Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day: Expanding the Circle of Grieving

This is the sermon that I delivered at the First UU Church in Toledo, Ohio.
May 24, 2015
Memorial Day

Reading: From Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory by David Blight

African Americans founded Decoration Day at the graveyard of 257 Union soldiers labeled "Martyrs of the Race Course," May 1, 1865, Charleston, South Carolina. 

The "First Decoration Day," as this event came to be recognized in some circles in the North, involved an estimated ten thousand people, most of them black former slaves. During April, twenty-eight black men from one of the local churches built a suitable

Monday, May 04, 2015

the difference between "principles' and "virtues"

 Unitarian Universalism backed into a type of moral reasoning based on principles when we adopted the Seven Principles.

A "principle" is a formalized abstraction. "The inherent worth and dignity of every person." The moral reasoning that follows the promotion of a principle is discerning what they principle means and how to apply it to real life situations.  Because we have seven principles, we have to also reason through how this principle relates to others. (Should the first principle be first, or should the last be first.?) And finally, because principles are generalizations, they can be tested by trying to find the boundaries and the exceptions, which leads to a lot of discussions about Hitler. Did Hitler still have worth and dignity?

"Virtues", in contrast, are character traits, habitual behaviors, and a mixtures of emotions and rational thought. A virtue is a way of being human. I have my list of the virtues of liberal religion: self-possession, honesty, humility, generosity, reverence, openness and solidarity. They are not impersonal beliefs but inclinations. You may have your own list; the words are not that important.

The moral reasoning that follows when I commit to these virtues is how do I best exercise these aspects of my character in the situations I find myself.

I think that our 7 principles are useful ways to summarize #uupublictheology.

But our ministry with persons made impersonal and stunted by our focus on principles. It reduces our challenge into invitation to join us in a conversation about what our principles mean and how should they be worded and then applied.

Better that our invitation and challenge to persons should be to grow in the virtues that we seek to embody in the world.

We have the fear that Unitarian Universalism suffers from being too abstract and impersonal. That it lacks a profound personal dimension and does not inspire, but only educates, stimulates and convinces.

I would really like it if we stopped trying to explain ourselves and struggling the words that will cover all that we believe. I would like it if we stopped saying that our communities are somehow super special, and that our way to being a religious institution is so much better than every other kind.

What I would like for us to say: we are trying to grow into the virtues we need for the lives we now live in. We are trying to be better people, because it will bring us more health and happiness and it will make a better world.


Sunday, May 03, 2015

From Principles to Virtues

This is the sermon I preached at the First Unitarian Church of Toledo on May 3, 2015.

I was at one of those many conferences about growing Unitarian Universalism, 10 years ago, when it came to me to ask the question: Why would someone want to be a UU? Actually, the question was a little more sharply focused. For what purpose would a person be a Unitarian Universalist? 

What’s our invitation? 

That question led me to today’s reading: William Ellery Channing’s I call that Mind Free.  (#592 in the Singing the Living Tradition.) 

William Ellery Channing
[WEC was the founding theologian of American Unitarianism: a Boston minister, active from about 1819 to somewhere in the 1840’s) The reading is an excerpt from a much longer sermon: Spiritual Freedom, which Channing gave in 1830. So, this comes from the very earliest days of american Unitarianism.

Reading "the Free Mind", and re-reading it, and reading it with the congregation I served in Worcester, MA, it came to me that when Channing described the Free Mind, he was describing the kind of person that he wanted to be, and the goal of the liberal religious life. Setting the mind Free was his understanding of spiritual growth. It is to grow into certain strengths, becoming a person of character, and developing a certain number of virtues. 

So I saw that “I Call That Mind Free” was Channing’s description of the the spiritual path of liberal religion. Of course, that is hard for us to see that because it is written in such lovely and complex 19th Century vocabulary and grammar and sentences. 

So one of my projects has been to bring this up to date — not to rewrite this, but to blow the breath of the 21st century into that 19th century language. I see seven essential virtues of liberal religion suggested in Channing. Why seven? You could slice and dice them differently and come up with different wording. But we have seven principles and so seven is our lucky, sacred, magic number. And because now with Facebook and the Internet, it seems that making a numbered list is the most common style of article.  So I could name this sermon: Seven shocking ways that Liberal Religion wants to make you a better person or “Seven secret UU tricks to becoming a better person"

I’ll tell you them now: Self-possession, honesty, humility, gratitude, reverence, openness and solidarity. 

