New congregations to be considered at March UUA Board meeting

The Unitarian Universalist Association Board meets, starting this Thursday (tomorrow).  Two congregations have applied for membership.

This is better news than the January Board meeting. But I can’t help that observe that these candidate members:

  1. It takes about three years to go from launch (not inception) to membership.
  2. That new members are rarely much larger that the thirty-member minimum.
  3. Both of the candidates are named “fellowship,” a term that for many years out of favor.

Also, the emerging Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ashtabula County, (archived site) Ashtabula, Ohio, is no more.

What I’m reading: March 1, 2015

I’ve not been blogging much lately, and I don’t have much zeal to do so. I’m a little sad that Leonard Nimoy died, but mixed with that hope that I too might live long and prosper. I could walk though the pros and cons of, but I don’t know what that would prove, other than it’s not fully rolled out. I could be angry about the destruction of genuine and reproduction antiquities in Mosul, but that’s a feeling shared by most sensible people. I’m just not keen to state the generally obvious.

So, I’ll lean on some interesting things I’ve read lately. I use Newsblur to manage my feeds. I subcribe to dozens of feeds, and subscribe to Religion and Ethics Newsweekly and Pew Research Center Religion & Public Life “Religion in the News” for general religion news.

But I’m interested in other matters,and have been reading about other things. Such as applying the most appropriate level of technology to a given situation. Whether that’s delivering natural gas, improving prosthetic knees or re-capturing ancient lessons about heating homes (and churches).

I’ve also read this challenge to white homogeneity among Anabaptists and also  this informative graphic about what image file standard to use and when. (And you don’t need to use Photoshop.)

British Unitarian numbers update

British Unitarian minister and blogger Stephen Lingwood gives us his annual update of membership numbers in the Unitarian and Free Christian Churches in England, Wales and Scotland. (Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have a different history and related, but distinct, denomination.)

The news is not good; a sharp decrease. Reminds me of the opening sequence of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series, which gives the census of surviving human beings. The British Unitarians and Free Christians now number 3,179.  When I was a youngster, it was about 15,000.

He refers to an annual report. We don’t get them on this side of the Atlantic, but you can download one. (PDF)



Long live

Well, I can’t seem to reclaim the domain, despite my repeated appeals to the registrar. (I don’t have access to either email address with which I registered it aeons ago.)

But I own, so after some tinkering I’ve moved the site dedicated to the “Christian hope in the final restoration of all souls, and those who believe it” there. It’s largely historical and liturgical material.

But this episode has shown me the limits of WordPress for what should be a simple site, so I plan on converting it (with all the text) to a simpler, easier-to-maintain and (I hope) faster loading platform like Pelican. And now that I have a functioning site, I can try.


Prayer for the Coptic martrys

I’ve not blogged much this week — lots going on at work — but one news story keeps rolling in my mind: the beheading of twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians fishermen by ISIL militants in Libya. They were targeted because they were Christian, in the context of wider persecution of Copts. That puts them among the Christian martyrs, and so, as a Christian, makes them a special focus for prayer and concern. But what prayers shall we say over the bloody water, or with those who wail in grief? Sometimes borrowed words say what the soul means.

If you have a copy of Hymns of the Spirit, join me in praying the commemorations in the shorter communion service, page 151. It is described as “composite, based on Greek Liturgy.” But it seems dependent on Frederic Henry Hedge’s liturgy, which was used by Unitarians, Universalists and others, and that was particularly drawn from the Liturgy of St. James, one of the ancient liturgies of the church. But that is clearly tied to the sacrament in a way the composite prayer isn’t. (If you don’t have a Hymns of the Spirit, much of the same text can be found here, starting “we remember the fathers….”)

It seems fitting to use an old prayer that our forebears prayed and that has echoes with prayer the Copts may still use, to remember those poor slain men and to build bonds of spiritual communion and solidarity.




Ash Wednesday resources

I was talking to a friend about Ash Wednesday services. They’re not my favorite — the ashes can be ostentatious, and it reflects a particular Western Christian piety that I don’t care for — but the service has become more widely observed in the last couple of generations, so I’d like to revisit three blog posts that might help those who conduct it.

Things to try out

Now, with the preaching done for the day, I’m trying out three technology fixes:

  • to find the best (that is, most appropriate and quickest to learn) tool for modifying images for a website, social media and the like.
  • to see which of the static web development tool would work best for something like a church website, particularly reviewing Jekyll, Middleman and Pelican. Even better if I can use the super-cheap Amazon S3 service with it.
  • to try out the lightweight Midori browser, so we’ll see how that goes.

You might note a theme of lightening up.

The only thing people are going to talk about today

The only thing people are going to talk about today in Unitarian Universalist-land is the announcement yesterday from Starr King School for the Ministry that their Ad-Hoc Committee had reported out about the crises associated with their presidential search process last year.

There’s just so much in the letter and the three documents you can download at the end that I scarcely know where to start. The professions of sadness are certainly thorough.

Well, start by reading. The comments are open.

“Closing a Sad Chapter” (SKSM)

Preserving Unitarian Universalism

So, I’m waiting for Lucky Dog to come on this morning, with CBS This Morning (which comes on just before) on in the background so I don’t miss it. There was a segment about digitizing The Spirit of St. Louis and other Smithsonian-held artifacts through 3-D scanning. Even President Obama got the treatment, like President Lincoln (who had to suffer plaster) before him.

I thought it might be bitterly funny to put Unitarian Universalism under the lights and cameras to preserve it digitally against loss, so that, one day the files might be pumped into a 3-D printer and the whole thing could be recreated. Well, perhaps only as a plastic model. A scan will preserve the shape and appearance, but not its workings and certainly not its life.

We attempt to preserve though recording that which is valuable and may or shall be lost. A shadow is better than nothing. I started putting Universalist Christian documents online, now almost two decades ago, because I feared the tradition would be lost before even the basics could be laid down. The documents are easier to get now, but the traditions still seems highly endangered and unvalued.

And in my almost thirty year association with Unitarian Universalism, I’ve noticed that what happens to one subset will apply to others in turn. Ask any classic Humanist if that tradition is well-respected and thriving. Throwing up your hands and saying “change happens” only says to me that you’ve not felt the bite yet. And there’s no guarantee that the whole fellowship of Unitarian Universalists worth wither away in a generation or two. We can take pictures, or find another way to preserve Unitarian Universalism.