Reading “Church Refugees”

When minister and friend Derek Parker mentioned that he was in a study group, and that they were reading a book about people who were once devoted church members but have left the church without giving up what they believed … well, that piqued my interest. And it’s a sociological study, not just an opinion piece.

I even ordered a copy. And you can also download a sample chapter at the link.

Church Refugees, by Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope. (Group, 2015)

But I read slowly, so you’ll have a change to catch up.

A fee to see the MFC?

So, I’ve heard through the grapevine that ministerial candidates are being charged $250 to see the Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Said grapevine is not happy about that.

I would love some commentary about that, but first I would like confirmation and (better still) a statement of reasoning. Or perhaps this is old news — I met the MFC a very long time ago — but if the story’s making the rounds, then it’s worth discussing it plainly and in the open.

Does anyone know?

An unlikely word about convention economy

The World Congress of Esperanto (Universala Kongreso, or UK) started its meeting this evening in Lille, France.

I’m not there; perhaps next year in Slovakia. But to mark the occasion, I looked up the official World Esperanto Association (Universala Esperanto-Asocio, or UEA) and found this page, incongruously written in English, and thus the title of this blog post. It’s meant to explain the UK to “partners” presumably to include local government and tourism authorities, who are more likely to read English than Esperanto.

Now, I’ve found Esperantists to be thrifty in their arrangements, and this passage sums up the reasoning in a dignifed way:

As a non-profit NGO, UEA is a very budget-conscious organization and so is the Congress of the Association. This congress has many special charms, but sober treatment of the financial matter is required. The delegates pay expenses from their own funds and usually are price conscious. Many of the delegates come from developing countries, and there are significant proportions of retired people and students among the participants. This is a people’s congress for ordinary people, not an elaborate meeting of executives financed by corporate funds.

I think you could say much the same about General Assemblies. Ours, and from the #CampbellCon plaints, others, too. Just because you’re clergy doesn’t mean that our basic meetings are affordable, or paid from expense accounts.

In case you wonder about the costs of going to the UK, see this registration cost page. Early registration for a typical member from a rich country is 180 euros; a member with a disability from a poor country would pay 60 euros; and a person under 21 would pay nothing. For some hotel options, see the Dua Bulteno (Second Bulletin; the First is the invitation with registration info) with lodging info, from page 9, including student accomodation, much like the Unitarian Universalist use of college dorms. Or here. I also like the meal ticket (see page 12), for example six dinners — two courses, cheese, dessert and tap water for 54 euros, but this may be an opportunity of meeting in a French college town. (Another Esperantist custom — the amasloĝejo; “mass-dwelling” — is often only BYO sleeping bag crash space; a hard sell for most people. But the Lille local committee did try to find a place, without success. I did have an attendee crash on my apartment floor the one year I lived in a GA town.)

You may also note excursions (from page 13) and a banquet that show that some Esperantists have the means and will to spend more.

And you may also note that the flight from North America would double all of these costs. But there’s something to learn here if we try.

Resources from the Management Center

I was talking to a friend tonight about management — church management in particular — and once again turned back to a favorite resource, the Management Center.

I can recommend their courses, but if you live too far from where they offer them (or it filled up) then be sure to get the companion book,

Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results, a snip at less than $20. And their on-line resources have a lot to teach.

Just a brief post to point out a great help

Notes, from the Disciples GA for ours next year

This is less blog post and more notepad, to record on-the-ground observations from attendees of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) General Assembly. They’re meeting in Columbus, Ohio now, and the Unitarian Universalist Association will meet there next June.

  1. Convention Center seating leaves something to be desired.
  2. In the spirit of ecumenism, I suspect the same will be true of Unitarian Universalists.

  3. And the AC is too cold
  4. Yes, there are watering holes. Some less obvious.
  5. Taking names:

  6. And places to eat.
  7. (@BluetoothTodd is a parody account, so some cheese humor may be in play.)

    • Double Comfort

Following the Disciples General Assembly

As some of you know, I trained for the ministry and received the degree of Master of Divinity at Brite Divinity School, a theological seminary of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) General Assembly began today in Columbus, Ohio under the theme “Soar!” I noticed a bunch of my classmates flying cross country, and then I noticed they were going to the city the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly will be next year: Columbus, Ohio.

And so the Twitter hashtag for the CC(DOC) GA is #DisciplesSoar.

Alexander_Campbell_1788But what keeps my attention is a playful and cheerful parallel hashtag. If #DisciplesSoar is for the serious business, the #CampbellCon is for the fun stuff, for the relationship building and a knowing recognition that our awkward, wonky church conventions bear more that a passing resemblance to comics and sci-fi fandom.  (The hashtag is a reference to Alexander Campbell, a wild-haired founder. It would be as if we had a hashtag #BallouBoatHome. But I’m sure we could do better that that.)

I mean, I wish we could be so playful. There are a few of us, but we’re on the magins.  If we Unitarian Universalists, who suffer from debilitating earnestness, could put up with Twitter accounts like

We have @UUHulk, but rely rather too much on it. (Him?)

So put a pin in it: we could have more fun at General Assembly. It might even make the hard parts more bearable.

And best wishes to the Disciples in convention.

Bad church member, or expectations considered

So, it’s the eleven o’clock hour, and I’m at home. Late rising, some work around the house and — dang! after ten o’clock and unshowered, so I decided to stay home from church. And I wanted to go and intended to go. I feel bad because, for a number of reasons including travel, I’ve not been able to attend worship for the last few weeks. But I also don’t want to rush, and I have more work around the house I’d have to put off until two o’clock or so.

Not Attending Worship is high on the classic Bad Church Member list, so perhaps that’s what I’m feeling. But rather than ignoring the feeling, I’d rather own up to the feeling as a (probably) misplaced expectation.

Church life requires a measure of discipine, but using old rules and expectations will stifle those who haven’t committed to the discipline of “just knowing how to behave” in church, including attending, volunteering, giving and all the rest.

I’m thinking through “what is” and “what must be.” And how I’ll make it to church next Sunday.

My two sources for weather information

I rely on two indicators for weather: my sinuses and Forecast.io.

When I’m already congested, a strong weather front will give me a blinding headache. (Like today.) But that’s not helpful for you, or Daisy, our bichon frise, who hates having a potty walk in the rain.

I recommend Forecast.io for amazingly accurate hyper-local, minute-by-minute weather forecasts, which sometimes (alas, not quite, today) gives the dog enough time outside to do what she must.