Thursday, July 24, 2008

Retiring from Navy and from Congregation Leadership - At Loose Ends

Hello everyone,

I haven't looked at this blog in a while and need to catch up. I am going on separation leave from the Navy in about a week and have also just "retired" from two years as President of my Congregation - so as you can imagine I am doing a bit of soul searching.

As a Congregation President, I focused a lot on church business, fundraising, "growth" (all four kinds), building consensus, and on vision / strategy development. As a result, I kind of lost sight of why I joined a UU congregation in the first place. I was looking for two things - a compassionate community to which I could "come in from the cold" of an increasingly harsh world and also a place in which I could explore my growing awareness of social injustice - to include the injustice of war and social and economic inequality.

Instead, as a church leader, I found myself in what I (only half jokingly) refer to as my "third command". Now that I am done with that, I am reflecting on what I am doing in the UU community. I am wondering where we as a faith community are going with regard to issues of war and peace, and social injustice. I know that the UUA has a peacemaking focus for the next few years but I am wondering what issues we are embracing and how deep is our commitment to them. My contact with our district and with the UUA has been mostly concerning issues of church management, growth, and money. All of the efforts in these areas are important but only if those efforts support accomplishing something greater in the world.

I have been inspired recently by President John F. Kennedy's 1963 American University speech ( as well as by President Jimmy Carter's statement about war: "War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children." My hope is that UU's can be at the forefront of realizing the vision these two men have.

So, not so much as "military UU's" but as UU's who happen to be in the military, what are your aspirations for our faith community? What would you like us to achieve and be known for in the next 20 years. I'd really be interested in your thoughts.


Tom Beall


Bill Baar said...

The JFK speech a good link.

Carter... well, I think many of today's problems have roots in poor decisions under his watch. Consider the Peace made in Zimbabwe during his years too.

But set that aside.....

One suggestion I've made to my own Church's group considering the peace making statement of conscience (I dislike that creed like term too, but set this aside too...) is to contemplate the declining number of wars worldwide, ask what drive that trend, and figure ways to encourage it.

As a practical faith, you'd think we'd be on top of practical solutions; and never more so than on something like a world without war which was thought awfully impractical not so long ago.

It can be achieved but I'm not sure UUs will contribute much towards it. I fear too many who speak for us locked into a view and language they can't get past.

Anonymous said...

What would we and other religious liberals like to see happen in the next 20 years? For me the dream hasn't changed much; it's about each person having his or her own vine and fig tree, a place at the pond. "And none shall make them afraid" For a start.

Maybe this is a good time to reread Walden?

There are so many ways to contribute that the problem might be finding the appropriate one.
Meanwhile, thank you for your service and welcome to civilian life.

Sean Honea said...
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