The Difference that Makes the Difference
I invite each of you who are reading this column to take a few minutes and ask yourself three questions: (1) what are the most meaningful experiences I have had in the past year(s) at FUUSN? (2) How did the quality of my engagement with FUUSN contribute to the meaningfulness of those experiences? (3) In the coming year(s), what difference do I want to make in the lives of members of the FUUSN community or members of the larger community beyond FUUSN?
I would love to know your answers to these questions as would the other members of our current Board of Trustees for we are asking ourselves these same questions. In essence, these are questions designed to help us all clarify our personal sense of purpose or mission as members of the FUUSN community.
You may or may not experience yourself currently as having a sense of purpose or mission with regard to your involvement in FUUSN. But it is important to ask yourself these three questions and listening for the answers. Having asked you to “take a few minutes”, I should issue a gentle warning: discovering and clarifying our sense of personal purpose may involve a process of discernment and conversation with others that needs to unfold over a period of time. More important than an instant response may be the willingness to sit with not knowing or only partially knowing and allowing the answers to come to you in their own good time.
One of the Board of Trustees priorities for this year is initiating an ongoing congregational conversation about the purpose or mission of FUUSN as a faith community. We are doing this not as an intellectual exercise, but to help us all focus our hearts and minds—and our actions–on what matters most to us as we grow together in the next several years. It is my firm belief that there is an intimate and intricate organic relationship between one’s personal sense of purpose or mission and the broader mission of the congregation. They co-develop and co-evolve, each shaping and influencing the other. The mission of the congregation can be thought of as an emergent product of the personal missions of each and every member of the congregation. These personal missions are in turn continually influenced and shaped by the broader mission of the congregation.
Thus the value and the necessity of this exercise. Oh, and another gentle warning: the exercise could become a spiritual practice. I use the word “spiritual” loosely here to refer to practices that produce an experience of being connected to something transcendent, something greater than our individual selves. Engagement with the FUUSN community is such a practice—or at least it has the potential to be so. The reason for this is simple: unlike many other things in our lives, our Unitarian-Universalist faith and our engagement with the FUUSN community calls us to make a difference in the lives of our fellow congregants and of those inhabiting the broader community of which FUUSN is a part. It calls us to action. It calls us into relationship with one another. And in doing so, it creates the opportunity for us to make a transformational difference not only in our fellow congregants but in ourselves as well. This is the difference that makes the difference.
-Chris Krebs, Board Chair