|Sunday afternoon, I found myself standing at the front of the sanctuary, overwhelmed by the swelling ovation that was the outpouring of emotion from the Newman community as they gathered in our space. They were overtly gracious for the warm welcome First UUers extended. (My thanks to you all.)
Newman members filled the sanctuary, each person with a story, each filled with pain, each filled with the need to be together. They showed up on time, greeted, and hugged each other. They shared a common anger at being kicked out of their long-time premises by the new Bishop. They shared shock at the removal of “All are welcome” from the Newman building along with the dove of peace, after the Newmans vacated. They shared in disbelief – not of their faith, but of leaders who seemed to oust values of inclusion, diversity, and compassion.
As mentioned in last week’s Rev. Talk, the Newman community was meeting at First UU to get a sense of what their next steps might be. In addition, they began the journey of healing their communal grief. First UU will serve as host for the Newman community’s next discernment meeting in late September.
After the greeting, I didn’t stay for their meeting, although I was in my office in case they needed anything. That gave me time to reflect on the power of community that I had just witnessed. Even more than answers, the Newman community needed to be together. They needed to see each other’s face, feel the emotions, and shed tears. The trauma was real in body, mind, and soul. Each person had a choice as to whether to show up or not. I’m sure a few stayed home or went off to other parishes, albeit more conservative. But the vast majority of the Newman community is dedicated to a shared sense of who they are and how they are called to be in this world. It was powerful. And I was moved.
I know First UUers have a strong sense of community as well. Coming out of pandemic, I often see people great each other as if they had been separated forever – which of course we had. I see small groups sharing together, and committees and teams meeting again. Even families and children are returning, hoping to recreate the magic that is UU. I’m looking forward to helping us to strengthen our sense of shared values and then, put them to work in our lives and in building a better world.
Our shared values that shone on Sunday were compassion and welcome. We saw a community in grief and we welcomed them in. Isn’t that who we are?
And I thank each of you for being you. Together, we are community.
🙂 Rev. Marian