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    A Congregational Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, April 27 to approve a new set of Bylaws for our church and to elect a new Board of Trustees. Significant change in governance is coming to our church, a change recommended by our leadership and by those who work in larger congregational settings. Essentially, our day-to-day operation of the church will be entrusted to our ministry staff (and others not yet hired or brought into our various teams) for carrying out the ministries and administration of our church, while our policy governing Board will set policies, goals, and direction.  The congregational meeting on 4/27 makes the transitions official.

    Had I known in advance of the qualityof the closing ceremonies of the Sochi Winter Games 2/23/14, I would have alerted the entire congregation and asked you and all children and youth not to miss it.  Superpower and Vladimir Putin politics aside, the craft of the ceremonies was splendid visual, aural, and emotional stagecraft.  When the fifth representational Olympic ring-cluster did not open –a salute a mechanical failure at the opening ceremony—we viewers knew we were in on a joke. The 5th ring did indeed open; an achievement in humor that was to accompany images of Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, the music of Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, the dancers of Bolshoi and Mariinsky, the 1000-member choirs, the lights, the clowns, the bear, the hare, the leopard, Marc Chagall's upside-down house, and the exquisite chandelier. You may need to go to the web to see for yourself.

    I think about our cultural filters, our abiding prejudices against an old, cold-war foe, but the Russian culture represented and displayed on my TV monitor brought to mind how much Russia has influenced the world and me (Tolstoy, for example). I am convinced we do not need a new hero or savior. Leaders within their various and diverse cultures have available to them the resources to do right by their people.  Athletes are motivated to win medals of achievement for their countries and for themselves. Unfortunately, several leaders (of Syria and Ukraine, for ex.) have squandered the trust of their people. The humanist and the optimist in me, however, believes that the best of culture is redemptive and is not forever lost even in times of treachery and injustice.

  A Sense of Humorsaves the day when nothing else seems to make sense.  I debated a local pastor on WRKF last month on the subject of religious freedom.  (Interview can be heard on our church website.  Go to  "About" and "Audio.") Though he might not have remembered it, the pastor actually sent several of his parishioners years ago to picket our church. I had a good time in the interview, taking comfort in quoting Thomas Jefferson:  "It does me no injury if my neighbor says there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."  I quoted George Washington from the Treaty of Tripoli, later ratified by (Unitarian) President John Adams: "The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion."  What is it founded on?  Religious FreedomI never got an opportunity during the broadcast to quote the First Amendment of our Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof . . . ." My on-air opponent and I agreed on nothing . . . except my suggestion that we should love our neighbor.  Sometimes I smile. Sometimes I laugh.