I am one of those who has been to every Institute. There are probably a couple hundred of us. It's a great format for getting together as colleagues in Unitarian Universalist ministry. There is enough time to relax into having a more leisurely conversation with an old friend. There are enough of us there to have a chance to meet people you've never met before. It's always well-planned. The worship is inspiring and the seminar leaders have been exciting.
For the first two years, I stuck to the History track in the workshops. At Asilomar 1, I chose to learn from Mark Morrison Reed. I had read his books, but had never spent any time in his presence. The group was not large, so we had time and space to process together some of the tragic mistakes of our collective history. When we are together as minister colleagues, and away from our constituents or congregants, we can more directly confront difficult subjects.
At St. Pete's Beach, I went with Dan McKanan's workshop on the relationships between Unitarianism and Universalism and some of the radical movements in US History. I learned some things in that workshop that inform my thinking today, as a new wave of radicalism appears to be gathering.
This year, I am turning in another direction; taking the two mini-seminars with Cat Cox and Karen Herring. A change of pace for me, and turning toward my own spiritual practices and development.
But the biggest change this year is that I will be wearing a fashionable and distinctive hat. As a CENTER Member, I have been involved in planning the Institute. And like all CENTER Members, I am given the opportunity wear a distinctive hat so you can find us if you have questions or concerns. Apparently, it's an article of faith among the CENTER Committee that unusual hats are a key element in organizational effectiveness.
Now I see that the Institute comes together through complex and detailed planning. But because I am so grateful for previous Institutes, I am more than happy to help make this come to fruition this year.
See you in Asilomar; I'll be wearing a hat.