As we move into the new church year, I’m more thankful than ever that there is a home for liberal religion in the South Hills. Ours is a truly unique community where diverse spiritual beliefs are not only tolerated but warmly accepted for what they really are; each person’s attempt to find deeper meaning in life and to connect with the world we all share. As many of us know, that kind of acceptance can be hard to find.
I’m also thankful for our new Director of Religious Education, Cheryl Kelley, and for our great volunteer teachers and the large, vibrant RE program we enjoy here. My son and daughter love coming to church every Sunday and seeing their friends. The values being taught in their classes reflect my own—love, respect, democracy, environmental stewardship, making good choices and living with the consequences of your choices. Indeed, lessons to truly be thankful for.
I’m thankful for Rod Thompson, our Interim Minister. Besides giving us a fresh perspective from the pulpit, I’m very excited about the series of workshops he has planned for us this year. They’ll help us start building the strong foundation we’ll need to move into the future. First, Rod will lead us through a Right Relations workshop. Many of us believe this should be our number-one priority, so we’re tackling it first. In January, we’ll offer an Identity workshop, where we’ll get to the heart of “who we really are” as a community. In February, we’ll have a Visioning workshop, where everyone will have a chance to tell us where they think we should focus our energy moving forward. In March, I’ll travel to the District Assembly in Cleveland, where I will publicly convey our thanks for the Chalice Lighter grant we’ll receive from the member congregations to help us rebuild after a difficult year. And finally, in April, we will take a thorough look at the church’s Mission in light of all the work we’ve done up to that point. We’ll then turn that mission over to a yet-to-be-formed Strategic Planning Team, who will create a solid action plan to bring our mission to life and ultimately lead us into the critical process of searching for a new minister.
And yes, because it’s that time again, I’m not only thankful, but thrilled about our exciting new Canvass; one that puts monetary contributions into a larger context of giving. It takes much time, talent and treasure to keep a roof over our own heads and food on our tables at home. This church is no different. It takes considerable time, talent and treasure to keep our shared house in order and to feed our own hungry spirits. From RE…to roof leaks. From programs…to plumbing. From staff…to software. We need your many gifts. And most of all, we need you.
In mid-October, you’ll receive your Canvass packet. Between now and then, I urge you to put some real thought into what you can pledge to this community moving forward. Do you want to see it embody everything you know it can be? I know I do. So I ask that, according to your ability and your faith in our future, you make a commitment. Make your voice heard. And by all means, make it resonate.