This past weekend I attended the Pacific Western Regional Assembly in San Jose. It was a delightful road trip up to northern California with Sara LaWall, Peter Farriday, and Grady Goddard. This assembly gathered together four districts which spanned from the Rocky Mountains to Hawaii, including 199 UU congregations. Over six hundred UUs attended to worship together, go to programming and workshops, and share in fellowship. It was inspiring and renewing!
The theme of Regional Assembly was “Big Faith, No Borders.” We heard about an expanded theology of covenant with Unitarian Universalists beyond borders and even beyond congregations. We were encouraged to consider the diverse ways that we express our faith in actions and commitments, within congregations and in our outside communities. During the weekend, we learned about the project Beloved Café, “a spiritual exploration center and venue for multicultural community life….physically centered around a coffee shop.” We also heard about innovative uses of technology, social justice projects and movements, and nurturing spiritual practices which are being pioneered by UU congregations all over the region.
One area of Regional Assembly that really touched me was the use of music. We used the song, “I am willing,” by Holly Near, as an anthem, singing it several times during different worships and workshops. The song reads:
I am open and I am willing
To be hopeless would seem so strange
It dishonors those who go before us
So lift me up to the light of change
Like the song states, we need to be open and willing to the challenges and sorrows of the world, and willing to be open to change within ourselves in order to meet these challenges. I think that a lot of people came to Regional Assembly with a mixture of emotions—both passionate about the successes and the future potential of our faith, as well as a need for hope and encouragement for our current struggles. Each congregation faces issues such as how to meet intergenerational and multicultural needs, how to remain spiritually uplifted in the face of suffering in our world, and, of course, finances and the budget. It’s nice to know that UUs from San Francisco to small border towns in Arizona, from the forests of Washington to the mountains Colorado, share similar challenges, and share common hopes and visions. The goal of Regional Assembly is to share resources and ideas, in order to work together in proclaiming our Unitarian Universalist faith. I think it accomplished this goal for me, and I am feeling hopeful and energetic about what we can do together.
I left San Jose thinking about what Unitarian Universalism means to me, in my work, my spiritual life, my participation at Neighborhood, and in my community. How do I, and how do you, live your faith? And what can we do together, if we are open and willing to the light of change?
-Christina Shu, Ministerial Intern