What’s the new normal and when will we get there? One thing is certain. When we return to services on campus, we will be experimenting with a hybrid model. Some can attend in person while others continue Zooming in. As with anything tried for the first time, the rollout will be somewhat messy — with lessons learned and applied along the way. Making these adjustments will take a lot of effort from our awesome staff so that even more people can access our worship. Thanks in advance for showing them your gratitude and also, your patience. A speaker I heard at the UUA General Assembly last June used the metaphor of wax that has melted and can still be shaped. She called it a liminal time, transitional, uncertain. That time is now. Reshape the wax now, the speaker said, while you can, before it hardens. I translated thus: make the church you want now.
So here are a couple of small beginnings before the wax hardens. Nearly everyone says we could communicate better. So I commit to your Board holding a “State of the Congregation” meeting in early spring. Another chance to use our one mouth and two ears to build community, to assess where we are and where we want to go. The Board’s Policy and Governance Committee has recommended we hold three Congregational Meetings each year. One in the fall to discuss annual goals, one in the spring to discuss budget, and our customary June meeting to ratify the budget, amend bylaws, and elect a new Board and Nominating Committee. That seems like a good thing, too.
Saturday, March 6, your Board holds its monthly Listening Session. The topic: “Should East Shore Change? Could we?“ Zoom in at 10:00 am to listen and share.
The wax we mold can and will be formed into more than one thing. There are some old forms we never want to see again: systemic racism, gross inequities in health, wealth, education, housing, emotional violence. And so much we might create. I hear from many who offer ideas for what the church needs. I hear pain, a dissatisfaction with the status quo, a yearning for something…more. I hear deep care for this place. We should center children and youth to ensure the future viability of the church. Yes. Center social justice. Yes. Take care of aging members and their pastoral needs. Yes.
There will never be just one way, or one right way to start. At the MLK Jr. March this year, one of the last speakers said, “Don’t talk about it. Be about it.” I do believe the secret sauce is in partnerships. What we do together is greater than the sum of its parts. Let’s learn how our own favorite issues intersect. Learn to ask for help when we need it. Share projects across ages, and ministry teams. Let’s just support each other’s achievements. Some judge others for “only” doing charity, when problems are systemic. Again, we need it all, all our work. East Shore has room for people who forward articles on Facebook. It has room for people who write checks to organizations. It needs people who want to harvest food and cook meals. And those who want to lobby in Olympia. Yes, yes, and again, yes.
Every group has a solid case to make about its centrality. We’ll never agree, as UU humans. Personally, the housing crisis may not be the issue I would have chosen, but it feels like the one thrust upon us. And, with so much underutilized land, it may be the problem East Shore can do the most about. Should we have safe parking for people who have to live in their cars? Do we have the appetite to envision and achieve a tiny house village, or a multi-use affordable housing complex to address the projected shortage of 10,000 housing units in Bellevue? These ideas are out there, and many others. Change is in the air. Let’s talk while the wax is wonderfully warm and malleable.
As ever, in faith, Mike Radow
by Mike Radow, Board President