Last month I shared from the pulpit my conviction that the values that we share and express as Unitarian Universalists call us to do the work of love, justice, and inclusion. For me, this is not just the work of one sermon or worship service but our daily lives.

Last year, your ministers and many congregants participated in the Beloved Conversations Within program offered through Meadville Lombard Theological School. This program focused on opening our hearts and minds, examining our individual stumbling blocks and hopes. The leaders of the program share that “it is a program for Unitarian Universalists seeking to embody racial justice as a spiritual practice. In Beloved Conversations, we are here to heal the impact of racism on our lives, in order to get free together.“

Those of us involved found the program to be transformative and powerful and challenging.

This year, a group who were involved last year will be working with the next stage, broadening the internal work to focus on our religious communities. Beloved Conversations Among begins this fall. We will be working with a coach who will lead us to look at the breadth and depth of our congregational life: How are we together? How do we do the work of the congregation in ways that are inspiring of inclusion, belonging, and diversity.

On November 14, I will be leading a worship service focused on this year’s work in this area. You will certainly hear more from the group as the year goes along and I hope you will get engaged in this transformative work as it comes up. It is our own hearts and minds we are growing along with our congregation’s thriving.

in peace and love

Rev. Ian

Minister’s Message Recent Posts

Bread not Stone: Envisioning the Future

Hello Friends,

And the wheel of the year turns and December becomes January and a new year begins. In some ways it’s an arbitrary shift—a flip of a page in a calendar. But so many of us see this shift as an opportunity to imagine new possibilities in the year ahead.

Dear ones, in many ways, the life of the congregation continues: we worship together, we learn together, we raise the money we need to help our beloved community thrive, we grapple with the painful realities of the world and how we can understand and make change, and we engage in the work of moving ourselves and the world toward justice, kindness, and love.

Bread not Stone: Minister’s Message

This is the time of year when the days get shorter and shorter and the night gets longer and longer. When it feels like we live more in darkness than we do in light. And so the festivals and celebrations of this time are all about light: the light of candles, the...

Bread Not Stone: Pluralism

This month we continue our exploration of the values that unite and inspire us as Unitarian Universalists. A reminder that individuals and congregations across the Unitarian Universalist Association are exploring these values in preparation for deciding on adopting new language in our UUA bylaws that express our shared values and covenants with each other. We’ll be sharing conversation and reflection together, including in our Chalice Circles each month.

For November, we’ll be looking at Pluralism.

Bread Not Stone: Interdependence

Hello friends,

This month we begin our exploration of the values that unite and inspire us as Unitarian Universalists. A reminder that individuals and congregations across the Unitarian Universalist Association are exploring these values in preparation for deciding on adopting new language in our UUA bylaws that express our shared values and covenants with each other. We’ll be sharing conversation and reflection together, including in our Chalice Circles each month.

For October, we’ll be looking at Interdependence.

Bread Not Stone: How Can We Help?

Hello friends,

We see in the news so many stories about hardship and abuse of immigrants and refugees and those seeking asylum in our country. It’s often difficult to know how we can help.

A small group in our congregation has been meeting and having some conversations about ways in which we can help and have an impact on the situations of people in our valley and area.

And we want to explore ways our congregation and its members can help in more ways, especially with people experiencing struggles with our immigration and asylum systems.

Bread not Stone: Pondering the Principles

Hello friends,

It is such a full time for us in our congregation. We’re kicking off our pledge drive to plan for next year’s budget. We’re working to create new possibilities for moving from contract ministry to settled ministry. We are beginning to read and explore Mistakes and Miracles together as a congregational read.

And there’s lost happening in our larger movement as well, including exploring how we describe and envision our faith tradition through Article II of the bylaws of the Unitarian Universalist Association. 

If you don’t know, Article II of the UUA bylaws contain the formal statement of our UU Principles and Purposes: saying what the purpose of our association is, what are the principles around which we live our faith out in the world, and what the sources and inspiration are for that work and that faith….

Bread not Stone: We hear you. We love you. You are not alone.

The past weeks in our country have shaken many of us to the core. The revelations of the congressional hearings, continued gun violence, the attacks on trans youth and their families, and the Supreme Court’s removal of the protection of the rights of women and many trans folks to control their own bodies and choose how and if they want to bring life into the world.

I’ve heard from so many of you about the fear and anger and confusion that you are feeling—and your fierce call to act to bring change, to ensure health and fairness for all, to help the most vulnerable among us to access the health care they need to keep themselves and their families safe.

Bread not Stone: Everyone is Connected to Something

In her novel Akata Woman, Nnedi Okorafor writes, “Everyone is connected to something. Connection brings you benefits, but it also makes you responsible.” It is a reminder to one of the characters that she is responsible for the health and safety of her community.

How do we respond to the pain and anxiety and violence in the world around us?

My friends,
As I sit to write this column for you there are bombs and deadly artillery falling on the people of Ukraine, there are children and families in Texas and Florida whose governments are telling them that their love and very existence is wrong and abusive and abhorrent, and there are still thousands and thousands of people sick and dying in our communities and around the world—dying from disease, but also from a lack of care and love and commitment to health for all.

Bread not Stone: A Bowl of Stones and Shells

Dear Friends,
I have a little bowl of stones and shells on my bedside table. I know that they came to me, one by one, from almost every place I’ve been and moments I’ve shared with loved ones and colleagues. But I couldn’t tell you where each individual stone came from.