Deepening through Growth: Monthly Theme for May, 2017

Deepening through …

GROWTH

Our monthly theme for May 2017

Theme-Based Ministry Resources from the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg


It’s the growing season. Leaves unfolding on flowers and trees, baby birds hatching out of eggs, seeds soon to be breaking open in sun-warmed soil and pushing their way into a new form and a new capacity to bear fruit. For our last monthly theme of the 2016-17 church year, we thought that focusing our energies on Growth would capture some of May’s exuberance. (Check the links for a stunning time lapse video of fungi bringing their odd springiness into the world.)

There’s a lot to like about growth, especially at this time of year. And many of us come to religious community precisely so that we can keep on growing: in spiritual and ethical maturity; in our caring for one another; in our understanding of the world beyond what’s already familiar. We also come hoping to help grow new generations of responsible and inspired citizens.

But growth is not always as smooth and seamless as time lapse photography makes it look. In fact, growth often looks like resistance at the beginning: growing pains are not only for children, and even an eggshell has to break open for fledgling birds to emerge. So join us this month as we test out our growing edges, both as individuals, and as a community.

Wisdom from Many Voices

“Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.” - Abraham Lincoln

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” - Anaïs Nin

“It takes a deep commitment to change, and an even deeper commitment to grow.” – Ralph Ellison

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” – M. Scott Peck

“In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.” – Audre Lorde

“Every mind was made for growth, for knowledge; and its nature is sinned against when it is doomed to ignorance.” – William Ellery Channing

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” – Anais Nin

Questions to Live With

  • In some circles, people talk about their “growing edges”: areas where you both long for and fear personal growth – like learning to do public speaking, or learning to speak up in the face of injustice. What’s your growing edge? And who told you it was there? Sometimes others suggest there are ways we should think about growing – with mixed results.
  • Adversity, unfortunately, often turns out to be one of life’s greatest teachers. All in all, would you say you have willed yourself to grow, or has life ended up “growing” you, whether you wanted to or not?
  • Farmers and gardeners know that letting soil lie fallow – or uncultivated – now and then, helps to restore its vitality. Are you due for some fallow time? Has fallow time ever helped you get back to growing when it was done?
  • Some people believe we should be intentional about “growing Unitarian Universalism,” by sharing its saving message with others, and actively inviting people into our communities. How comfortable are you with doing outreach for this movement?
  • The arc of life, of course, does not describe a pattern of constant growth. Whatever your life stage at this moment, is growth your main goal? Or do you quest for something different?
  • UU theologian James Luther Adams urged congregations to seek what he called incarnational growth. He believed we should seek to improve our ability to incarnate – or embody our values – by first building our members up, and then sending them out in a way that makes a difference in the world. Is this how you see the purpose of religious community?
  • In terms of the world's resources, the growth model has turned out to be devastating for the planet. And so, there's a new movement called "Degrowth," which commits to downsizing our use of the planet's resources. Where are you, on the continuum of striving for growth or degrowth?

Links

2 ½ minute video using time lapse photography to show magical images of fungi growing, also weaving in reflections about the spirit of life and the future of this planet. 

Blog post reflecting on our UU movement’s preoccupation with growth

Life in a Degrowth Economy, and Why You Might Actually Enjoy It,” reflections on a new antidote to our consumer-driven way of life.

Resource document outlining different perspectives of church growth, used as a handout during the recent First UU Winnipeg board/chairs meeting concerning church size.

All through the Month

May 7, 2017: Communities and Covenants

Back in March, the City Council unanimously approved the Winnipeg Indigenous Accord. Come join us as we explore how Unitarian Universalism can be a partner in this commitment to our future, both with each other as people and with the planet upon which we live. We will be one of over five hundred UU congregations around the world discussing how each of us can contribute to “Building A New Way.”

Service Leader: Meghann Robern, candidate for settled ministry

Service Coordinator: Roger York

The choir will sing.

May 14, 2017: Labours of Love

This will be our second and final service of Candidating Week with Meghann Robern, in which we will engage with the promise of shared ministry. How do we foster partnerships in which we work both to love each other in the here and now and to create the future together?

Service Leader: Meghann Robern, candidate for settled ministry

Service Coordinator: Laurie Marcella

Members, please be sure to attend and stay after service. The vote on calling our candidate as settled minister will take place immediately following the service.

The choir will sing.

May 21, 2017: The Genocide of Yazidis in Broad Daylight, and Operation Ezra

Yazidis are an ancient ethno-religious group originating in Mesopotamia and who are now mostly in Iraq. These monotheistic people have been subject to persecution and massacre for 700 years, and some have begun a new life in this city. Come join Nafiya and Michel to learn about this growing and dynamic Winnipeg community of Yazidis.

Service Leaders: Members of the Yazidi Community

Service Coordinator: Steve Lennon

May 28, 2017: Choice Points

In nature, things are programmed to grow. In human communities – by contrast – growth is more likely to be the outcome of a multitude of tiny choice points. Join us for the last in our series of stories from the heritage of this religious community, as we revisit how the church came to both grow, and grow into its current identity.

Service Leaders: Rev. Nicoline Guerrier with Kris Breckman

Service Coordinator: Laurie Marcella

planting a tree