Sunday, April 26, 2009

What would make our churches healthier?

The UU faith would be healthier if there was less unkindness. Most of the time, UUs are kind to each other. But every once and a while, good people get their ears burned off by their angry co-religionists. Linda Laskowski quotes from a letter by Gini Coulter

At the 2007 General Assembly, I invited leaders of then-current and former affiliates to meetings to try to help them imagine what they could/might do next because I knew there was lots of frustration about the changes. The UUA trustees who had been most closely involved with implementing the new criteria wished me luck and said I shouldn’t expect too much from these meetings. I’m an optimist, but they were right to be skeptical of the results of my efforts. I was verbally abused and treated in other totally inappropriate ways by leaders of some of our former independent affiliates.

A friend who works at the district level told me a similar story, about bringing some unwelcome news to a group of (adult) YRUU facilitators, and being shocked at the level of verbal abuse she took. I've also know a whole series of past congregational-presidents who don't come around so much any more. Several of them have said that the level of verbal abuse they took in the position had shocked them. I've heard the same from at least one treasurer. And I've received a few doses of it myself over the years. A common theme was that this over-the-top criticism had come from people who were usually temperate, mild mannered and kind.

What would make your faith community healthier? asks Rev Matt Tittle. I've stated the answer in the double negative: less unkindness. By that, I mean that more kindness isn't really the solution. No matter how much kindness we've received over the years, it can be greatly undone by a single angry heated tirade.

I don't know if we're better or worse with this than other denominations are. But I know we've lost some good people over the years to it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Splitting the parents group

One of Parents Covenant Groups has a great problem - too many people. It meets monthly at members' homes for a potluck and a parenting-discussion, with paid sitters riding herd on the kids for the discussion time. Usually we've got about 10 adults and as many kids. But recently we've had as many as 18 adults. Too many -- people can't really talk, so the attendance falls back.

Splitting groups is the "Here there be dragons" of the Covenant Group map. But it was clearly time. The leaders polled the group. They decided to meet at the church for a while for a large-group potluck supper, and then break into smaller discussion groups. Had the first such meeting yesterday. Just in time, too. Four new families showed up(!)

We needed somebody to let us into the building; one of the grand old men of the church showed up with a key. He looked at the ~15 adults and ~18 kids milling around when he arrived. He shook his head and laughed. "I recall when we called our first minister to this church." He waved his hand at the crowd. "We didn't have this many people in the whole church back then."

All dogs go to heaven, ETC.

ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN says the sign on the Catholic Church. ONLY HUMANS HAVE SOULS - READ THE BIBLE retorts the sign on the Presbyterian church. Read the whole thing at Nancy Rommelmann.