November 2017

As I write this I’m reveling in the great weekend we just experienced at GNUUC: Friday and Saturday, after weeks of planning and advertising and coordinating by Mike Morgan, Sandy Blanz, and their dedicated team of helpers, our annual indoor yard sale was a wonderful success! On Saturday Jim and I joined Doug Luckes and Nancy Colowick in Murfreesboro to stand against the hateful rhetoric of white supremacists.* On Sunday the Board held a special meeting to continue our due diligence on a building use policy as we further explore sharing our space with the Sudbury school; in religious education the children and youth created a beautiful banner reading, “Love – Sanctuary – Justice” (our GNUUC mission statement in 3 words); we shared a 5th Sunday potluck lunch; and then 15 of us made our way to the Temple Church and stood for the roll call during the NOAH (Nashville Organized for Action and Hope) annual meeting with Mayor Meghan Barry.

As a GNUUCer wrote in a Facebook post responding to some church activity pictures I posted over the weekend, “Showing up matters.” You can’t imagine how happy it made me to read this (as I’ve often said from the GNUUC pulpit, paraphrasing Charles Bell, we can pretend to care, we can’t pretend to show up).

So, in this season of Thanksgiving and abundance (incidentally, abundance is our “Soul Matters” theme for November), I want to say thank you for showing up in these many ways:

Thank you to those who slog away through the tedium of process and policy to help us craft a nimble, meaningful and healthy governance structure that really supports growth and vision for our congregation.

Thank you to those who do the 1000s of little things that help the big things happen here – especially when you do them with good cheer and respect, even when the going gets tough.

Thank you for the tender ways you care for one another, and help one another.

Thank you for telling others about this faith community, and what we offer (and if you haven’t personally invited people to come with you here, I hope you’ll think we’re worth the risk – and that they are, too – and will do that soon).

Thank you to those who are supporting the parents, teachers, children and youth in our RE programs -- RE is not “separate” from GNUUC, they’re all a part of us, and I really appreciate all who are stretching to help narrow that gap between the buildings and the programs. Your time and attention is such a gift to our parents, our teachers, our children, our youth, our congregation, and our denomination.

Thank you to those who show up on Sundays no matter the worship topic, because you know it’s important to show up for your community, and you understand that thoughtful Sunday mornings are the consistent way we get to connect more deeply with one another as a whole Congregation (the commitment vs. consumer model!).

Thank you to those who are faithful pledgers, supporting GNUUC with your treasure, your many talents, your time, and your ideas (“What if we ___ ?!” is always one of the best things I hear you say). Thank you for being so generous with all of your gifts!

Thank you to those who are bravely leaning into the changes that come with growth.

Thank you to those who are courageously living into our covenant, taking it seriously, embracing the ways it makes us stronger and more attractive as a congregation.

I am grateful for all of our shared ministries, and for you. Have a wonderful holiday season.


Rev. Carmen Emerson

*I can’t let this teaching moment pass: I use this word intentionally, because the hate groups who showed up in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro are described that way by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and because they proudly claim that label. When I speak about white supremacy that’s the image we react to, and resist, and deny. None of us want to be that, and I don’t think we are, and I have been careful not to call us white supremacists. BUT we take so much for granted because of systemic white supremacy. To help dismantle that oppressive system of injustice we’ve got to name it, understand our part in it, and lean into our discomfort about it…that’s important moral, ethical, and theological work we are doing together, and with our denomination. So thank you, also, for leaning in.