Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Widening the Lanes on Relationship Highway

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.
-- Rabindranath Tagore

This is one of my favorite quotes. It’s not because it is fun to say Rabindranath Tagore’s name (though it is fun to say!), it is because it is one of the truest statements I hold dear in my life and in my ministry. I know many of you have a fondness for this particular quote, and I also am aware that many of you find joy in serving your communities and congregations, just as I do.

We are on our way! Meaning we, as the Southern Region, have set sail, and are now seeing the horizon unfold before us, as the familiar territory of what was slowly fades into memory. We come to the never before navigated, uncharted territory of what it means to be in deep interdependent, covenantal relationship with our neighboring congregations, our Region, and our Association. We have embarked on a long term experiment of sorts, one that will challenge us, move us to the edges of our comfort zone, provoke us to boldly go where no Region has gone before! Sounds exciting, right?! What does it really mean though? For you and your home congregation? What does the dissolution of the SED, FLD, MSD and SWUUC governing boards and covenanting as a region mean in your back yard?

It means we have swung open the doors to building relationships with our neighboring UU congregations and Interfaith partners- we no longer have hard boundaries keeping us siloed, but nice dash lines (like those on the highway) to move in and out of the areas we are called to. It means we have to be intentional about our relationships and stepping up and in to new roles and saying “yes” when asked, or, better yet, seeing the need and pitching in without being asked sometimes. It means being open to and available to your neighbors when they are in need, as you hope they are for you when you are in need. It means asking how someone is and really listening to their response.  It means we must honor the feelings of loss some might have after being a part of their District structure for a long time, and reminding ourselves that our regional family has grown and we have many new friends we just haven’t met yet. It means looking outside of our own congregations and seeing how we can influence our whole Association and change the world, not just our own congregations. It means the change you have been asking for is here! YOU ARE IT, and this is your opportunity to help shape the next phase of our Faith movement!

There is great need for communication and relationship in our modern world - that is why many found our religious homes in Unitarian Universalism in the first place. I wish to inspire you to express your passion, and find others throughout the Region who share the same. The Regional staff is here to help support the founding of new ‘affinity’ clusters with tools, resources, and coaching. What are you most passionate about? What would you like to start or be a part of? Who knows what good things this could lead to? For example, maybe a passion of yours is knitting. I know we have many great knitters out there! Getting together with others in your area sounds like a grand idea, but what if you knew of several other groups around the Region with the same interests? And then, what if you were to have a Skype session or two to get to know one another and a plan is hatched. Your group decides to make hats and scarves for a shelter in each city in the new cluster. Tada - the Southern Region Knitters for a Warm Winter affinity cluster is born! It could really be that simple: meet new people, learn about them as they learn about you, and do good works for our communities and our Faith. That sounds like a potential brick in the wall of Beloved Community to me.

Please know all your efforts in faithful service to Unitarian Universalism are appreciated and needed even more as we carve our new pathways! My colleagues on your Southern Region staff team and I are so proud and blessed to serve the congregations of Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas!  You can find your congregations’ Primary Contact by clicking the link here-

And remember: We are Better Together!

With Faith and Hope for a Bright Future,

Maggie Lovins
UUA Southern Region Congregational Life Staff