The first virtue that Channing talks about is “Self Possession”. His final sentence talks of the Free Mind as being one “which is calm in the midst of tumults and possesses itself.”  Self possession is thinking for yourself, the ability to maintain your mental boundaries, to be what many today call self-differentiation.  Thinking for yourself is one of the cardinal virtues of Unitarian Universalism. Indeed, some think that it is the only virtue of liberal religion.  

But what stops you from self-possession? Channing shows some ways that we give up self-possession. 

Let me talk personally. What are the obstacles to my self-possession — my ability to think appropriately for myself. 

One is that our default way of thinking is what we get from our parents and families. Accepting uncritically what you get from your family and your people. Just to talk one small example. I grew up in a family where many men became ministers. As a result, none of my extended family lived in the same town as another. I assumed that was normal. My daughter married a man whose family all lives in the same town in Massachusetts, which confounds me. To have a free mind is to recognize that what I believe may be just opinions I inherited.

Channing says: I call that mind free which jealously guards its intellectual rights and powers, which does not content itself with a passive or hereditary faith.

My thinking about where one should live is a passive and hereditary way of thinking. 

How else is my mind proven to be unfree? 

Today we talk much about privilege, or the relative advantages that some of have because we are
white. How much does that unconsciously shape our thinking? Many of you, like me, grew up in circumstances that made us see the police as friendly forces that keep us safe and that the worse they will ever do to us is sternly give us a speeding ticket. We are learning now, I hope, that for many other people, that is not their experience. We cannot change who we are, but we can become aware that how outward circumstances of our life can shape and control what we think.

Channing argues that to have a free mind, to be wise spiritually, is to free ourselves from such assumptions.

As Channing says: I call that mind free which is not passively framed by outward circumstances. 

What else?

I know that I am an easily suggestible person. I follow fads and fashions. I like the pop song I hear most on the radio. I hit that like button a lot on Facebook. IF i see a sleek car advertised, I want to buy it. I like charming politicians that I don’t agree with. When I was working in the Information processing, my boss took me off the committees picked products to buy: He saw that I usually liked the last vendor I saw. I am easily persuaded. Left to itself, my mind is easily taken over.

Channing writes: 
I call that mind free which protects itself against the usurpations of society, and which does not cower to human opinion: which refuses to be the slave or tool of the many or of the few.  

Marilyn Mosby announcing the indictment of six
police officers in death of Freddy Gray.
Marilyn Mosby is the State Attorney in Baltimore. Her mind is free. Think of all the pressures on her mind as she made the decision to indict the police officers who killed Freddy Gray.  If she had given herself over a passive and hereditary worldview, her family history in law enforcement would ruled her work. If she cowered to human opinion, knowing that the police with whom she worked everyday might turn against her. She, on the other hand, “guarded her intellectual rights and powers” and saw her way to do the right thing.

Most people face a crossroads moment sooner or later in their life—a moment when they have to think for themselves and go against the crowd when the crowd is going the wrong way. Channing is saying that one of first goals of the liberal religious life is to train ourselves to do the right thing, even when everyone around is going the wrong way.

So the first strength that we need to cultivate is self-possession. 

What else? Self-possession is the path to living honestly. You need to be honest, and by honest, I mean that you have to live in the truth. 

Liberal Religion and Unitarian Universalism call upon you to face the facts: our signature gesture of the 20th century was to insist on incorporating scientific knowledge into spirituality.  We said that you have to know the difference between a scientific fact and a beautiful, even life-giving, truth-revealing story.    

In the 21st Century, you have to face the facts of your social position -- all the ways that you social position has made your life easy and all the ways that it has not.  

But to live in the truth, you will have be humble.  You may be smart and you may be self-possessed but you don’t know everything -- and you certainly don’t know how other people see the world and how they feel.  You may see police as people who will keep you safe. You have to be humble enough to know that others see the world quite differently, and their perception is as true to them as your perception seems like “common sense” to you. So you have to be quiet and listen more times than not. 

Honesty leads to Humility and Humility leads to gratitude and reverence. For all that which is not you.  We sing an old hymn: For the beauty of the earth which talks about The beauties of the Earth, the splendor of the skies, and the love which from our birth, over and around us lies.  Each of us would be happier and healthier if we held that beauty and splendor with reverence and with gratitude. We should hold the world and its people with the all reverence and care with which we would wash your grandmother’s wedding china after the Thanksgiving meal.

