Making Good Trouble in Salisbury - Salisbury Gathering, 2022 Synopsis
Salisbury, the county seat of Rowan County, is the residence of many who attend the Salisbury Gathering. Even those who attend regularly and live outside of Salisbury, tend to have a short and leisurely drive to church. As an early member of Piedmont, and accustomed to a long drive to numerous locations over the years as Piedmont grew, I delight in our small town neighborhood church and the liberal religious views we bring as we contribute to our larger community.
Smallsbury, a moniker you learn to appreciate, means you often run into fellow church members at community events. Attendees of SG regularly find ourselves living the UU tradition of social justice beyond our church walls. A born and bred Methodist before becoming a UU, I often think of the hymn “Blest be the Ties that Bind” as we regularly meet our Piedmont members, our interfaith congregants, and neighbors at community events promoting our shared values.
SG attendees are also active members within the walls of the greater Piedmont UU. Many serve on committees and teams or as regular volunteers in 2022, while others, (Merry O, Teresa R, and Bob V) have served actively in recent years and are currently taking a deserved hiatus from leadership roles.
● Beth F – VP of the Board
● Eric H – Endowment Committee
● Sheila W – Worship Committee
● Eileen H – Membership Committee
● Dianne L – Care Team
● Cassandra S – ReGathering Committee
● Pam B, Dianne L, Sheila W, Beth F, Eric H, Julia H – Gathering Team
● Chris S, Eileen H, Sheila W, Angela K, Dianne L, Connie B, Teresa R, Pam B, Beth F – Service Assistants and Hosts
● Beth F – Ministerial Options Search Committee
After our first service following Covid in Dec. 2021, regular services at SG continued at our new location in early 2022 – the chapel at John Calvin Presbyterian. This chapel space was offered as a landing space for both Piedmont SG and Temple Israel after the synagogue was sold. John Calvin and Temple Israel have long shared an interfaith community and SG has been part of this shared religious community for the last decade.
As a charter member, the SG congregation reminds me of the early years at Piedmont during our nomadic years. Our gathering delights in each other and our existence as a liberal religion in a conservative area. We find the perfect in the imperfections of our new space and have recently rearranged the space to better fit our needs. John Calvin is a welcoming church congregation and they are delighted to share their space with us and others in our community as part of their commitment to living their Christian values. Part of the “imperfect” has been the plumbing problems at The Hut, the space we have previously rented from John Calvin as the gathering space for our religious education program. Time doesn’t always move quickly in a small town. Relationships are made with handshakes and often on faith. SG continues to find gratitude in the opportunities a small town community presents.
As 2023 approaches, we hope to find innovative ways to engage our youth and teen population within our current space. In addition, we are also hearing of interest from families with younger children. Many of us at SG think a regular religious education program will be an important building block for a larger congregation in Salisbury. John Calvin will eventually get to the plumbing, and if not, we will eventually work out an arrangement in their Sunday School space in the main church building.
Highlights of 2022 for SG
● New space at John Calvin
● Back in person for services
● Hugs again
● New attendees
● Earth Day Jam
● Salisbury Pride
● Ordination of Shakeisha Holton Gray
● UU Social Justice Fridays
● Support of Rowan Helping Ministries
● Postcards to GOTV
● Attending the Poor People’s Campaign – A National Call for Moral Revival
● Interfaith Thanksgiving with John Calvin and Temple Israel
● And importantly, Reverend Amy and Reverend Shakeisha
Events Beyond our Church Walls – We are an active group in Salisbury. I include this list as some at Piedmont may be unaware of the extent of the UU presence we take into our community. Salisbury, like the Charlotte area, offers so many opportunities to live our faith. This list contains those events and organizations where I know we have multiple SG folks attending or actively participating. I have not surveyed the entire group for additional activities that support our UU values.
● Local Women’s March
● Local Fight for Our Lives
● Racial Equity Rowan, 2 day workshop
● “The Talk,” a community outreach weekend to present an original play at different locations to emphasize and invite dialog about race and provide an opportunity for various groups to create actionable solutions to racial injustice and misunderstandings.
● Education Forum based upon educating the community about the place of faith institutions in supporting public education and the Leandro plan.
● Community gathering at Bell Tower in support of Ukraine when they were invaded by Russia.
● Numerous South Main Book Co. community discussion and informational events – banned books, foster children and guardian ad litem informative discussion, campaign to eliminate corporate sponsorship of Confederate presence at Faith 4th of July parade.
● Salisbury AAUW events from candidate forums to the new suicide 988 educational presentation
● Nonpartisan group event participation, Rowan Concerned Citizens and Democracy NC – various events.
● Nonpartisan advocates for Sunday voting in Rowan and the most accessible Early Voting plan for all voters.
● Partisan participation in organizing support for candidates who support UU values throughout the election season and throughout the year.
● Continuing involvement with Actions in Faith & Justice, a group working to mobilize community-based collaborative action to eliminate disparities and to establish racial equity.
● Support of Women for Community Justice initiatives; from the Sheriff forum, to the push to garner support from Salisbury and other towns in Rowan County to adopt an Affirmation of Fundamental Reproductive Freedoms, to the continued questioning of accepted practices in our community that are not equitable.
● Participation and support of Center for Faith & the Arts, founded in 1995.
● Participation and support of Meals on Wheels.
I can best describe SG in 2022 as community oriented congregants, social justice activists, and a growing family rebuilding those ties that bind us as we celebrate our joys
and sorrows together as a collective gathering. Sometimes there is grace in moving slowly. SG finds happiness and purpose in our existence in Rowan County.
Respectfully, Pam Bloom, Gathering Team Chair, 2022
Nov. 17, 2022