This is my response to the eight, ninth, and tenth open-ended questions in the survey provided by my congregation's Ministerial Search Committee. The first response and the background behind these survey questions can be found here.
Would you like to see the church’s membership grow? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of growing?
I would like to see the congregation grow so much that we need to create new UU congregations in Shreveport to handle the numbers and theological diversity.
It would be very selfish of me to not want congregational growth. We don’t realize it but Unitarian Universalism does offer salvation. We can save people in Shreveport from those things that deny life or make it less whole.
Our UU tradition of offering health-promoting and sexuality-positive information for our youth is one very concrete example of how we offer salvation in our world. Since the early 1970s, UU churches have provided “About Your Sexuality” for youth. Today we offer the “Our Whole Lives” lifespan sexuality education program for children, youth, and adults.
Are there any special issues that you would like our Ministerial Search Committee to consider and on which you would like to express your views?
- How comfortable would a ministerial candidate be with promoting lifespan sexuality education and other matters related to congregational sexual health at All Souls?
- How comfortable would a ministerial candidate be with promoting the theological foundation of Unitarian Universalist youth ministry found in YRUU (Young Religious Unitarian Universalists)? These concepts include “youth empowerment,” shared youth-adult leadership, “power shared equals power multiplied,” youth ministry as a form of anti-oppression work that addresses ageism, etc.
- How comfortable would a ministerial candidate be with promoting congregational involvement in other types of anti-oppression work like “Welcoming Congregation” and “Journey Towards Wholeness”?
What would make you want to attend Sunday Services more often?
I usually don’t attend Sunday worship because I’m in the RE wing for most Sundays. Given that fact, you probably don’t want to listen to my thoughts.
But I’ve also found that what most Unitarian Universalist congregations offer on Sunday morning to be much less spiritual, less deep, and less intense than the typical worship experience I’ve seen at weekend YRUU rallies, SWUUSI youth camp, and UU young adult conferences.
From my experience with youth and young adult conferences, I would like to see us break out of the traditional Protestant “Sermon Sandwich” model for our worship services. There are UU models for doing alternative and contemporary worship that would free us from the mostly non-participatory, unidirectional communication style, lecture-sermon worship model that we inherited from our Protestant history.
Could our worship be done in a “circle worship” format instead of the current “rectangular” format?
Could it happen outside from time to time? Does it have to happen on Sunday morning? From a circadian rhythm point of view, Sunday morning is a bad time of day for some youth and young adults.
For youth and young adults who attend school five days a week, a worship experience that is a lecture-sermon is just another day of school work for them … do we want to add an extra day of work to their school schedule? Or do we want to offer a worship experience that allows one a chance to let his or her soul catch up with him or her … a refreshing break from the very busy lives we all lead?