When I entered the UUA’s ministerial search process in January of this year, I was given access to the congregational surveys of many different churches that were in search. One question common to many of these surveys had to do with the sermon topics that the congregants found particularly interesting or stimulating. I found a pattern that was seemingly universal. When listing interesting sermon topics, consistently bringing up the rear, consistently showing up on the bottom of the list was the topic of Unitarian Universalist history. Apparently UUs haven’t been inspired by their high school history teachers! Often just bringing up the topic of history reminds one of duller than dirt narratives about seemingly irrelevant topics. (Yes, I experienced some of this too!)
As I moved through life beyond high school however, I grew an appreciation for history. In my early 20s, I lived with my sister in Colorado for a short while and came across “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown. I then turned to biographies about Crazy Horse and Custer. I then read “The Autobiography of Malcom X” and came away with a profound appreciation and respect for one who spoke so lovingly and grateful about his mentor Elijah Muhammad even after they had bitterly parted ways. As a music buff of sorts, “The Autobiography of Miles Davis” turned out to be one of my favorite books ever as he consistently pulled no punches, spoke without a filter when describing his fellow jazz contemporaries (i.e. “I hated that #*&(#$#*, and I still hate him; but I had to have him in my band!”).
These books and many others brought history to life for me.
And for this reason, I have looked forward with great anticipation for the month of November because our monthly theme will be “Story.” In November, the worship team and MCY will be up for the challenge of bringing contemporary and 19th century history to life on Sunday mornings at UUMAN.
One of my favorite books in all of seminary, and one of the favorites of all seminarians at Meadville-Lombard was “Prophetic Sisterhood: Liberal Women Minister of the Frontier.” This mostly forgotten Unitarian (& Universalist) history details the accomplishments and travails of some amazingly courageous women who were starting churches on the frontier (i.e. where no male minister would ever dare to go) in the late 1800s. We will introduce you to their amazing story on November 13.
On November 27, we will discuss the radical abolitionist heretic minister Theodore Parker. Many UUs know about Parker and have heard anecdotal stories about him but most people don’t know just how influential HE STILL IS in our lives today. His ideas and words live on but the irony is that few people know that he is the source of these ideas and words.
On November 6 and 20 we will be talking about contemporary history. On Nov 6 we will be discussing the UUA Common Read, Rev. Dr. William Barber’s “The Third Reconstruction.” On November 20, our Faith In Action Service will focus on UUSC stories of defying hate.
We are most excited to bring these histories to life for you at UUMAN in November. You won’t want to miss it!
Take care and be well,