By now, you are hopefully aware that we will be having a very important workshop this Sunday after the worship service called “Beyond Categorical Thinking.” Laurie Willis Patterson shared a reflection about this workshop last Sunday at church. Here’s what Laurie had to say:
Paul and I were vacationing in the Pacific Northwest on a Sunday morning in July, and decided to check out a UU Church. We arrived a bit early and were hanging out in front of the entrance to the sanctuary. I noticed a woman who was standing sideways to me aways away. Her clothing caught my attention. She appeared to be wearing some kind of white blouse, with large multicolor ruffles all around the neck area, that was being interfered with by a piece of cream fabric rather askew over her shoulder. Then she noticed us, and came over to introduce herself. (I say “herself”, but by her walk and her hairstyle, she could have been “he”, or “they”.)
Turns out she was the minister. The piece of fabric over her shoulder was part of her minister stole….but it was on crooked, hung funny and it was an odd combination with the ruffles. Anyway, we had a good conversation and I looked forward to the worship service. The theme was on courage, courage to insert ourselves into the unfamiliar but righteous. Initially, when the minister spoke, I was still somewhat focused on her odd clothing arrangement……Anyway…
That week had been a week of the ICE raids. The minister had recently been trained to be called on as somewhat of a sentry and a presence when needed. With her heart pounding, she responded to her first call to see if a rumored raid on a Mexican restaurant had occurred. As she was telling the person at the front why she was there, a worker nearby just overheard the word ICE. By the time the minister got to the kitchen, half the staff had fled. She was embarrassed and felt guilty that her presence had caused an unnecessary panic in an already charged environment. Her message to us was a great one, with humor and pathos, and I was definitely over wanting to fix her clothing!
What distracts us, when we meet people who have defined roles in our world? What “ruffles” ruffle our thinking, and distract us from seeing deeper, and learning more? At times, as we get caught up in comparing folks to our “picture,” of who we think they represent. Are our pictures of the “ideal minister” categorized maybe by age, gender identity, nationality, physical or cognitive ability, race, sexual orientation? I think that most of us would to think that we have no prejudged, perhaps deep seated notions which may unintentionally exclude ministers who fall into certain categories. But are we sure?
Next Sunday, Wildflower Church will participate in the Beyond Categorical
Thinking workshop offered by the Unitarian Universalist Association for congregations involved in a search for a new minister. The Wildflower Search Team invites all congregational leaders, members, and friends to participate in this workshop, as it is a highly recommended part of the search process.
This opportunity allows the entire congregation fuller participation in the search process. It will allow us to explore our hopes and concerns for a new minister, learn more about the search process, and see how our own history (both personal and congregational) might interfere with our efforts in this search.
In finding the person who would be the best match as our minister, we could potentially overlook or even let biases keep us from knowing that a particular person could be the best match for us. This is yet another way for us to put our faith into lived experience and improve the odds that regardless of identity, we will find the minister who is the best match for us and who will serve us well.
Next Sunday, the 22nd, the workshop will begin at 1:30. Lunch will be served, and childcare for all ages will be provided. If you cannot stay for the entirety of the workshop, please come for what time you can. We would like for all potential minister candidates to know that a good percentage of Wildflower folks took the time for this training. We hope you’ll be among them!
Please let us know if you’ll be there, to help us in our lunch planning. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!