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Sanctuary Renovation  ~ We have over $10,000 in contributions and committed pledges towards the $30,000 match for completing the Sanctuary Renovation project.  That means we're one-third closer to our goal. Once we raise the additional 20K we get the match of 30K, totaling $60,000 for the project.  I'd like very much to finish the sanctuary this year, with the congregation. At the moment, we are in contract review and identifying a general contractor.  Can we raise the additional $20,000 by Father's Day?
 
Blast from the Past 1993 ~ When we celebrated my 10th anniversary as a settled minister here in Baton Rouge, I shared these personal reflections with the congregation in January of '93:  
" . . . I [once gave a sermon] on the idea of needs. 'But the church is supposed to meet my needs,' as the common sentiment is expressed in our consumerist culture.  There is nothing wrong in speaking up about what one needs, but I submit that the church and its ministry is not doing its job if it does not announce in the very beginning of any discussion of needs that we all live in a state of neediness. Throughout our lives we are needy. The church and its ministry must understand this salient feature of human creatureliness.  The state of neediness is our existential state . . . This congregation has taught me that if we are mindful of our vision, covenant, and mission, together we will not lose our way in distractions . . . We have [been] reaching out intentionally to the un-churched in our community [and] managed to gather a church where no one person knows everyone.  I addressed that topic a couple of years ago in asking, 'Are we family?' My answer was a qualified 'No.' We are not a family in the sense that family members know each and every member . . . I suggest that our church is a village in which we are gathered, in which we know lots of names and faces but certainly not all. The idea of a village offers interesting possibilities of strength as well as problems relating to diversity.  I believe our congregation left the family stage of congregational life some time ago."
In that sermon of January 1993, I reflected that I was hopefully becoming less conflict avoidant and, by extension, hoping that the congregation was less conflict avoidant also.  Conflict in a family can undermine a family unit. But conflict in the village with multiple tensions are characteristic, even attributes, of a thriving village in which multiple conflicts are more easily held than the risk-adverse or the conflict-avoidant single family unit.  As a result of living most of my life in southern Louisiana, I have come to understand that the image of America as melting pot is all wrong.  We are a gumbo, where each constituent part is identified, visibly recognized, and valued in its particularity. A gumbo is tasty and delicious because its necessary, identifiable, and diverse parts comprise a grand project, something on the order of a rich multi-culturalism which we call democracy.
 
Blast from the Past 1992 ~ In 1992, the UUA and the UU Ministers Association asked 20 ministers to train under the direction of Marie Fortune, founder of The Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence, located in Seattle.  I was one of two ministers selected in our district (along with the late Suzanne Meyer of New Orleans) to bring the training to all UUMA chapters on the continent.  This work by the 20 of us (10 women, 10 men) was consciousness-raising and boundary-setting work for UU clergy, brought about by the reality of prevalent clergy sexual abuse in our nation, including in our own ranks.
I regard the training as pivotal in ministerial formation and a watershed moment in our ministry. The training called attention to professional guidelines and best practice and was especially critical for seminarians and new ministers entering our ministry.