Monthly Archives: October 2011

District Executive Message – October 17, 2011

How can we live in a world partly prosperous and mostly miserable?
– Wm. Sloane Coffin

Most people are not facile when it comes to discussing economics. I am among them. However, most grasp readily the idea of economic justice.

You don’t need a PhD nor espouse socialism to know there is something basically, morally wrong with the increasing concentration of wealth and income to ever fewer people in the last generation. The emerging “Occupy” movement taps into that sense of unfairness, especially that those who were most directly responsible for the Great Recession have prospered by the various bail-outs given (at taxpayer expense!) to Wall Street. Curiously, it is the same resentment felt by supporters of the Tea Party.

Is this a religious issue? Yes, given that one’s religious life attempts to address the large questions of how we are together in the human family. Our faith, Unitarian Universalism, long has been concerned that many suffer miserably while a few prosper. Social justice always gets around to economic justice. How can anyone defend a few having far too much and many having far too little? This is anathema to the social implications of Universalism, where every person matters ultimately. (Quick theologic aside: you can defend the status quo only if you are a Calvinist, believing that your “having” is a sign of your being right with God, being chosen, and those “not having” are deserving of their fate.)

Our UUA has not had an opportunity to discuss how our faith might address the “Occupy” movement. No doubt, it will be among our conversations at “Justice GA” in Phoenix next June. Meanwhile, I call your attention to a recent letter from our UUA President, Peter Morales, (see: http://www.uua.org/news/pressroom/pressreleases/188405.shtml) in which he notes:

“Unitarian Universalism embodies a long tradition of working for economic justice and workers’ rights. Today is another opportunity for us to live our faith, and the Occupy protests are a first step on the road to repairing our country.

“I reach out to Unitarian Universalists everywhere to consider how you might be of service to any among us who are struggling to provide for their families, those who have been cheated and abused by financial institutions, and all those whose backs ache under a burden of debt, unemployment, and fading hope. Let the world see the power of our faith in action.”

To pursue this conversation further in your congregation, take a look at the resources available at uua.org as well as Unitarian Universalists for Economic Justice (http://www.uujec.org/). I welcome hearing from you of the ways your congregation is engaged in economic justice work. Please send me a note; I’ll be glad to share your information with others who may be eager to partner with you.

All Blessings, for you, your congregation, our faith and our communities. Rev. Kenn

Notes from Rev. Kenn – October 8, 2011

At last month’s Leaders Roundtable (for Board members, presentation posted on www.floridadistrict.org), I introduced the idea of creating checklists for better leadership.

I had been impressed by a study at Johns Hopkins Hospitals that led to dramatic decrease in surgical infections after doctors were required to use a 5 point list for one routine, but critical procedure. I wondered, if checklists help pilots or surgeons not inadvertently skip a step and help ensure safety, might they also help congregational leaders to do likewise?

For instance, consider preparing a meeting agenda. If you had a list of “things not to be forgotten” and you checked off each one, might you not be better prepared for your next meeting? Or, if, as part of their training discipline, worship associates were given a list of what and when various aspects of the order of service had to be in place, might there be fewer instances of lay leaders (clergy, too!) forgetting to light the chalice or call for the offering? And so on.

I imagine you could think of steps your hospitality team might prepare to ensure your visiting guests feel welcome and that would make the unpracticed greeter feel more secure when it’s her/his turn. The idea could be applied to prosaic things like monthly building maintenance or morally important issues like a applying a child safety policy.

The point is that the simple idea of a checklist can make congregational life easier all around and lead to doing things right more often. If you’d like to learn more about this notion, get a hold of Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. It’s an enjoyable and easy read, well worth your time.

And, if you have suggestions for such a list (keep it short, 5-7 seems to be magical number), please send them to me. This might make an interesting shared project for the year.

All blessings, Rev. Kenn

UUA Florida District

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