February 2018

Small churches, such as ours, sometimes forget that we are part of an old, evolving and larger religious tradition. We are! Our congregational polity makes it confusing to think of having “headquarters” – although we do! – the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), a voluntary association of 1038 UU congregations in Boston, Massachusetts (and not to be confused with a hierarchy). Did you know that the UUA has relationships with two publishing houses – Beacon Press (begun by the American Unitarian Association in 1854), now a department of the UUA; and Skinner House Books (founded in 1976 and formerly a part of Beacon), an imprint of the UUA. The UUA bookstore carries titles published by both, www.uuabookstore.org.

Recent events prompt me to share two important moments in our evolution as a religious tradition practicing democracy within our congregations, and defending democracy in our nation:

First, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s beautiful and powerful sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct,” turned 50 on February 4, 2018. Many of us swallowed hard in disbelief to witness it used to sell Dodge Ram trucks during the Super Bowl (and just in case you’ve heard incorrectly, the licensing agent, not the King family, gave permission for Dodge to use the sermon). As an act of inspiration and defiance for times such as these, I urge you to read “The Drum Major Instinct” – found here: http://www.beaconbroadside.com/broadside/2018/02/martin-luther-king-jrs-the-drum-major-instinct-sermon-turns-50.html and to spend some thoughtful time considering Dr. King’s message of the connections between commitment, service, love and justice: “I just wanted to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say.” Being a congregation calls us to more than intellectual reflections – as great as those are. It calls us to something deeper, it calls us to be of service to something larger than ourselves. And that’s way different than buying a fancy truck.

The other current event is Steven Spielberg’s movie “The Post” –I haven’t seen it yet I’m looking forward to doing so. And although I understand that this isn’t mentioned in the movie, our Beacon Press had a major role in this chapter of our nation’s history, choosing to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971. No matter the bullies, the intimidations, the corruption, the threats, we took the risk and spoke truth to power. Read more about it here: http://www.beaconbroadside.com/broadside/2017/03/why-beacon-press-took-the-risk-to-publish-the-pentagon-papers.html.

It’s great to be a part of something bigger. Not only are we small and mighty, we’re also connected. Let our engagement be rooted in our connections, one to another, and to our larger faith.

Rev. Carmen Emerson