Channing says it this way: I call that mind free which is not passively framed by outward circumstances, and is not the creature of accidental impulse: which discovers everywhere the radiant signatures of the infinite spirit, and in them finds help to its own spiritual enlargement.

Awwwwww !
I know that gratitude and reverence are about as controversial as fuzzy puppies and kittens with balls of string.  Nobody opposes gratitude and reverence.  But I have been in situations just this month when I saw no “radiant signatures of the infinite spirit” anywhere.

So where are we? I have taken from this text, five mental strengths, five habits of the hearts, five virtues, five goals that Unitarian Universalism asks you to work toward: Self-possession, Honesty, Humilty, Gratitude and Reverence.

 Do you see what I am getting at?  The goal of Unitarian Universalism  is not about building churches and congregations -- at least, it is not only about building churches and congregations.  It’s not only about building a religious community. It is about changing people, starting with ourselves.  It’s challenging others and ourselves to claim ourselves -- to lay hold of our own agency, our own to power to act, and live our lives with honesty and humility and gratitude and reverence. 

There are also two other strengths suggested by Channing. 

The sixth virtue is Openness. Channing says that those with a free mind “open itself to light whencesoever it may come, which received new truth as an angel from heaven” I love that word “whencesoever”. I doubt that I am the only one in this room, who has to struggle to open myself to new truth whencesoever it may come, while guarding against the mental usurpations of society. To be open to new ideas, and yet not follow every passing fad.

And the seventh strength we are called to develop is Solidarity:
(Channing) I call that mind free which sets no bounds to its love, which, wherever they are, delights in virtue and sympathizes with suffering: 

We may not use the phrase ‘sets no bounds to its love”, but isn’t what we hope to communicate with our yellow tee-shirts. We stand on the side of love.


Channing goes further on this theme: “[the free mind]…recognizes in all human being the image of God and the rights of God’s children, and offers itself as a willing sacrifice to the cause of humankind.”

Solidarity, or Compassion, or Universalism !

I have come to the conclusion that this world is governed by exploitation and oppression, and that Life, including human life, is threatened by the imbalances of power; the decisions that will shape our future are being made by a few. If the future of humanity is at stake, the age-old question is again being raised: who shall be saved? Not from God’s wrath, but from but from human folly.  Right now, it looks who will be saved will be the wealthy and the elite. Our future looks a lot like a gated community.

We are called to “set no bounds to our love” and to “sympathize with suffering”.

We are here to challenge our friends and neighbors with our words, and our actions and our lives to embody compassion and fellow-feeling and solidarity.  To be sensitive to the one who is a victim in the situation, to watch closely and see the ways of oppression and privilege in the situations we are in. 

These seven strengths are what UUism asks us to develop and grow. They are an invitation to us, and an invitation to live in a different way. What we ask is not complicated.  It’s simple and pure and clean and beautiful.  It’s living another way, it’s living a better way.  It is dedicating one’s life to the virtues of honesty, humility, gratitude and generosity, reverence, openness, solidarity and self-possession. It’s putting aside cynicism, and cruelty, and callousness, and boredom, and self-absorption and narcissism. 

 Our message is not only for the middle-class; it is not only for those who think of themselves as white; what we ask of the old is what we ask of the young, the straight and the gay, people of all combinations of abilities, people of either gender, or both, or neither.


It is the work of lifetime, and the reward is your life well lived ------- and a better world. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Entrepreneurial Church: Weddings by Cindy Landrum

Our narrative is often that our churches are strapped for resources.  We can't do more, reach out more,
because we have limited staff time and energy and dwindling membership.

But there's a resource we have that truly has a lot of unused potential: our buildings.  They sit empty most of the week in most of their rooms.  Our sanctuaries, social halls, and RE classrooms largely, across the country, sit empty.  Of course most of us are happy to take in more renters, but renters needing the kind of spaces we have are hard to find.  We'd be happy to use this resource more if we knew how.

