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PatGoller-DA2010-194Riding back from the 2010 Central Midwest District Assembly-UUA on Sunday before last, I read from a Meg Barnhouse book ["Did I Say that Out Loud?"] I had picked up at the assembly book store at Wheeling, Illinois. Meg, a long time UU Minister and host of "Radio Free Bubba" on North Carolina Public Radio has incredible insight and a sense of humor that in her telling makes ordinary things have special meaning and import.

The book literally fell open to a short reading called "Brick by Brick." I read as the miles toward Springfield melted away.

Meg had been driving by a brick wall job in her hometown Spartanburg [South Carolina] for several weeks and observed a suntanned man of 70 who appeared to be the job supervisor. He watched and smiled as young brick layers buttered and stacked brick, laughed, talked and encouraged others on. He, Meg concluded seemed to enjoy his work, but she began to wonder what about it made him smile. Was it the idea of the project in process or interacting and teaching young wall builders the tricks, the techniques that form a good wall? Was it the idea of finishing a long job or did he even notice how long it was and simply take joy in the day to day work? She concluded that he probably didn't even think about the end product or about the space between this job and the next, but enjoyed the process of on-going work.

The district assembly themed "Becoming the Faith of our Time," seemed much like the on-going work of building a long brick wall.

Future congregation presidents or treasurers joined the lunch tables on Saturday whose announced subject interested them. Enthusiastic musical types were sequestered for three rehearsals over the weekend with the funny and generous Marty Swisher, Choral Festival director, from Unity UU Temple in Oak Park. All were invited to Marty’s hotel room for an "M & M party" after performance! It was the first District choral fest and some opted out of the rest of the weekend to join the choir for rehearsals and performance on Saturday evening after the banquet.

Others with serious furrowed brows and questions joined in conversations about finances, governance, social outreach, programming and more. Others set up vendors tables like Diana and me. We came to promote the UU Women's Connection and celebrate Margaret Fuller's 200th birthday. Other organizations...humanists, Channing Murray, Women and Religion committee came to promote their causes and programs too.

I chose the Young Adult service after choir practice on Saturday, because I heard one of the choir soloists singing "Imagine" by John Lennon as I walked by. His voice and guitar drew me in. These Young Adults are always so full of hope and ideas. But this year they asked participants to pipe up with ideas about becoming the faith of our time. UUs are never without ideas and there were many, but that brings me back to Meg who encourages me to think about just enjoying the process and keeping up the work.

Becoming the faith of our time seems all process. Building a connecting wall, teaching others how to mortar up the bricks of raising consciousness, money and fun, taking care of business, providing programming for our congregations and taking up opportunities to seriously practice the pluralism our principles encourage us to strive for. It is what builds the wall for me...the sought after Holy Grail of being the faith for our time is already in place and we need only keep on keeping on.

Pat Goller, Tuesday, May 11, 2010
UU Women's Connection of the CMwD

After the annual reports and routine updates at the 2010 Central Midwest District Annual meeting, Rev. Roger Brewin took the microphone to make a motion that the delegates of our district send a signal to the leadership of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) by encouraging them to consider moving the location of the 2012 General Assembly (GA) out of Phoenix to protest that state’s repressive new law on immigration.

According to Arizona law SB1070,  police would be required to ask any person already detained for proof of legal residence if police had a “reasonable suspicion” that the detained person could be in the country illegally, which will inevitably lead to racial profiling. This law also allows officers to arrest anyone if they have “probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.” In addition, the Arizona law allows private citizens to bring lawsuits against officials or agencies that they believe are not enforcing the law to its fullest extent and even implicate legal residents who transport or “harbor” undocumented friends or relatives as additional violators of the law.

Kimberly Hampton, from First Unitarian in St. Louis, who is also a member of the GA Planning Committee for the Unitarian Universalist Association, told the delegates that the Planning Committee was already looking at options for 2012, including the possibility of moving the venue, but there would be substantial financial penalties for pulling out of Phoenix at this point because of signed contracts.

Rev Lynne GarnerRev. Lynne Garner spoke on "Selling Unitarian Universalism" at the District Assembly in Wheeling Illinois. She won the CMwD Annual Sermon Contest.

Rev. Brian Covell, minister of Third Unitarian Church (and newly-elected CMwD Board President) acted as liturgist for the District Assembly Sunday Service, where he introduced the "newly-minted Rev. Garner" and talked about her recent ordination and long-time involvement with TUC.

UU Musicians' Network liaison Jan Chamberlin of Eliot Chapel in Kirkwood MO, led the singing for the service, and Dan Broner, upcoming UUMN president, provided piano accompaniment.

You may listen to Rev. Garner's sermon right now. Just click the PLAY button on the audio bar below: