5 May Minister Moment

I used a story by Jane Rzepka in our flower communion service which mentioned depression era stewardship pledge levels– 25, 50 or 100 cents per week. Imagine running a church today if each family gave $13 per year?  Times sure have changed.  Thank you to all who attended the Community Conversations, who shared stories and who reflected on how important UCN is in their lives.  Our slightly abbreviated annual stewardship campaign continues this Sunday.

Making an annual pledge is how we show our commitment to our congregation.  By the way, our bylaws define a voting member as someone who has signed the membership book at least 30 days before a meeting, made a pledge of support “and is working to fulfill that pledge.”  That means you must have at least one donation-of-record in the current year to cast a vote.  It doesn’t have to be all, or even much, of the pledge amount, but something. Our Annual meeting is coming up June 4th following the service.  (We also hope to welcome new members that day.)

Back in February, the Board held a retreat to clarify our developmental goals.  As you may recall, I am a “Developmental Minister,” here to help the UCN membership “develop” new understandings and ways of being a community.  Our facilitator, Rev. David Morris, explained that these goals were aspirations, not task lists.  They are areas of focus, without specific end points.

Developmental Ministry is for us to do together, and is in addition to normal ministerial leadership.  Here are the goals we set:

  • Develop a focused plan for transition in ministry, rooted in a clear congregational understanding of a minister’s role and our relationship with the Developmental Minister and future Minister(s).
  • Develop and strengthen systems and processes for growth in membership and retention of members
  • Consider our community climate and culture and their impact on membership
  • Focus attention on the connection between “The Move” and our identity
  • Maintain awareness of grief, loss, and anxiety and work to address them
  • Look for our work together to focus on each of these in special group conversations, one-on-ones and general meetings.  Our new monthly theme is “Trust” — and now is a good time to plan this work.

    Liberty and Justice for All: In a conversation before Tony Stein’s memorial service, Phyllis mentioned how Unitarian advocacy for integration brought them to our church. This reminded me of another member of blessed memory, Skip Earl, who worked for housing integration in Norfolk and especially resisting “blockbusting” and white flight. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockbusting

    Here is a link to a Federal agency’s Depression-Era map. It showed home lenders what areas were good risks for mortgage loans– block by block.  Note the “red areas” are called “Hazardous” and bad investments.  Racial makeup correlated to the risk.  Red = African American.  In effect, our federal programs funneled mortgage money to white Americans.

    For the next 50 years, availability of homeowner mortgages depended on the area color in this federally drawn map.  Until 1948 most non-red neighborhoods had covenants which forbid African American residence.  How do these long repealed rules affect our communities today?
    https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/#loc=14/36.8590/-76.3030

    We mourn Jordan Edwards, a black teen shot by a police officer while riding in a car leaving a party.  It is heartbreaking, how slow our nation is to learn.

    I am away this Sunday, see you in a week.  I am still putting together that service called “Trust your Mother.  Do you have a story about having a mother? A story of being a mother?  Drop me a quick note with a summary of the story, and maybe we can work it in to our Mothers Day ritual.  The same for Fathers Day, though that is a bit further away… send me a note or we can set up a time to talk further.

    I love you,
    Rev Charlie