A Rev. Bill Commentary: Spring Ruminations

A hearty thank you!   I was so gratified to see how well supported our Interfaith Alliance, Earth Day, work party at the IOOF cemetery was.  According to my count approximately 80 volunteers from at least 7 different congregations, or unaffiliated, worked like beavers, accomplished 90% of the cemetery board’s “to-do” list, then enjoyed lunch and camaraderie in the gymnasium of the L.D.S. church next door.  I saw 17 KVUUCers pitching in and the salads we supplied were magnificent.  Thanks so much to Vivian for organizing the salad brigade.  I started new friendships with 3 three Mormons, 1 Episcopal, 1 Presbyterian and one Buddhist and checked in with many of my old interfaith friends.   One of the goals of the Interfaith Alliance is to facilitate conversations and connections across religious, political and class boundaries so that we might better work together for the common good.  We feel that is especially important at this time of widening polarization.  An idea we are pursuing has been called “sideling up to difference.”  Instead of plunging people with radically different world views into a difficult conversation on subjects such as race or abortion, our idea was to facilitate some opportunities to build trust and some familiarity.  We would also highlight Earth Day by working together to nurture an earthy garden.  We did good methinks.


On congregational conflict: We UU’s seek to belong to “beloved communities” but, unfortunately, disruptive conflicts between members or between members and the minister arise all too frequently.  Maybe it’s related to our individualism as in “leading UU’s is like herding cats.”   I can say this from the perspective of serving for many years on our Pacific Northwest District Healthy Congregations Team whose job is to help congregations get through confliction afflictions.  I am also currently serve in our UU Ministers Association as a Good Offices Person and my job its to assist UU ministers who are in troubled situations.  I have seen disgruntled members of 4 congregations split off and attempt to form their own separate congregations (all ultimately unsuccessfully).  I have seen attendance and pledge support fall off precipitously as people not involved in the conflict, often prefer to stay home than be present in a toxic environment.  I have seen a number of congregations go through the painful process of barring disruptive persons from future congregational activities.

I am not bringing this up because of any significant, current conflict at KVUUC that I am aware of. I am bringing it up because, unfortunately, there is a good chance that will come about in the future and it is far better to have a policies and procedures in place that can be turned to when the time occurs, than not.  I also am bringing it up because our Council on Ministry supports us doing something along this line.  They are aware of instances in the past where members expressed dissatisfaction concerning another.  After nothing was done to address the situation the persons simply stopped attending.

Therefore, I will be offering for the board’s consideration a conflict resolution policy and procedure adapted from one used in other congregations.  Stay Tuned!

Springtime Blessings,

Rev. Bill