Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Reading Buehrens/Parker - Ecclesiology - what is the purpose of church and how does it best do its work?
While I think inclusivity and not exclusivity is a good thing I also am sensitive to the idea of integrity and the need for boundaries which creates an identification with a meaning jointly shared. As the bumper sticker says "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." UUs do believe in the 7 principles which they covenant to affirm and promote when they sign the book and join a congregation.
The governance of the church is very decentralized and supposedly democratic, and what this means in practice is unclear. Whether this local control is a good thing for the whole denomination can be an issue for debate, but how we, as a people, come together and relate with one another and the external world is an ongoing experiment. The question which goes unspoken is whether there is a corporate respect for a Higher Power which works through the church or whether the church is merely a secular organization similar to a civic club like Rotary or the Kiwanis?
Part of my faith is that there is a Higher Power working through the church and is manifested in the actions and mutual recognition of the faithful. I am not sure how many UUs think and feel the same way. However, if most of the faithful see the church is nothing more than a civic club devoted to social change and the amelioration of society, the church loses what is special about it as a societal organization and than is its mythic dimension of mystery, awe, and reverence.
Does God or a Higher Power, Spirit of Life, work through the UU Church or is the church similar to a secular organization working for the betterment of humanity and providing social support to meet people's social needs?
Does the church work primarily for social justice and positive change or is it also a vehicle for spiritual nourishment to help people become their better selves through a transforming grace?