGO creators, IT peeps, WC contributors, spiritual philosophers, Engineers, Cosmologists, Mayors, etc etc etc?
 
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