Homecoming: No Time for a Casual Faith — UUS:E Virtual Worship, September 13, 2020

Dear Ones: Please watch our September 13th Homecoming Service on the UUS:E YouTube channel.

The text to Rev Josh and Gina Campellone’s dialogue, “No Time for a Casual Faith,” is below:

Josh:  We just watched the Ingathering address from the Rev.  Susan Frederick-Gray, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. It was important to both Gina and me that we hear from our denominational president as we begin the congregational year. We both really like her phrase, “this is no time for a casual faith.”

Gina: For the record, she was saying that before the pandemic, but it feels even more true now that the pandemic is here.

Josh: When you hear the term “casual faith,” what do you imagine she means?

Gina: I suspect people in every religion go through periods where their faith or their spiritual practice or their involvement is more or less casual. There are times when they just feel less connected, or they don’t really apply the teachings of their faith to their living. Maybe they attend services out of habit, but they’re not really engaged. That’s a casual faith.

Josh: I think you’re right. There are probably a lot of people who are involved in religious communities but, for a variety of reasons, may just be going through the motions, may be feeling disconnected, may be focused on other things. ‘Casual’ is a good word for it. Given that, what for you is the opposite of a casual faith?

Gina: I’m mindful that congregations have always provided ways for people to connect to each other; and during these unsettled, unpredictable, upside down times, we need that connection more than ever. So, a connected faith is the opposite of a casual faith.

Josh: I’m mindful that Unitarian Universalists make commitments to each other and to our congregation. We commit to supporting one another. We commit to working for justice in our wider community. We commit to environmental stewardship. We commit to coming together on Sunday mornings for worship. We commit to seeking our truths together. So, a committed faith is the opposite of a casual faith. What else?

Gina: An engaged faith.

Josh: An active faith.

Gina: A guiding faith.

Josh: A life-giving faith.

Gina: How would you say you’re expressing that kind of faith these days Gina?

Josh: In recent weeks I’ve been trying to develop our UUS:E relationship with Power Up—the newly formed Black Lives Matter group in Manchester. They are doing some courageous things in the community, and it seems really important to me that we, collectively as UUS:E, figure out how to follow their leadership as part of our congregational commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement. For me, this is what it means to be a good institutional neighbor, a good institutional partner. This is what it means to be faithful to our principles. What comes to mind for you?

Gina: I’m working really hard to show compassion, both to myself and to others. That’s part of our second UU principle, “justice, equity and compassion in human relations.” Practicing compassion on a regular basis requires a mindfulness that I don’t come by easily. I’m making it a point to reach out to family, friends, loved ones, even folks I don’t necessarily know all that well, just to check in, touch base, and say “I’m thinking of you.” I’m also finding the courage to risk being vulnerable, acknowledging that I sometimes feel sad, or scared, or lonely. Because in doing so, it assures others that they are not the only one struggling, and that they need not struggle alone or in silence.

Josh: I think that’s a great argument for the value of this congregation in our lives. All of us are struggling to some degree with this pandemic and its related challenges and crises. It’s so important to have a place where we can come—even if it’s online—and let down our guard, be vulnerable, be human—sad, scared, lonely, or joyful, hopeful and excited. That, too, is a connected faith.

Gina: And that’s really the promise we want to make to all of you who are part of our UUS:E family. As the pandemic continues, we will do everything in our power to keep all of you connected to each other and to this beloved community.

Josh: Yes – we will do everything in our power to nurture in each of you a connected faith.

Gina: A committed faith.

Josh: An engaged faith.

Gina: An active faith.

Josh: A guiding faith.

Gina: A life-giving faith.

Josh: Friends: Welcome to the new congregational year.

Gina: Welcome home.

Josh: Amen and Blessed Be.