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Whose Are We?

"Whose Are We? - A Theological Conversation" is a UUMA-Wide Conversation that ran from 2011-2013. The program provided UUMA members a chance to reflect and wrestle with the theological, vocational, collegial and personal implications of this and other related questions.

The UUMA Executive Committee has created a vision statement for chapter health by 2014 that states, in part, "We gather in a covenant shaped by a culture of vulnerability, intimacy, trust and accountability to one another in which leadership and learning are embraced." The Whose Are We program was designed give us a chance to speak intimately and deeply about that which we are called to serve and what nurtures our ministries.

"Whose Are We": Spiritual Discernment and Theological Reflection

In her sermon during the June 2008 Service of the Living Tradition, Victoria Safford quoted the Quaker teacher Douglas Steere:

Douglas Steere, a Quaker teacher, says that the ancient question, "What am I?" inevitably leads to a deeper one, "Whose am I?" – because there is no identity outside of relationships. You can't be a person by yourself. To ask "Whose Am I?" is to extend the questions far beyond the little self-absorbed self, and wonder: Who needs you? Who loves you? To whom are you accountable? To whom do you answer? Whose life is altered by your choices? With whose life, whose lives, is your own all bound up, inextricably, in obvious or invisible ways?

Similarly, as a collective body, we Unitarian Universalists have expended a great deal of energy talking about the enduring core of our identity. "Who are we?" "Who are we really?" And this has led to the deeper conversation "Whose Are We?" which points to the idea that we are a part of something larger, which both includes and transcends us.

Some of the major discussion points we hope to spark are:

  • Why don't we share our own spiritual journeys more with one another as colleagues? Could we allow ourselves and others to be more vulnerable and talk about our experiences of the holy/our sense of God, or our sense of belonging to something beyond the "self-absorbed self?"

  • How do you answer the question "Whose Are We" theologically? Relationally?

  • How do you integrate your theology into your practice of ministry? What obstacles have you encountered?

  • What spiritual disciplines do you practice in order to stay grounded in your knowledge of whose you are? What are you wrestling with in your spiritual life?

Outcomes of this UUMA-Wide Conversation

"Whose Are We?" resulted in deep theological conversations between colleagues, and a yearning to continue this work both in the UUMA, and throughout Unitarian Universalism.

These conversations among ministers also resulted in dozens of sermons and essays exploring spiritual discernment. The UUMA has partnered with Skinner House to publish some of these essays in a book called "Not For Ourselves Alone." Filled with essays and accompanying discussion questions for use in congregational and community ministries, "Not For Ourselves Alone," will be available at General Assembly in Providence in June, 2014, and from Skinner House Books.

Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210-1409
© 2016 Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.