The UUCM fiscal year begins on July 1. With it, we welcome Fred Hulting as the new President of the UUCM Board of Trustees and offer a warm and grateful farewell to Robert Brooks, who has served in this role for the past two years. Below are Robert’s parting reflections on the state of the church and of the world.
John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” 2020 has certainly given us lots of that life. In January the Board posted our congregational record, initiating our search for a new minister. We had planned more congregational listening sessions, our annual pledge drive, our congregational survey, revisions of UUCM bylaws, fulfilling our first annual focus goals in the council of ministries. It looked like a sprint to the finish line for fiscal year 2020. Then the pandemic arrived.
All those plans were repeatedly altered through February and March. Tens of thousands of deaths in Seattle and New York were flooding mortuary services. Hospitals were overwhelmed with Covid-19 cases. On March 15 all UUA congregations were advised to suspend face-to-face meetings until further notice. There was panic hoarding of toilet paper, masks, gloves. “PPE” (Personal Protection Equipment) became a meme. We suspended our stewardship drive and revised our budget with contingency plans. We learned from other congregations and each other how to gather in virtual spaces. In some cases we learned how to make our connections even more available and meaningful using Zoom. We successfully adapted our annual congregational meeting to the virtual space. We hired Rev. Lisa Friedman as Developmental Minister to start in August. International protests grew out of video documentation of police killings of people of color. Riots grew out of the protests. Serious consideration of reforming the policing paradigms has raised some hope as well as provoking fear, greed, projection, and spates of ironic nihilism. All the predictable co-opting and counter demonstrations followed. Like the Taoist curse, we are living in interesting times.
These interesting times have made us (and I’m speaking as a white person) more aware of the intersectionality of what previously might have felt like disconnected events. It became apparent that Black people, indigenous people, and people of color were disproportionately dying from the pandemic. Food, housing, and health care insecurities covaried with poverty, zip codes, and population densities, echoing centuries of institutional inequities faced by BIPOC.
For many white people, the interdependent web of all existence has become less abstract, more concrete. It has become real individuals, real tragedies and heroes. Our comfortable distance has been disturbed by the tugs on the web of linkages. We are affected by what others do at a distance from us. How will we respond this time? Flee, fight or freeze? Listen, learn, lean into the disturbance? The world is watching in real time.