As I write this, I am preparing to leave for back to back conferences in Portland – Ministry Days and General Assembly – and from there to Vancouver Island, where I have a summer home, for my holiday and study leave. With all that is going on, both in the congregation and at large, it does feel like leaving a play or a movie midway through. It is a little hard not to feel a twinge of guilt about taking a break at this time. So many visitors coming to services on Sunday, so many committees and initiatives still in their early phases, so many plans for future programs not yet fleshed out.
My goodness, how did it get to be June? The passage of time has been on my mind, due to the fast rate of change at UUFCO these last months. There’s been a lot to do: a lot of meetings and conversations, a lot of “getting things in place,” and trying things out. It’s a time of strengthening our foundations and adding to our structures to support the bigger family that we are becoming.
Welcome to the UUFCO website. It’s our hope that you find helpful information about Unitarian Universalism and this particular congregation among these pages.
For those of you I have not yet met, my name is Antonia - pronounced “anta-KNEE-ah.” I’m fairly new to Bend, hailing from British Columbia. As UUFCO settles into its new home, I’m settling into Bend. Perhaps you are too. We have many recent arrivals in the congregation.
I became a minister because I believe in the power of Unitarian Universalist congregations and liberal religion to heal spirits and change the world. In difficult times, we need to support one another and find inspiration. In good times, we need to reach out to help others and the Earth that is our only home. Either way, standing on the side of love means widening our circles of community, compassion and courage. ‘Spirituality in community’ is important for our wellbeing, a fact now supported by many studies, and its importance may well extend far beyond ourselves.
So what can you expect when you come to a Sunday service?
A congregation’s Sunday services create a heartbeat rhythm that is a foundation or touchstone in people’s lives. At UUFCO, we operate on a basis of ‘shared ministry,’ which means that I work alongside members of the congregation, to create a rich experience of being together. Worship is a place and time of opening to new ways of seeing and being - seeing value where we didn’t before, being restored, renewed, healed, inspired.
I understand worship as ‘worth shaping.’ In my preaching, I aim to interpret contemporary life in ways that make sense and meaning, and bring awareness of the Spirit of Life. The Seven Principles and Six Sources of Unitarian Universalism found here are my guides, and life itself is my muse.
You are welcome to test the waters at UUFCO as often as you wish. No one will pressure you to certain religious beliefs, or to membership. We see ourselves as being called to a way of life rather than a set of beliefs. That way of life is to seek our own truth, to respect others, and to build networks of trust together, despite our differences.
Wishing you peace wherever your journey takes you,
Rev. Antonia Won
What a spectacular weekend we have just had, honoring the creation of our building that nourishes our spirits in ways we are only beginning to realize. Thanks to the many who made it happen, and to all our guests who added so much to our occasion.
A building transition is a high-risk time for any congregation. To deal with the question of whether or not the ministry would go ahead added an unanticipated and unprecedented uncertainty for UUFCO. How unusual this whole set of circumstances was! And how gracious everyone has been throughout these months of ambiguity and transition.
It’s too early to say we’ve made it through, but so far, so good. After this weekend, many are ready to slow down (well, I should speak for myself!).
We are welcoming many more people at our Sunday services. Members are returning and many are checking UUFCO out and getting to know us. It's an experience! Joyful and demanding at the same time - like having triplets! It’s a privilege to share our loving home and a challenge to stretch our embrace to fold everybody in. A common thread is that we are ALL experiencing something new. First timers are taking a risk simply to come through the door and open themselves to the community. It's a very vulnerable moment for them. Long timers are more spread out from the familiar faces in the larger crowd, and are also meeting new people.
Newcomers bring new ideas, perspectives, styles and needs, and we must make room for them, just like family Christmas traditions have to adapt when a child marries and we have to accommodate and blend the new partner’s tradition and family obligations. Love asks us to compromise to make our loving family larger.
It’s March. The monumental and much-anticipated move to the New Home has happened. The building has exceeded our expectations even with some details still being finished up. January and February were months of heightened activity, energy and emotions as we made many transitions and we heard the visa application was approved. Last Sunday UUFCO was featured in the Bend Bulletin. As minister and involved in many of the Fellowship’s affairs, the pace has been dizzying. Functioning at a distance doesn’t seem to make navigating the changes any less intense!
You who are parents may remember how you left home one day as your normal self, and came home another day as a parent. You were still the same person, with the same siblings, the same job, the same home, but the new addition of a baby changed the balance of your life, instantly and even more over time. In the beginning, ‘parenting’ involves attending to simple needs: safety, the practicalities of feeding and changing diapers, finding rhythms and shaping schedules, getting new equipment, learning the sound of different kinds of crying and what they mean, having visits with the doctor and other knowledgeable people, and receiving congratulations and extra attention from friends and strangers alike. For the first while, it’s a mixture of excitement, learning curve, concern, joy and sometimes exhaustion. As we gain experience in caring for the baby, the new routines get sorted out, and the child starts to grow, our attention turns to the question of how we want to raise the child. What values do we hope to embody as parents? What do we wish for our children’s lives, and how will we foster that as they grow up in the years ahead?
We will be much like new parents learning the basics as we take up residence at the New Home – hopefully without the exhaustion. Like new parents, our first weeks and months will involve many practical questions about how things work and who does what.
Happy New Year
Now that the holidays are winding down, we can clear the decks and start fresh with our new projects, new goals, and new resolutions. It's also the time when we can trip ourselves up, setting high expectations in the hopes of meeting some ideal: becoming a paragon of fitness, a model parent, or never doing (fill in the blank) again.
There’s nothing like an early shot of winter to kick the Christmas spirit into gear, or at least to get us thinking about the holidays, whether Christmas, Hanukah, Solstice. In our northern setting, the cold and the dark send us indoors to light candles, feast, and to take time to celebrate the mystery and the gift of life.
We use the word leadership often in UU circles. It used to be that the word referred to positions of responsibility like Board member or committee member, a position in the congregation’s structure. More and more I find we are using the word leadership when we mean something different, not limited to these official roles. Maybe it’s committing to a spiritual practice, eating healthier, improving your relationships, or focusing your priorities, but making a change in how you live your values is leadership.
Most people who step up to an official role in the congregation aren’t aiming to be leaders. Some do it because the congregation is a safe place to stretch themselves in new ways. Others step up because they feel the task is desperately important and they want to contribute.
These are all spiritual commitments. They are borne of a hope to create change (and spoiler alert – learning is creating change). I’d even go so far as to say they are expressions of faith.