I relearned an important lesson recently: Process is everything. There are some things that must endure a process and cannot be rushed. The most obvious example was announcing to the congregation, without consulting any of the stakeholders, that there would be no more Time for All Ages and that children would not be in worship. The idea had been one of many proposed as a way to accommodate growth. But rather than running it by the REALL Committee or the Worship Team, and families, it was presented as a fait accompli.
It was also announced that we were going to two services in September. We kind of skipped over a key recommendation from a document the UUA created for congregations considering this change: take a year to consider what this might mean and look like, and solicit input from as many folks as possible.
Sometimes a sense of urgency unintentionally overrides process. I participated in all the meetings where all of these decisions were considered and made. And I can assure you that the very best interests of the congregation were at the forefront of those decisions. Yet we have had to slow down and circle round and revisit both of these issues. As Gary Tomlinson wrote in his article for this newsletter, there is a Two Services Team consisting of stakeholders in this process. They are a recommending team, not a decision-making team.
Many of you have strong feelings about children no longer being in our worship services. What started out merely as a way to address growth has now become a values issue: Are we welcoming to all as a community? When the church is one of the last places in our culture that is intergenerational, what does it mean to separate out not just adult and children’s worship but adult and children’s religious education?
What is the purpose of worship? How do we include our children in worship without putting them on display? How does the presence of children in worship affect the content of worship? What do want worship at WUUC to look like? These are questions that the Worship Team and REALL and a DLL will need to delve into. Congregational feedback will need to be given.
As I said to you from the pulpit, we are simply out of room at WUUC. Our growth is being constrained by a lack of space in our sanctuary, overcrowding in our RE spaces and not enough space to accommodate all ages, and a shortage of parking places. Inevitably there will be missteps as we make our way through trial and error to address these issues. But the message that process rather than a particular decision or outcome needs to take priority has been heard.
Peace, Shalom, Salaam,