Creating the Beloved Community at URV

June 8, 2021

{The URV Town Hall Meeting was held on Sunday, June 13, 2021}

I hope you will be there because I think this Town Hall will be important for our spiritual community in many ways. The pandemic is not over, but given the vaccines and other measures, we are in the process of reopening our buildings. Back on April 25th, we started holding in-person Sunday services at 11:00 am in the URV sanctuary. Before then, for a year or so, our sanctuary was, in essence, a TV studio where we recorded our YouTube services. We are still recording and posting weekly YouTube services, but it is great to see and be with people in the sanctuary.

At first, we had a reservation system, masks, and social distancing. But as the Governor’s executive orders and CDC guidelines changed, we dropped the email reservation system and masks (if one is fully vaccinated). We were also able to loosen up a bit on the social distancing. Then on Sunday, May 16th, we reintroduced fellowship after the service in the Fellowship Hall and the Rose Garden.

We were also able to begin scheduling weddings and other events at URV. We are in the process of finding ways to reintroduce small SpiritGroups within our community. The Governor – as of the writing of this blog/column – is still considering several proposals concerning youth and the pandemic. But we hope the resuming of in-person programs for the Youth and Family Ministry will happen soon.

Many people in our community have expressed the goal of doing much more than just reopening the buildings at URV. Winston Churchill said, “Never waste a good crisis.” Yes, there were many wonderful things at URV before the pandemic, but wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could use this “crisis” to go from “good to great” (to borrow a phrase from Jim Collins of Stanford and the University of Michigan)?

Our URV Vice President, Pat Eby, has coined an excellent term – ReUnity! What is ReUnity? Well, I think ReUnity means following Churchill’s advice and making the most of this crisis period. It means a rededication to Unity principles. It means taking our spiritual community to new and positive levels. But more importantly: What does ReUnity mean for you?

That is why the URV Board of Directors recently surveyed folks to find out their hopes, dreams, and concerns. What is working for you? What is not working for you? Where would you like URV to go? Think what this time period could be if it were more than just reopening the buildings!

At the June 13th Town Hall AlMena Hughes, a URV Board member and the chair of our new HR/Staffing Task Force, will lead us in a meditation and consideration centered on URV’s Core Values. Currently, these Core Values include: Spirited-Centered, Integrity, Inclusivity, Love, Gratitude, and Transformation. There is a wonderful pamphlet on our Core Values which you can download here or get a printed copy at the church.

URV Board President Jeremy Johnson and other URV Board members will review the recent survey results at the Town Hall Meeting. The URV Board of Directors also has been working on a new strategic plan. Nothing is set in stone, and this Town Hall Meeting is designed to get your input on all of the above in a spirit of love and respect.

In the process of all of this – ReUnity, Core Values, survey results, a strategic plan, etc. – I have been speaking with Unity ministers from around the country and studying several powerful books. I have also treasured the emails, text messages, phone calls, and visits from many of you. Your comments and suggestions mean a great deal to me.

First, in talking to leaders of other Unity churches around the country, I think URV has come through the pandemic in better shape than many other spiritual communities. We came up with many new and innovative ways of serving the community during this crisis. But we do share some very similar challenges – and opportunities – compared to several other spiritual centers.

Second, I have gained a great deal from your suggestions. Please keep your comments coming. I value your suggestions!

Third, one book I have been studying in this process has really stood out to me. It is Creating the Beloved Community by Jim Lockard. Jim is an ordained minister with Centers For Spiritual Living, another branch of New Thought. Jim has a deep and rich ministerial background.

The term “Beloved Community” comes from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King wrote, “Our goal is to create a beloved community, and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.“ For Lockard, the Beloved Community “is a place where purpose and passion meet, where we practice being the person we desire to be and support others in that effort. It is where our faith in spiritual principles is realized as true compassion and service.“

The Beloved Community “is like an incubator – a place of safety and support for the kind of inner exploration needed to gain self-awareness and develop compassion. It is also very often a base of operations for outreach to the larger community and the world,” Lockard notes.

Lockard also says that the Beloved Community sees “obstacles as gifts that allow something new to be called forth from within us; some new strength, skill, or level of compassion. This perspective is itself transformational, for instead of working to keep things from going wrong, we simply work toward the vision and treat any obstacles that appear as part of the process.”

Lockard makes many wonderful suggestions about how to make the Beloved Community a reality. I look forward to exploring this with you in future blogs/columns, Sunday messages, and classes. I am very interested in your reactions and suggestions concerning the idea of a Beloved Community at URV.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Town Hall. I do believe that ReUnity can be empowering and fun!

Many blessings,

Rev. Rick

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