When my partner Melissa and I decided to get married, we planned out a ceremony that included the hymn “Sing Out Praises for the Journey.” It was the third verse that struck us as particularly appropriate for that occasion:
Stand we now upon the threshold,
facing futures yet unknown . . .
It was a prescient choice. To be sure, each year (none more so than this one!) has presented us with new variations on an unknown future.
In what seems now like a long-ago congregational meeting, we opted earlier this year to change our name. What once was the “Unitarian Church of Charlotte” and then the “Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte” is now the Unitarian Universalist Community of Charlotte. In keeping with our commitment to a democratic process, this change reflects the collective voice of our membership, a consideration deliberated and then approved by those participating in this long process.
We’ve spent the summer “celebrating community.” We’ve offered services and other opportunities for us to reflect on and acclaim what it means to be a part of a “community.” We’ve explored various elements that make up a “community” and celebrated aspects of our community as well as other communities in which we are invested.
Now, as we turn to the congregational year that lies before us, we are embarking on a deeper engagement with this notion of “community” and of us as a “community.” As is obviously the case for each of us
individually, so too for us as a community we stand now “facing futures yet unknown.” Among the questions now before us are:
- What kind of community do we want to be?
- What are the “boundaries” of such a community?
- What are the “barriers” that currently keep us from being the community we aspire to be and that keep others from becoming a part of our community?
- Who “belongs” at the UUCC and who doesn’t experience a sense of “belonging” here?
- What might it mean to become more like the community we want to be?
We don’t approach these questions without guidance. We’ve put our intended identity into words already. In both our Vision and our Mission—both also democratically approved by our members—we have articulated audacious aspirations. We want to be:
- a community where spirituality, social concerns, and environmental commitments meld;
- a community deeply invested in the work of real “transformation”;
- a community where we are “challenged by our liberating faith”;
- a community where we are consistently invited into an ever-deepening sense of spiritual meaning both as individuals and collectively;
- a community where we nurture one another with love;
- a community where we are constantly expanding our comfort zones by cultivating ever more courageous connections;
- a community where we are equipped to find our way into work, not just that cares for those in need but that conspires to create justice.
In our service on Sunday, September 13, 2020, we embarked on this journey of exploration. For this year we’ll keep asking ourselves the kinds of questions that are a part of this article. And, we’ll be using what we’ve already said about ourselves to explore responses and engagement.