Another thing I think we could be doing more of: Weddings.  Many churches, particularly our large and beautiful ones, get more wedding requests than their ministers want to handle.  Maybe they turn people away, maybe they have a list of clergy they refer to.  But we're not out there seeking out more business, even though there's business to be had.  We're not marketing ourselves as a wedding business.  We're not building gazebos on our extensive grounds for the outdoor weddings.  We're not largely hiring wedding coordinators, and I don't think many of us have a box of stuff that couples might like to rent for weddings, from feathery pens for their guest books to clips to hold bows or flowers on the pews.

Yes, there really is more business to be had.  One need only look to the thriving wedding business Erika Hewitt is doing in Maine.  She reports that she has 30 ceremonies scheduled for this year.  But she has to take this business seriously, which means time and energy to put into it, as well as marketing.  And full-time ministers rarely have the time to do 30 weddings a year.

A lot of people who don't see the need for a church in their lives still see a need for a church for their wedding.  There's a big wedding business to be had, if we wanted to tap into it.  But part of it is that we've held on tightly to the idea that weddings need to be performed by our clergy, and our clergy want their Saturdays off, if they're paid sufficiently by the congregation.  Meanwhile, the larger culture has moved on, and is happy to have their wedding performed by their best friend who has never done a wedding before and has gotten ordained online for the occasion.  Our slack is being picked up by nondenominational wedding officiants with no training and a Universal Life Church ordination

Joey performs Monica and Chandler's wedding in Friends
Truthfully, there's little religious function left in your average wedding ceremony.  But just as truthfully, a lot of the weddings that are done by friends of the bride and groom or other amateurs are done poorly.  It doesn't take an M.Div. to know how to perform a good wedding, but it does take training.  And this is training that our ministers know how to provide.

So what if we clergy each trained one or two entrepreneurial people to become our wedding chaplains, and to aggressively market our churches for weddings?  We train these wedding chaplains, equip them with resources, and set a going rate for the whole wedding package including officiant for the church to charge, out of which the chaplain is paid, on a per wedding basis. Our churches get used, get income, and get hundreds of new faces through the doors.  Maybe they'll see something they like and come back on a Sunday, too. The wedding officiant can also do offsite weddings and these, too, can be structured to financially benefit the church as an outreach ministry.  But if we started thinking of our grounds as potential wedding sites, building the gazebos and trellises and having the hundreds of fold-out chairs available, over time we'd find ourselves going off-site less and less.  We have the beautiful locations.  We have the gorgeous grounds and the beautiful buildings and the extensive halls.  And we have the knowledge of how to do a truly wonderful wedding ceremony.  We just need to use these things in new and creative ways.

The Entrepreneurial UUA

The UUA created a successful, self-sustaining, surplus-creating health insurance company.


I don't know all the details of the story, but I have heard it recounted by Jim Sargent and others who are close to the history. The UUA risked a portion of its endowment, sought out top-quality experts in the health care insurance business, devised a sound business plan, hired competent and professional staff and sold it aggressively to UU congregations.  It has been successful, even though the health insurance business is notoriously difficult.  It falls short of a national single-payer health plan, but it works.

The work solved a problem that posed a significant risk to our ministry, congregational staffs, and many of our local congregations.

Today, there is much talk about other needs of local congregations that could be more efficiently met. My colleague, Cindy Landrum, calls for a "relentlessly useful UUA." She and others talk about the UUA providing back office services to congregations: centralized payroll, bookkeeping and accounting, member databases, web services, graphic resources, and more. Such centralized services could be sold to congregations and help focus their volunteer energy and other resources on their ministries.

But such improvements seem like impossible pipe dreams. After all, money is tight and the staff is stretched. Never gonna happen.

But remember, we created a health insurance company that works for us, when no other health insurance company was willing to cover us. And that should give us a model and some confidence that we could do what we need.



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Cause is Not Enough

The cause of Unitarian Universalism, as we now understand it, is not sufficiently compelling to generate the resources to continue itself.

There are not enough people sufficiently motivated to give the time and money needed to sustain our liberal religious institutions, as we now think of them.  Stuck in survival mode, we cannot gather the capacity to grow. The evidence is the declining pledge levels in many congregations.

Our cause is too small and too safe to ignite sufficient passionate engagement, the kind of commitment that we need. On the one hand, our cause is too big: all things to all people. And on the other hand, it is too small: this particular little organization in your town, this building, this minister, these people in all their particular ways.

To put in terms of our survival, the only thing that can make the difference is the passionate engagement of more people. 

