Friday, April 25, 2008

dreaming big - wake up

I appreciate the "Dreaming Big" initiative (see below); I agree that we need to focus on large-church ministry as a separate specialty; I respect all the ministers leading the effort. And I wonder: why have our seminaries been left out of the project? Did they really turn down the opportunity? Or is this another example of our movement (all of us, not just our leadership in Boston) under-valuing and under-supporting theological education? I hope this project succeeds, *and* I hope it somehow incorporates Meadville Lombard and Starr King.

"Dreaming Big is a ministerial development program co-sponsored by the Senior Ministers of Large Unitarian Universalist Congregations (SMOLUUC) and the Ministry and Professional Leadership staff group of the UUA (MPL) created with a small grant from the Panel on Theological Education as part of the Association's excellence in ministry conversation. It is intended for ministers not currently (or only recently) serving in UU congregations of 550 or more members who believe they have a vocation and good potential to serve these congregations as lead or co-minister. The development team for Dreaming Big includes the Revs. Janne Eller-Isaacs, Jane Rzepka, Scott Alexander and Gary Smith from SMOLUUC, the Revs. Beth Miller and Jory Agate from MPL, plus a consultant, the Rev. Susan Beaumont, large congregation specialist with the Alban Institute." (I couldn't find a link to a program description on

Friday, April 18, 2008

fast day 1812 (and 2008!)

William Ellery Channing preached the following words on a Fast Day sometime around 1812:

“We have lived to hear the strange doctrine, that to expose the measures of rulers is treason; and we have lived to see this doctrine carried into practice…The cry has been that war is declared, and all opposition should therefore be hushed. A sentiment more unworthy of a free country can hardly be propagated. If this doctrine be admitted, rulers have only to declare war, and they are screened at once from scrutiny. At the very time when they have armies at command, when…their power most formidable, not a word of warning…must be heard. The press, which is to expose…abuses, must not utter one rebuke…although our best interests and most valuable rights are put to hazard by an unnecessary war! [If we] let rulers…know that, by placing the country in a state of war, they place themselves beyond the only power they dread—the power of free discussion—[then] we may expect war without end.”

fast day proclamation 1863 (and 2008?)

In March of 1863, Senator James Harlan of Iowa introduced a resolution asking President Lincoln to proclaim a national day of prayer and fasting. The resolution passed, and Lincoln did sign it. The following is excerpted from that proclamation:

“…whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men…to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon…

We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined…that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!...

I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord…

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

fast day 08

From the first Fast Day in the U.S., in 1670, through the last national Fast Day, grieving Lincoln's assassination, to this year's Sixth Annual re-created UU Fast Day, the holiday has served as a time of humility and reflection. Hunger sharpens our senses, and the disruption of our routine can aid us in re-engaging our world with a deeper awareness.

Since 2003, when Professor Dean Grodzins, then at Meadville Lombard, suggested it, students and congregations have been fasting on a Thursday in April, then coming together to break their fast with a worship service and potluck that evening.

Join UUCGT as we celebrate Fast Day 2008, on April 24th. Good fast to you!