Rev. Leland’s Weekly Message

November 15th, 2019

Minister’s Message: Big News! A More Connected UUCE!

Decades ago Marshall McLuhan said “the medium is the message”.

Today marks the first phase of our communication and information transformation. Our message promotes the value of connection, integrity, and transcendence. Now we will do this through our communications media as well. This UUCE congregation has an uncommonly wonderful, kind and generous spirit. Given the urgent needs of the moment, and the opportunity to use media to engage us all in a yet more participatory community, we will become even more effective in spreading our mission.

My message here may sound technical, but please bear with me, our progress today is tremendously spiritual and important to our growth. We are making great progress in the use of current media tools for our engagement, to expand the reach of our mission, find more like minds and hearts, and effectively manage our information. Things will look different, we hope you enjoy it. Try it out and  let’s share what we think, like and want changed.

You are reading this “Minister’s Message” in the Unichord or on our website, so you can probably see some of the changes. We have created news and events on our website for all of the items that go into our weekly Unichord, and the newsletter now links each item title to a dedicated webpage.

Integrating our publishing of newsletter, website, and social media is going to give all access to current relevant information with links to more information. This is ultimately going to save Sheena a lot of time—which is great because she has lots to do that supports us all!

Going forward, any of you who are interested and willing can post your items directly to our website and it will automatically go out in the Unichord newsletter as well. QuickGuides (one page directions) for posting News and Events are accessible from Unichord and the website. We will also provide video and in-person support.

We will be setting up member accounts to the website so that you each will be able to login and get access to members-only information. In the next couple of weeks we are setting up this archive of member information and will distribute your account id and password. (which you may change as you wish) You will need to login to post comments on anyone else’s post, or to make a new post or event. When you make a post, it will be submitted, and Sheena, Todd, or I will review it and publish it. Only Sheena will publish events so that we are sure there are no room conflicts.

Other member-only information in the Member Area will be Board Minutes, Reports to the Board, By-laws, Mission Statement, Covenants, and our Member Directory.

Jump in, click around, and let us what you think!

— Rev. Leland with a lot of help from my wife, Rev. Deborah

 

November 8th, 2019

Minister’s Message: How to Grow Our Church and Share Our Mission

Many of us are working together to raise the voice and participation of our church in the larger community. We have great faith, a great congregation, and great faith to share, and we are creating new ways to share it all. We hope you will to join the effort, one way or another. There are many ways to participate—look for updates in this column, on the website, in the Unichord, on Facebook, in church, in workshops, and more.I’d love to know—Are you using or visiting any of these:

  • Our website (uuce.org);
  • Unichord Newsletter;
  • Facebook.com/uucelgin (public page);
  • Twitter.com/uucelgin;
  • Facebook UUCE Bulletin Board (private page); and/or the
  • UUCE email bulletin board (bb@uuce.org)
  • Instagram (should have been included)
  • Looking at Our Church with New Eyes

Let’s walk around the building and grounds for the next few months with an eye to what needs fixing or improving, or beautifying. Each room needs something. At Worship Team meeting Wednesday we thought about what the Sanctuary space needs. Removing the hymnals was the first step in this round of making that important room more attractive. We thought of bringing in symbols of other religious faiths. Or, someone asked, shouldn’t those be something that is on view at the entrance vestibule that already has sample of liberal religious thought? We thought about where symbols of social justice might be arranged, symbols that remind us of our values: something referring to BGLT empowerment, and the valuing of Black Lives, and Democracy, and protection of our environment.We want to make our interior as beautiful as possible too, and so we hope some of you will be interested in selecting paintings, drawings, sculpture, fabric arts, and ceramics to appear for a while, and be replaced by new beautiful things, in the same way that new photos and reports of activities keep our website and Facebook, Twitter, etc presences not static, but ever-changing over the months.

Are we (our church) as attractive as we can be for people looking for a place for a wedding, to rent, to meet?

What Are Your Thoughts?

Before our community outreach and social media begin to work, we need to:

  • Prepare our building and grounds for potential new members;
  • Form a group of us who know everybody so that we recognize visitors;
  • Create a small team of trained greeters, so that newcomers are
  • welcomed, given refreshments, and perhaps taken a place where they can have a conversation while viewing the congregants busy having fun after service;
  • Hold a 30-minute workshop on how to overcome our hesitation to introduce ourselves to strangers;
  • Recruit a cadre of 3-4 who are willing to show visitors the grounds, especially the Labyrinth.

An Example of the New Creative Energy

After Wednesday’s Worship Team meeting, after talking about the aesthetics of the Sanctuary, and what to do with the huge gift singing bowl that we can’t make sing,
Dave Yeager said, “I want to see that singing bowl.”
Five minutes later, our singing bowl SANG!Please call, email, or visit me with your thoughts on any of this, so that we can work together to grow.— Rev. Leland

November 2nd, 2019

Minister’s Message: Spiritual Wisdom

The mail-lady delivered me a booklet the other day titled Spiritual Wisdom, from New Harbinger Publications, Oakland, CA. ‘Harbinger’ is a word you don’t see every day.  It means a person or thing that announces the approach of something else. So I opened the seals of the little booklet to find out what is approaching, and it turned out that what is coming is more and deeper consciousness.

Some considerable care went into the production of this 24-page booklet. Color images, an attractive typeface, and a wide array of authors, with works mostly under 300 pages, and mostly available for under $20. The booklet is a catalog of writings on the subject of non-duality, a term I understood right away but was not familiar with the varieties of religious philosophy that it comprises, nor how long it has been around.

The authors may be known to some or many of you: Rupert Spira, Amoda Maa, Mooji, Greg Goode, Joan Tollifson, and a dozen more. The titles were attractive too:  The Unbelievable Happiness of What Is, Beyond Mindfulness, The Transparency of Things, The Untethered Soul, The Mirage of Separation, and so on. Much of the religion is Hindu and Buddhist-based.

It didn’t take much of a leap to see that this non-duality is a form of small-u unitarianism that contains the same spirit and intuition that can be summed up as ‘it’s all one (or One, if you like). The encyclopedia agrees: religious expression of non-duality includes Unitarians and Universalists.

Duality sets up things in separation, and opposition:  mind and body, good and evil, heaven and hell, all of which inculcates a mindset that is more disposed to think of people as ‘us and them.’ Thinking of ‘them’ as being foreign and ‘not like us’ is the root much fearsome evil-doing.  Being a good Unitarian, I am not a dualist, I’m a ‘monist,’ which turns out to be a real word.

It is better to have everybody be ‘us,’ all of us, and this applies to fellow congregants, and our nearby house of worship, and relations between communities and States and nations. It applies to races and genders and orientations and classes and all the other little things that can divide us. If we allow it. Let’s work to not allow it, and instead work on being ‘us,’ all together. More on this in this Sunday’s Service.

— Rev. Leland Bond-Upson

If you are interested in varieties of unitarianism, drop this URL into your browser:

https://www.newharbinger.com/sites/default/files/catalogs/2019-spirituality-catalog.pdf