We have to look beyond the people who are presently passionate about Unitarian Universalism. There is a much larger group of people we would reach IF they could see that we would directly connect them to the transformation that they are anxious to see in the world.

It means that our congregations must be more clearly purposeful. I recently wrote a series of posts on alternative growth strategies to the present "community building" strategy. Each proposal I floated was a variation on the theme of creating more purposeful congregations.

A lot of the recent conference of ministers in the MidAmerica Region (a name that sounds like a chain of tire stores) focused on multisite ministry and new start ministry. Those methods do not address the question of purpose. Multisite, especially, is a vision of stretching our resources by eliminating duplicate expenditures. It makes us more efficient; it doesn't help us grow.

Can we imagine a multi-site church which contains satellites with very different purposes and appeals? A parent church where one satellite is a young adult oriented new start? One satellite is an Earth Church? One satellite is a Co-Op Children's Church? One satellite is an activist church? One a missional project in a particular neighborhood? All robust network connecting them? A single back office, performing all the financial and database functions



?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pushback



We may be entering a divisive time for the Unitarian Universalist movement. UU ministers are responding to the great issues of the day: racism, climate change, reproductive justice, the religious counter-attack against GLBTQ people now that marriage equality seems inevitable. 

But then there is "congregational pushback."

I think it makes a difference that we are in a different historical era than the era that most of our experiences have come from.

Most of our thinking about congregational life was shaped during the period of conservative hegemony in US Culture.  Now, I think that we are living in new era as the more liberal and optimistic Obama era evolves into an era of more radical and militant social movements.

If we are truly the early stages of a major social movement, we face an inevitable time of shedding and growth in UU congregations. I hope that we are able to see that the soul of our denomination depends on gaining those who are most truly aligned with our values, and losing those less so. 

How that will develop will depend on how ministers negotiate the triangle between themselves, their congregants and "history",  which is my shorthand for the demands that our faith makes upon Unitarian Universalists in the present day. 

The three legs of the triangle:



  1. There is the relationship between ourselves as liberal religious leaders and "history."
  2. There is the relationship between our congregants and "history."
  3. There is the relationship between ourselves and our congregants. 








When social movements are quiet, the relationship between our congregants and "history" is less pressing. More people are concerned with other things: their jobs, their hobbies, their children and their education, sports, their own personal spiritual development, their intellectual pursuits, popular culture. Many UU's with significant relative advantages in the world can keep a distance for the demands of the day. 


When social movements are quiet, the relationship between ministers and "history" is less robust, as well. But UU ministers tend to be more aware of the demands of history then many of their congregants. So the clergy tends to be teachers, alerting the laity to issues that many are not aware of.  Prophetic preaching tends to be trying to get our congregants to care about something that they don't have on their horizon.

But the situations are different when social movements are active. Congregants have their own relationship to what I call "history."

Everybody has their own relationship to the
Black Lives Matter movement.
There are not many people in our congregations who don't know about the Black Lives Matter movement. They have seen the news coverage; many have heard contending opinions about it; most have an opinion, or a leaning for or against. Those opinions are all over the map.

They have their own relationship to it; and one of the first rules is that 'you can't fix a relationship that you are not in.'

I think that our role, as ministers, changes in a period of heightened social movements. We move from being teachers, informing our congregants about the issues, to being models, showing how we are responding to the demands of history. Our ability to persuade people is less; our ability to inspire people is greater.

UU ministers have to lead out of their own convictions, placing their primary emphasis on their own relationship to the social movements. We have to do what we are called by our faith to do; we have to lead by example.

The temptation is to focus too much on the relationship between the congregants and their minister.  What that does is bring all their (the congregants') confusions about the social movements into the pastoral relationship with them.  The minister becomes where they project their anger and discomfort at having their relative advantages named and challenged. They then think that minister has brought the social divisions "out there" into the "peaceful circle" of the congregation. The minister is at fault for not "balancing" the needs of all the congregants.

All of their discomfort, anger, fear and resentment would still be there, even if they were not members of the congregation. White people are being disturbed now everywhere.

The minister needs to be keep turning the question back to the congregants: "how are you going to relate to this social movement? This isn't about me, and it isn't about the church, and it isn't about the number of prophetic sermons I preach in a month. This is about how you respond to this social movement.  I can tell you how I am responding; I can explain my process, but in the end, this is about how you respond." 

