Cancelling Sunday Morning Worship At GA: Not A "Cultural Shift" -- A Mistake
This part disturbs me greatly,
"McGregor, of the Planning Committee, posted responses on the blogs and answered questions about the changes on the UUA-GA email list. She said that the changes 'are part of an ongoing multi-year effort to gently evolve the GA and shift its focus 'toward 'a meeting of congregations, where congregational representatives interact and learn, and delegates discuss and act on denominational issues and directions.'
'We're in the midst of a subtle but intentional cultural shift, with attendant discomforts,' she said.
'It's an experiment,' she added. 'We're going to try it and see how it works, but we're excited about the possibilities.'
This isn't personal, but I find McGregor's words an incredible insult to my intelligence and to the integrity of our member congregations and delegates.
We're an association of congregations: a religious organization. Our "business" is to share religious life, and the way we "interact" (could that language be more coldly corporate?) IS to worship. Our work as an association IS a form of worship; it is an incarnational expression of our highest values and our communal vocation as champions of the inherent worth and dignity of all people, among other things dear to us. When we worship together, we make explicit what is implicit in our gathering; that it is not "business" that ultimately brings us together, but reverence and a sense of calling.
To de-emphasize worship in our largest annual gathering isn't a "cultural shift," but a blatant attempt by one group to re-direct our priorities. I think that's dangerous, and I encourage you to watch this development carefully.
As for me, I am not feeling "attendant discomfort" about change. I am feeling deeply suspicious and angry that, just as many in our movement are finally beginning to understand that if we are to be taken seriously as a force for personal and societal transformation in the world-- and if we are to be respected and heard at the table of interreligious dialogue-- we must not shy from religious language, we must be willing to make professions of faith where we once offered only intellectual arguments against what we do not believe, and we must engage in religious life together not only for the good of our public reputation but for the good of our souls and for the sake of our work.
Again, this isn't personal. I respect the hard work of the Planning Committee but I think their orientation around this decision is deeply skewed and troubling in ways that they probably didn't realize when they began the discussions around this change. It's another case of not being able to see the forest for the trees.
We are not a secular organization. Any business we have that isn't grounded in spiritual solidarity is no business for us to be about. We do not build spiritual solidarity and cultivate reverence by spending Sunday morning in meetings.
This is not a "cultural shift," it's a mistake. A bad one.
Truly, my sympathies are with Ms. McGregor and her team for the conflict they've engendered. If they need the support of ministers and lay people in working through this and amending the error, my hand is up to volunteer.