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Letters from the Minister: May 15, 2024

As May fades into June and summer swims right up to us . . .

This June is a General Assembly where we are looking at our principles and values, but looking backward there are a number of milestones that warrant remembering.

May 5, 1819 – William Ellery Channing gave a historic sermon at the First Independent Church of Baltimore – daring that the name Unitarian was more than the insults hurled at him at Harvard – and challenged us to be guided by Reason along with Tradition.

May 26, 1793 – The first Universalist Convention occurred, daring to make the theological view of Universalism – that all of us are loved beyond any missteps or misgivings and that the church exists so that every and all souls may grow.

May 12, 1961 – the Universalist and Unitarians married – forming the UUA, a faith tradition that was post-structuralist and post-modern, post-christian yet part of the Christianities of history, and deeply engaged in Reason, Free Thought, and intentionally pluralistic drawing upon the world’s sacred teaching, the prophetic works from Humanity’s social advocates and sages.

This GA our Unitarian Universalist Association looks at Article II from the UUA bylaws – the place where we declare our principles and sources, and contemplate new wordings to express our values. We are an evolving tradition that believes Revelation is not sealed or limited to past experiences or orthodox teachings – just as Channing taught 205 years ago. We engage, discovering this for ourselves, co-creating a world we want to live in. And, just like our Universalist forebearers taught, Love is the central mission of our Church and tradition.

At GA, however our UUA delegates decide, reason will guide us, but so will our emotion; there will be emotions and passionate pleas as we decide our guiding values and principles. I trust that our tradition will not fall into the pattern of orthodoxy – the way things have been solely because that’s how they’ve always been. We will continue to do the Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression and Multicultural work of Loving ourselves and our siblings into a relationship that acknowledges pain and trauma and promotes healing: Love and acceptance as the ultimate balm for our society and communities.

I encourage all of you to read these recommendations from the UUA:

I hope you all can reflect on our tradition – to think and feel your way through the dilemmas of creating meaning and relevance in our communities for the people who have different language to describe themselves than you might, and different views than you might hold – making friendship and comradeship an ever possible state for all souls.

Amen, and Thank you,

Rev. Will Humphrey