Minister’s Column June 2023

Dear Ones:

Our ministry theme for June is delight. Confession: this theme is not meeting me where I am right now. Of course, I encourage each of you to ask yourself “What brings delight to your life?” And, of course, I encourage each of you to weave whatever it is into your living. Delight is a wonderful theme for summer, which for so many of us is a time when more opportunities for rest and relaxation enter our lives. Within those opportunities, can we make space for the things, people, places, activities that truly delight us?

There are a number of reasons delight isn’t meeting me where I am right now. First, as most of you will have heard by the time you read this, our beloved and amazingly talented Director of Children and Youth Ministry, Gina Campellone, has announced she is stepping down as of July 1. I know Gina has not made this decision lightly, and that it has in fact been very painful for her. But I also know it is the right decision for her at this time in her life, and I fully support her. I am not delighted. I am feeling very sad about this loss to our community. I know we will move forward with grace and thoughtfulness, not to mention high energy. But for now, I am sad.

Second, I am preparing for the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Pittsburgh, where delegates (including four from UUSE) will vote on proposed changes to Article 2 of the UUA bylaws. Without a doubt, the proposed changes are proving to be controversial, both at UUSE and in UU congregations across the nation. The proposal is controversial for a number of reasons. Some of the controversy relates to the actual proposed language. Some of the controversy relates to concerns about the UUA’s democratic processes. Some of it relates to what some feel is too strong a focus on antiracism work. As one who is conflict-avoidant by nature, I don’t take any delight in the controversies swirling around Article 2. I will say that in general I support the proposal to change Article 2 (we are actually supposed to change it periodically), though I am not in favor of all the changes. In general, I support the UUA’s focus on antiracism work, precisely because Unitarian Universalism still hasn’t sufficiently moved beyond its historically white institutional identity. Given that our nation is rapidly changing in terms of racial demographics, this work seems as critical as ever.

Please know I am trying to keep an open mind about the proposed changes. I am trying to keep an open mind about the UUA’s democratic processes. With limited time in my schedule, I am trying to learn as much as I can. As I write this column, I am preparing for a three-day retreat with UU clergy from around New England. We will be discussing Article 2 in depth for three days! I am very excited to learn what my colleagues have to say. And then I will be travelling to Pittsburgh for GA, where I will pay very close attention to the debate over Article 2. It is quite possible that the General Assembly will vote in favor of a new Article 2, though I fully expect it will not be the proposal that the Article 2 Commission presented to the UUA Board this past January. It will be highly amended. And it is also possible that the General Assembly will vote against adopting a new Article 2. I don’t expect that, but it certainly is possible.

I am anticipating a lot of personal learning over the next month—learning about where Unitarian Universalism is as a faith; learning about who Unitarian Universalists are today; learning about the depth of my own faith. I am planning to preach on my experience on July 23.  None of this delights me. But that’s OK. I am engaged.

With love and care,Rev. Joshua Pawelek

Rev. Josh