News – March 4, 2022
Dear Members and friends,
Our theme for worship this month is “Reimagining Responsibility.” Throughout the month, in various ways, we’ll be reflecting on the question: What does it mean to be responsible in these times? Responsibility is about relationship and one way we will seek to answer the question is through understanding who and what we are in relationship with.
It is Women’s History Month. We’ll be celebrating in a variety ways. My March 6th sermon will center in on the month’s theme with a bit of help from the Unitarian philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft and the British novelist Iris Murdoch. On March 13th we will be welcoming into our pulpit guest preacher the Rev. Dr. Wilda Gafney. She’s a leading womanist biblical scholar and is the first in a occasional series of guests who we will be welcoming over the next year or so who come from outside of the Unitarian Universalist tradition. Unitarian Universalism’s commitment to religious pluralism means that our pulpit should be a space interfaith dialogue. Rev. Scott and I are actively looking for two or three religious leaders other traditions who would be comfortable offering our congregation a sermon. If you have a suggestion please send it our way!
Rev. Scott will preach the last two Sundays in March. On the 20th, he’ll offer a sermon devoted to celebrating Our Whole Lives, Unitarian Universalism’s comprehensive lifespan sexuality education curricula. He’ll close out the month with a sermon titled “Rights and Responsibilities” in which he calls us to consider the tension between rights and responsibilities.
While Rev. Scott is leading the service on the 27th, I will be attending the intergenerational church retreat at UBarU. During it, Carol and I will be offering worship services and several members of the congregation will be providing workshops. I hope you’ll consider attending. There will also be ample opportunities for relaxation and fellowship. UBarU is a special place, a Unitarian Universalist retreat center that has a dark sky observatory, and I have found visiting there to be a powerful experience. It costs $145 per person to attend and there are scholarships available. To learn more about UBarU, check out the forum Rev. Scott did awhile back with Robyn Stout, the center’s Executive Director.
March is also a month for planning and preparation. Throughout it the Stewardship Team, the staff, and I will be getting ready for our annual stewardship campaign. We are still looking for a few people to serve as canvassers. This is a great way to get to know other members of the congregation while sharing with, and learning from, them all the wonderful things about First Houston. If you are interested please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are three opportunities for training. Two will be held in-person at the church on March 5th, with a morning session running from 10:30 a.m. to noon and an afternoon session running from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. There will also be an online session, via Zoom, at 7:00 p.m. on March 8th. The trainings are being offered by Kay Crider, the fabulous stewardship consultant we are working with for our annual campaign and for the proposed autumn capital campaign. Helping with stewardship is a wonderful way to serve First Houston and strengthen Unitarian Universalism for generations to come. If you’ve not already signed-up to be a canvasser, I hope you will consider it.
With the decline in COVID cases, we are also in the midst of revising our guidelines at the church. We have decided to continue with mask wearing for awhile longer. At the same time, we will resume refreshments this Sunday and plan to restart congregational singing at the beginning of April. Religious education and several other programs are also changing their guidelines. More information about those changes is being communicated directly to our volunteer program leaders. Special thanks, as always, to our great Health Advisory Group. They continue to thoughtfully advise us on how best to respond to the unfolding pandemic.
I close this month with a poetic fragment from Serhiy Zhadan, one of Ukraine’s best known contemporary poets:
How did we build our houses?
When you’re standing under winter skies,
and the heavens turn and sail away,
you know you’ve got to live somewhere you aren’t afraid to die.
The Rev. Dr. Colin Bossen, PhD Senior Minister, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston
Community Stories Fellow, the Crossroads Project at the Center for Culture, Society, and Religion, Princeton University
Where Are the Ministers?
This month, I will be preaching on March 6th and assisting our guest minister, the Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, in the pulpit on the 13th. I will also be leading worship at the church retreat March 26th to 28th. In addition, I will be attending Planned Parenthood’s Annual Roe v. Wade Luncheon in Houston on March 4th and the stewardship training on 5th. From March 14th to 20th I will be in Boston, conducting research at Harvard for my book on contemporary Unitarian Universalist theologies (under contract with Brill for publication in early 2023).
Rev. Scott will be in Dallas on March 5th to attend the 2022 Rhapsody Gala, a benefit for the Turtle Creek Chorale featuring a concert by Audra McDonald. On March 13th, he will be on the chancel with Dr. Bossen to help welcome Dr. Wil Gafney to our services. Rev. Scott will then be preaching the final two Sundays in March.