Rev. Dawn Cooley's Four Challenges

Rev. Dawn Cooley, who serves the UU congregation in Louisville, KY, has written a series on "removing barriers to congregational participation." She challenges the conventional wisdom in four areas:

1. Congregations need multiple worship services with different styles and at different times to make it more possible for more people to worship with them.
2. Congregations need to provide more avenues for participation in the work of the church; attendance in worship should not be the only path to membership.
3. Congregations need to extend their reach with technology and social media.
4. Congregations need to develop more ways to ask for money than the annual pledge campaign.

Any of these would be a tall order for many congregations. Unitarian Universalists stick pretty close to one model of organized religious life: Building + Minister + 1 Liturgy + Congregation that does many small projects and programs.

Implied in Dawn's 4 challenges is a vision of a different kind of liberal religious movement: a network of people that engages each other and the surrounding community in many ways, but is held together not by a building, but through social media, and which provides many ways to participate in the functions of worship: gathering, inspiring, sustaining, dedicating, holding.

Reading through Dawn's series, the question occurs to me. What if we asked ourselves this question: What are the barriers to our congregation participating fully in the life of our wider community?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Direct Democracy and UUA “Citizenship” by Rev. Dawn Cooley

I continue to play with the idea of direct democracy and how it might be applied to our Unitarian Universalist Association. There have been 3 assumptions driving my ideas:

Assumption #1: That we want to bring more diverse voices to the table of governance at General Assembly.

Assumption #2: What we have been doing is not working.

Assumption #3: Continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

My first post on the subject was a thought experiment that engaged the idea that direct democracy might be possible and the benefits it could bring. The second post was about how participation in a UU covenanted community would be one criteria of how to determine “UU Citizenship.”

So what might other criteria for “citizenship” be? Let's add one more assumption:

Assumption #4: One-size-fits-all solutions don't really fit everyone.

With this assumption as an addition to the other three, I propose that we could create several different categories, with individuals being able to choose a subset in which to engage in order to achieve UUA “citizenship”.

For instance, there might be these three categories:
1) Participation in a UU Covenanted Community
2) Financial Contribution to the UUA (at some capacity, tbd)
3) Volunteering 40+ hours per year to the UUA (including regions & districts)

In order to achieve the bar of citizenship, one might need to achieve 2/3 of these categories. Or perhaps #1 would be required and then a choice of #2 or #3. So I might participate in a UU Covenanted Community and then also volunteer on a UUA committee.

It might also be that we have additional criteria and requirements. We are limited only by our imagination.

The central core of this idea is that there would be a list of potential qualifications from which an individual could choose a smaller subset in order to achieve the bar of “citizenship”.

In addition to the benefits already discussed in previous blogs, this methodology for defining citizenship would encourage people to get engaged at the district/regional/national level. With so many of our folks disconnected from such issues, this could be a great advantage to engaging around the issues with which our faith tradition struggles.

Of course, we would need to make sure the bar is high enough that a whole bunch of counter-UU types can't infiltrate the Association and take over – I know this was (is?) a worry for some of our congregations. I have confidence we could find a way to set the bar high enough without being so high as to become a barrier to participation, as well as put in proper precautions to prevent such an occurance.

Some of you might be saying “That is a whole lot to keep track of!” Since I come from a database and programming background prior to going into ministry, I think it is doable and that we should be tracking most of this type of information anyway! Particularly if the UUA were to recommend and provide standardization to covenanted communities for data management, tracking this information could be the least of our worries.

Another objection might be centered around technology from a different perspective: How would we allow these thousands of folks to participate at General Assembly? Technology for offsite participation in our governance is not quite there yet, that is true. But it will be soon – sooner, probably, than we could put this system in place and implement it. And of course, the structure of General Assembly would have to change. Instead of mini-assemblies on-site, for instance, such conversations should be taking place online in the weeks and months leading up to GA, possibly using the same teleconferencing software with which so many of us are rapidly becoming familiar. Possibly even using something akin to the flipped classroom model.

I continue to get more and more excited about this possibility and would love to talk to more of you about it. In the coming months, I hope to be engaging in online conversations about these ideas. If you want to participate in such a conversation, let me know! I look forward to some robust and exciting conversations around what future of participation in our faith tradition might look like.