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Whose Are We? Chapter Awards
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"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?

It seems that there is deep hunger among us for this kind of interchange. Some chapters have already formed small spiritual discernment groups – we’d like to share these models. Some have already held retreats on theology or spiritual practice. Now we would like to see what transformative potential there is, both personally and for Unitarian Universalism, when we take this on as a whole ministry. May our bonds be strengthened in service of the whole.

Attend your UUMA chapter’s "Whose Are We?” conversation, tell your congregation and your colleagues about it and help your chapter win $3,000!

What? UUMA chapters will begin engaging in the "Whose Are We? - A Theological Conversation” program this coming fall. This program will provide 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, with thanks to the Panel on Theological Education and the UU Funding Panel, is awarding $3,000 each to the three UUMA chapters who participate most fully in this conversation. These awards may be used for future spiritual/theological programming or retreats so that the conversations and connections can continue.

Why? 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 will give us a chance to speak intimately and deeply about that which we are called to serve and what nurtures our ministries. The chapter awards will give us the chance to learn more from each other and provide more opportunities for us to share with the larger Unitarian Universalist movement.

How? Participation will be determined by the number of chapter members who attend the Whose Are We conversations and who then preach or write an essay on their experience and share it with their UUMA colleagues.

When? Your chapter leaders and Whose Are We? chapter facilitators will be scheduling the conversations soon. Sermons and essays will be collected from April 1, 2011 through October 31, 2011. Awards will be announced by December 31, 2011.

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