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Rev. Shirley Ranck's keynote speech at the UUWR Annual GatheringWomen & Religion held its annual gathering in the morning of the day on which General Assembly began in the evening.  It was therefore a small gathering, perhaps twenty people.  We took some moments to appreciate the beautiful altar that had been created by Florida District W&R’s Susan Pendergraft, and to remember with sorrow, and some anger, the two UU W&R women and their children who had been murdered a few months earlier in Clearwater, Florida.  We did make some important decisions.  One was to support Laurel Hallman for President of the UUA.  Another was to choose Gretchen Ohmann and me (Shirley Ranck) as the new Co-Conveners.  I, also, gave a talk about prophetic women who have lived on thresholds in the past, focusing especially on the work of Sophia Lyon Fahs.

A GA workshop I attended, “Rev X: How Generation X Ministers Are Shaping Unitarian Universalism”, gave me the thrill of being in evolutionary synch with “the most hyperinstitutional movement” in UUism today (as the Program Book blurb said.) The Generation X ministers are leading the way for redefining UUism for a new era. The workshop gave me the impression their movement is growing out of seeing congregations as being bodies of small groups, is a rebellion in the form of “re-traditioning” the whole lexicon of religious words, is “raising the community of silence” for examination in our congregations, and is using today’s tools for communicating our saving message of “They would love us if only they could find us.” The change I heard from these new ministers would come in the form of Sunday services having spiritual practice that would deepen our experience of being. They seek to use the UU Principles as starting points for belief. They ask each of us to answer what leads us to a profound commitment to one’s faith. They are deeply listening to us in the laity for guidance to shape the contemporary Unitarian Universalist movement and to have our “hearts cracked open” through wholistic religious experiences. They are frustrated with the same old issues that have been around in UUism for a long time.

A birthday card I once got had these words:  “Find the place where you belong, then set your sights on reaching it.”  When I became the UU Women and Religion representative in the UUA Board-created “inclusion groups alliance” after all those groups were disaffiliated from official attachment to the UUA, I wanted to give the effort my all.  Coalition building in egalitarian, complementary collaboration is a good thing.  After all, with our UU membership being so small compared to the numbers of other religions, our Washington, D.C. UUA office usually joins in interfaith coalitions to make the UU voice heard on Capitol Hill.  Well, after about a year of teleconferencing we in the ‘inclusion groups” found that the coercive and unclear organizing we were placed in did not work to form the expected alliance.

Shared Leadership -- a PCD Leadership Day, November 1, 2003, training tool presented by Rosemary Matson & Geri Kennedy (Order from the UUWR Store)


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