“And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that never were.” —Rainer Maria Rilke
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” —Joseph Campbell
So here we are - beginning a new church year at Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church. We've got a newly instituted Board of Trustees, a new budget for our finances, a newly revitalized minister - back from sabbatical and ready to infuse us with newly found wisdom she's discovered.
We are ready to embark on many new ventures and explorations - picking up anew the study of the path to a new sanctuary, continuing to discover how we keep our campus safe, and a beginning at looking at new ways we can make our congregation more meaningful and available to the community at large in our area.
We have so much to offer the larger community - from: being good listeners; more realistic views of life; openness to new ideas and other viewpoints; being "apple sauce" filters to many of the ideas being currently circulated; being open and welcoming to all good persons.
When General Assembly was held in Salt Lake City in 1999, the Rev. Stefan Jonasson, met with the head of missionary work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Knowing that several thousand UUs were coming to town, this Mormon official had done his homework, and he told Stefan something interesting: Proportionate to our size, he said, Unitarian Universalists do a better job of attracting visitors than do the Mormons. But, he added, we do a terrible job keeping them. "If your churches were half as successful at integrating and retaining members as we Mormons are," he concluded, "then Unitarian Universalism would be the most dangerous church in America." —UU World Archives
I'm not sure that we at OCUUC have the visibility to attract the number of visitors we would like to, but I'm certain that we are not as good at retaining people (particularly our youth, as they mature) as the Mormons - I've known and worked with some Mormons (very good people) and they are committed to community, family, and continuance. We need to learn some of that.
Are we ready to learn these valuable lessons? I'm planning to meet with one of our commercial renters, Chatter Inc/Appletree, in Suite 9, who has offered to give us some lessons in attracting likeminded people to our venue. Who will join me in an exploratory gathering with them this month (I have one volunteer already)?
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” —Seneca