It is Up to Us
In her sermon on August 20, Anne Laukaitis reminded us, “We are the congregation to carry on the dream and fulfill the vision”. This is our church. It is not up to our predecessors or our progeny what happens now. It is up to us. Some stellar folks have gone before us. If you’ve never read the history of the church on our website, you should. As Anne pointed out, “It has never been easy”. There have been trials and tribulations all along the way. But our people persevered. We are here because of their perseverance, and we owe it to ourselves, to our children, and to our forebears to take up challenge.
There is so much good work going on at Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church. That is the UU spirit. Congregational care is as strong as it has ever been. The loving spirit of our services is sweet as ever; our committees and teams are just as diligent as ever.
Just last month, Charlotte Pride was a very exciting event. It took a different approach this year. Lynne Godfrey led a Pride parade committee, which decided to save money and people-power by focusing on the parade this year instead of a booth and parade. We had a float thanks to Karl Hesse lending us his 14’ trailer. Some good people put great effort into decorating it. We had Piedmont UU Church banner bearers leading our way with monitors walking alongside. Our float had UUs greeting the parade crowds. Many members put time and energy into planning our participation. We were proud of our participation in and support for Pride.
As leader of the Men’s Group, it is a particular source of pride for me. We’ve been meeting for 4 years now and have earned our spot in the social milieu of Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church. Without necessarily naming that as a goal, we’ve become a band of brothers, knowing we have each other’s backs and being there whenever anyone or any group in the church needs help. We’ve been the primary labor for three dog run builds, working alongside the Piedmont UU Church Animal Ministry group. We’ve taken educational field trips, held a barbecue fundraiser, aided building & grounds many times, provided parking assistance, and helped with setup and takedown for memorial services. We’ve also invited numerous speakers, recently bringing in a climate change expert, and had members Lou Gardiner-Parks talk about his trip on the Appalachian Trail and Bob Voelker discuss solar power. In September, Anne Laukaitis will discuss the history of Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church.
The Piedmont UU Church Animal Ministry is very active in the community. At Pet Palooza last spring, so many people stopped by our booth and commented on our ministry telling us they so wished their churches had one. Those were opportunities for us to talk about the Unitarian Universalist religion. For the month of July, Animal Ministry supported the Children and Youth Religious Education (CYRE) program by running the summer program. What a wonderful experience. The kids are so bright and engaged. They are well behaved and are sponges for learning. All the volunteers left with a tip of the hat to Jolena James-Szanton, Anika Davis, and their wonderful crew.
Last year, I was a part of Partners In Education, a part of the church’s social justice team, and participated in tutoring. I developed a great relationship with my mentee and my fellow tutors. I enjoyed our visits, and I thought he was bright and getting brighter. Our discussions often ranged further than the reading for which I was there. He showed such promise, and the news at the end of the year that grades had improved made the tutors as happy as the students. I will never forget him. We read a book written from a dog’s perspective about his master called “Love that Boy”. I told him whenever I talked to anyone about tutoring I would end with “Love that boy”. He always smiled because he got the joke but also appreciated being appreciated. That’s what UUs do.
These are just a few of the opportunities for service in our congregation, and they are ones I have personally participated in and am proud to write about. We also have a superior Finance Committee that has a very hard job but they do it so well. They are supported by the Fundraising team that organized a successful yard sale in the spring, and the annual fundraising auction is just around the corner. The Endowment Team is working hard on a special grant opportunity through the UUA called the Wake Now Our Vision legacy challenge.
Social Justice is teeming with possibilities and is the umbrella for many sub-teams (ADORE, Animal Ministry, and Partners In Education). Jolena works with our ADORE group (A Dialogue on Race and Ethnicity) and our Healthy Congregations Team to put on the terrific White Supremacy Teach-Ins. Mary Frances and the Care Team hosted a showing of “Gender Revolution,” a documentary on gender identity, and will be hosting another showing this fall. Our Communications Team is so good we often don’t even know all they do, primarily because they do it so well. The Arts Group recently completed a several year run of art shows that often times featured members’ creations. The Gardening Group’s work has been rewarded with bounty that is shared with church goers.
We have many exciting activities happening soon at our church, including the choir resuming, CYRE sessions beginning on Sept. 17th (organized by Jolena and supported by many volunteers), the Annual Commitment Team gearing up for the fall canvass, the Building & Grounds team organizing a fall workday to care for our spaces, the Healthy Congregation Team offering a course on Nonviolent Communication, and Chalice Circles, led by church members, resuming. Ongoing support is offered by the Membership Team, the Music Team, and the Worship Team. I don’t know the name of the group that makes coffee, but I love them. I’m sure I’ve missed some but that makes the point of how diverse we are. Oh yes, there is one more group; what an honor it is to be part of such loyal, hard-working, and dedicated servants of the people, the Board of Trustees.
We’ll have a canvass soon. Our pledges will fund or support many of these activities. And if it is successful enough, the canvass will enable us to have a full-time minister. Many of us believe we have to do all this because this “work” feeds our souls. That’s who UUs are, that’s what UUs do. But we have to pay our way, and, as Anne said, “It’s up to us.”
Jim Price, President of the Board of Trustees