When I was in conversation with the Search Committee sixteen years ago I naturally spoke with each of the former ministers—to check references, the way they did with me.
One of the things that each of them had words of praise about was the parsonage. Ed Lane said, “Westport has the best parsonage in the entire denomination!” I lived in it for almost a year, and it was, indeed, a wonderful house. But it didn’t become a home for us. So we moved out and bought our own place.
Now the former parsonage is a wonderful Meeting House. The Board of Trustees has been meeting in the Northup Room—there have been small pot luck suppers and adult education classes there, as well as Sunday school classes. The youth group meets downstairs and the Coming of Age class—with a record 28 participants—meets in the upstairs classrooms.
Our Ceremony of Dedication, with the children’s choir singing “A Prayer For This House,” and the Northup family’s participation, and each of the staff’s enthusiasm about the uses to which the new Meeting House is being put, and the architect’s affirmation—and your presence and participation—made the event effective and moving. Thank you!
I was humbled by your congratulatory applause for my thirtieth anniversary in parish ministry. The sermon, including the full text of the Robert Frost poem I used as a text, are available on our website: www.uuwestport.com. We’re trying to keep our website up to date.
Did you notice the recent edition of our UUA World magazine? The cover story is titled “UUA Pounds Away At Structural Racism.” The cover illustration shows nine demolition workers dismantling the foundation of racism while a new day dawns behind the wrecker’s ball.
I am completely and unequivocally in favor of the sentiments in the illustration, and in the stories behind it. Racism is an insidious evil which we as religious persons must work to eliminate from our own hearts and minds as well as the basic structures of our society.
The program put together by dedicated folks at the UUA, called Journey toward Wholeness, deserves our attention and support-but certainly not our blind, unquestioning participation. As Unitarian Universalists we are committed to the critical way in religion, as former interim minister Duncan Howlett put it in the title of one of his books.
I have given a great deal of thought to this issue during the three decades of my professional ministry, as well as the previous three decades of my life. In reading the articles in World’s cover story, I discovered that I am among the ministers mentioned who have some serious questions about the approach taken thus far.
I’m concerned about the use of guilt-producing methods. I’ve always had a negative response to holier-than-thou assertions that suggest, “I’ve arrived at enlightenment, though I was once a sinner like you.” One colleague summarized it nicely when he said, “I wish we could be both antiracist and anti-rightous.” The racism issue goes to the heart of our religious/spiritual lives. Let’s take a deep, thoughtful look together in the months and years ahead. We must be part of the crew of volunteers who are working to dismantle racism!