Today is October 1st —though the weather feels more like August—and this marks exactly one month since I started my journey of ministry with the Fellowship. After seven dinners with small groups of the membership, and five Sunday morning worship services in your sanctuary, I feel like I am beginning to get to know you. If you missed the series of dinners, let’s make a time to have lunch or coffee together so that I can get to know you better.
As I write this week, I’m in Selma, Indiana at a retreat center with other UU ministers from Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky. In addition to Mount Pleasant, congregations from Michigan represented here include Midland, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Kalamazoo, and Troy. New ministers, established ministers, and retired ministers are here; ministers from small and large and mid-sized congregations are here.
We are here to wrestle with challenging things in our denomination and in our world: how to be in healthy covenantal relationships; how to do the work of being anti-racist, anti-oppression, and multicultural. Our fellow Unitarian Universalists across the state and the region have the same goals that we do, the same values, and the same struggles. Being at this retreat with my colleagues reminds me that we can learn from one another, we can support one another, and that we are stronger together.
One of our conversations here has been about the essays distributed at General Assembly in June by the minister of the UU church in Spokane, Washington. Guy Newland talked about this in his sermon last Sunday. These controversial essays unfortunately contained a lot of misinformation and a lot of statements hurtful to people of color and transgender people. The arguments in the writings are similar to what’s found in the rhetoric of white supremacist groups…and this was written by a UU minister. As I wrestle with this, I’m thinking a lot about people in UU congregations who feel threatened or uneasy about the profound changes happening within Unitarian Universalism around race and gender especially, but also around ability and disability. We are doing deep work to examine our current practices and try to be more inclusive and less oppressive towards people of color, transgender people, and disabled people—and it’s not surprising that there is some push-back. My hope is that the push-back leads to dialogue and understanding, not to name-calling and excluding. I’m thankful to Guy for his excellent, nuanced sermon on Sunday that allows us to continue these conversations.
On Wednesday I’ll be back in Mount Pleasant, refreshed and inspired by my amazing ministerial colleagues, eager to continue the work of love and justice within our congregation and in the wider community. I’m happy to be on this journey with you and with Unitarian Universalists everywhere.
May we find time to refresh and renew ourselves in order to better do the work that lies ahead. May we be blessed with friends who challenge, inspire, and support us. May we know that there are many, many people--known and unknown, near and far—who share our passion for peace and justice, and who will work with us for a better world for ourselves and for the children of tomorrow.
Yours in faith and service,
Andrew (Drew) Frantz
October 1, 2019
Monday 10:00-12:00, Tuesday 4:00-6:00,
and by appointment.
Day off: Friday.
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