I read two blog posts tonight that really spoke to what I currently feel defines my emerging ministerial formation.
One is from UU A Way of Life and the other is from Ministrare. One church (not necessarily UU) member says, according to David Marhkam, that "If this church has a soul, I don't see it or feel it."
When I first found UUism, I was in rejection. Not necessarily even of my childhood Catholic faith, although I am happy to reflect and laugh about my cultural hangover from those days, but of religion in general. As I've grown spiritually, and been lucky enough to be a member of a dynamic, growing church, with fabulous ministers who are creative, atheist, and also soulful, I have moved into journey of discovery. Not rejection, but embracing the soul, the mystery, and the power of our faith. That is something that as a minister, I want to bring to others. I am even evangelical in what is hopefully a respectful way about that faith. I have rediscovered God. I have rediscovered prayer. And in ways that make sense for me and others, I have been able to define my faith in our Judeo-Christian culture.
Secondly, they say that every minister has their hot button. For Forrest Church, it's death and dying. For me, it's radical hospitality. Today I sat in a (not church) board meeting where someone suggested that we not bother following up with someone who came to visit our organization, because it was really their responsibility to decide if we were right for them and make the moves. I mean, yeah, in the end, but if they have no idea that we care about them being there, or finding out more about them and if they are a good fit, or asking if they have questions...why would they bother? It's the same for church, and for life!
Radical hospitality has become a prophetic issue for me. I cannot live my life without being hospitable to those around me. And it's something I love about my church. We may not do it perfect, but we do it pretty well. And it's one reason we're growing. And we don't DO hospitality for growth. We do it because it's the right thing to do. It makes sense. It's kind, compassionate, welcoming, loving. Ministrare's list of why people don't come back after visiting is clearly because there is a lack of hospitality. That is a crime.
If and when I ever become a minister and find a position in a parish, my ideal is to offer soul and hospitality. There are lots of details underneath all of that, but to me, that is the heart of what UUism has to offer. It's a UU Way of Life, as the title of David Markham's blog suggests. And if people get soul and welcome, I have to believe they will find a home with us.