From the Board: February 2019

I am one of those rare Unitarian Universalists who grew up in a UU church. One of the most vivid memories I have is going through the Our Whole Lives program. The first gathering was a day of trust building so we would be comfortable talking with each other about uncomfortable subjects. While one person climbed up to a platform about six feet off the ground, the rest of us all stood across from each other with arms bent at the elbow and palms up to make a zipper pattern. Collectively, we would catch the person as they fell backwards from the platform. A perfect way to show how we can support each other and trust that everyone will keep you safe….until you drop the first person….Luckily, she was uninjured, and we got the hang of it as we each went in turn. Like many things in life, earning, giving, and receiving trust is a learning process.

Our relationships to and within UUCM are often described in terms of covenant where promises are made between individuals, between the board and congregation, and between various groups within the community. Trust underlies promises. We make a promise, and the person or group we make it to trust that we will keep it. Inevitably, a promise will be broken, and that will damage or break the bond of trust. Often, it is possible to rebuild trust. Life is a process and we all make mistakes, break promises, and learn from that experience. Sometimes, the harm is too great, and the covenant is broken.

I’m writing this coming out of a day-long leadership retreat in which we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of our UUCM community. Continue reading →

From the Board: January 2019

What does it mean to be a people of possibility?

Possibility is the topic for January 2019 from the UUA Soul Matters curriculum, and the theme of our worship this month at UUCM.

The background material from this month’s topic suggests that possibility is one of the most basic founding aspects of our religion: “Historically, when others saw depravity and sin at the core of human identity, we saw potential.  When many were preaching that this world was fallen, and we should look instead to the hope of an afterlife, we found ourselves falling in love with the possibility of heaven on earth.”

But what about us personally? Trusting in possibility may not be as easy for each of us on an individual level. Trusting in possibility challenges us to risk disappointment or even failure. It involves being willing to endure some level of hurt, especially because our current world can be so painful and challenging. Continue reading →

From the Board: December 2018

The opposite of knowledge…isn’t always ignorance. It can be wonder. Or mystery. Possibility. And in my life, I’ve found it’s the things I don’t know that have lifted me up and pushed me forwards, much more than the things I do know.” — Pico Iyer

I found Pico’s description of wonder and mystery to be insightful as I thought about the UUCM mission:   In a spirit of wonder and with courageous love, we connect, grow, and act.

I was also struck by the connection to the work of the Sacred Solidarity Network (SSN) in which UUCM is participating.  SSN is a cohort of congregations meeting for an ongoing cycle of action and learning. By engaging in a planned curriculum, groups come away with a customizable racial justice toolkit. Rev. Terri Burnor is a member of the SSN coordinating team.

One of SSN’s plans is to encourage us to realize that there is not just one right way.  “We need to try new things and assess how they work- moving from isolation to a network….” Continue reading →

From the Board: November 2018

What is memory? What would we be without it?

All my experiences, all I have practiced and learned, all my conversations and connections, all my creations and catastrophes, collected in these neural networks that constitute me. I am memory, my personal history. Some memories are encoded in my muscles; dance steps, piano scales and guitar picking rhythmic  patterns. Some are olfactory; sorghum and black walnuts at great-grandmother’s house. Many are auditory; lyrics from mother’s hymns, grandpa’s ditties, adolescent love songs and funky folk songs. So many of my memories are collections of words from teachers;  aphorisms, poetry, philosophy, chemistry, physics, math, physiology, anatomy, the mementos from my long strange trip. I have been privileged to witness births and deaths, weddings and divorces, joyful reunions and devastating losses all stirred into this jambalaya I call my life so far. Continue reading →

From the Board: October 2018

Sanctuary – safety, security, comfort, refuge from the turbulence in our lives. Churches are one of the places that humans, through the ages, have sought sanctuary.  They can offer hope, acceptance and love to those who enter them.  When we feel safe and accepted, we can begin to feel empowered to start looking outside our place of sanctuary and towards the challenges in the greater world.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka is one of those places I seek sanctuary in my life. I come here to get recharged and revitalized each week. Not only do I find comfort and refuge from the turbulence in my life, it has given me the strength and knowledge to address the injustices I see in the world. To be truthful, it can be very exhausting to always confront injustice when I encounter it, so I choose my battles.

It’s important for each of us to reflect on how well we are creating a sanctuary that invites others in, because if we do that well think of what we as a community can do outside our walls.

Here at UUCM we are fortunate to have a team, or “Troika” as they like to refer to themselves for a short time.  The Reverend Meg Riley, Reverend Terri Burnor and Arif Mamdani each are bringing skills to help us together create the Beloved Community we are longing for.  They will challenge us. They will teach us. They will enlighten us. They will help us together create that sense of sanctuary where others are welcomed in and where we feel empowered to bring our voices out into the world.

Mike Elliott
Board of Trustees