Sunday, March 3, 2013

HallelUUjah, Indeed! By Natalie Briscoe

I am so honored to be serving as one of the new Congregational Life Consultants for the Southern Region. I served as a Director of Religious Education and a Healthy Congregations Consultant for several years, and I truly see it as a calling and a privilege to serve Unitarian Universalism. Although I currently live in Seattle, Washington, I cannot wait to move home to Austin, Texas, where my heart is warmed (both literally and figuratively). I am especially delighted to be one of the first members of the HallelUUjah staff team, along with my cohort Kathy McGowan, to be hired specifically as a regional consultant.   Regionalization is an effort to be better stewards of our time, money, and resources.  As we move ever forward with these goals in mind, the way our staff groups are organized is changing to better meet the needs of congregations and clusters.

The Unitarian Universalist Association is not a denomination, but rather a collection of independent congregations who choose to be in deep relationship with one another. According to two of our organizing documents, the Cambridge Platform and the Orlando Platform, congregations have an obligation to help one another embody the Faith of Unitarian Universalism. In order to live this ideal out in our Association, we gather together for the good of the Faith at conferences, annual meetings, and General Assemblies. We send our Elders – meaning those people in our congregations who are able to teach Unitarian Universalism and keep our covenants – to neighboring churches to aid in their growth and development.  We share with one another the ways in which we choose to live our covenants and participate in joint efforts of social justice and meaning-making.

As I see it, my job is not to provide congregations with added services or to put on regional programming, although this perception is common through the former district model and is certainly not out of the sphere of what I will spend at least a portion of my time doing. My main job, however,  is to bring the Cambridge Platform and the Orlando Platform to life by connecting congregations and Elders of our Faith with other congregations and Elders. We are not a hierarchical faith; we need to rely on each other. I am here to help those connections happen.

In the upcoming months, Kathy McGowan and I will be contacting the congregations in the Southwest Conference to assist in the many transitions that are occurring right now and ensure that the congregations in the west of our region are fully served.  After these transitions are complete, the entire HalelUUjah Staff Group will be working as a team across the entire region to strengthen connections, congregations, and clusters as we build Beloved Community together.

I look forward to many years of serving the Southern Region and getting to know each of the Southern Congregations in the process. It is a pleasure and a great honor to be in covenental relationship with you, and I look forward to growing our Faith together! HallelUUjah indeed!