Theme-based ministry (TBM) is a worship and learning practice designed to give us a deeper and richer experience in worship, in small groups, in religious education and other programming. This past year -- Sept 2011 to June 2012 -- was our first year trying this new method, and we’ve had good success in using the themes to offer ways for all of us to engage our spiritual and religious lives more richly and fully. Others noted our programming, and Rev. Lynch led a workshop on TBM at the Central Midwest UU District Assembly as a result!
With TBM, each month we reflect on and explore in depth a different theme through Sunday worship, newsletter columns, music, and through stories, resources and programs for children and adults (including web-based resources). We hope that the themes will find their way into UUnity Circles and other small groups, and into our Social Action programming and other areas of church life as well. All committees, teams and groups are invited and encouraged to coordinate their programs with the themes.
Below are the themes for the upcoming Church Year (Sept 2012-June 2013) You can request a copy of this information as a Word document from Ebbie in the church office.
Meta-Theme for 2012-13 – “Living Our Faith”
Last year’s themes were tied together by the meta-theme “We Are a People Of…” for example, “We are a people of Gratitude” (May 2012’s theme).
For the 2012-2013 church year, our meta-theme is “Living Our Faith.” Each of our ten monthly themes fills in the blank: “Living Our Faith: Practicing _____________”
The meta-theme reminds us:
• Our Unitarian Universalist faith is meant to be lived, as individuals and as a congregation.
• It reminds us that spiritual practice comes in many forms.
• It reminds us that we change our lives and change the world step by step, by practicing our UU faith and values.
At UUCW, there are “givens” that underlie who we are and all that we do to live our faith. These include love, justice, peace, earth ministry, and growth and learning. Thus, these are not called out as separate themes; we consider them part of all the themes!
MONTHLY THEMES The monthly themes below were developed from more than 200 suggestions given by 38 lay leaders in the church.
SEPTEMBER: Living Our Faith: Practicing Embracing Change The practice of embracing change includes taking risks and stretching beyond what we know. It means seeing both the beauty in what we are now, and the beauty we can be if change is truly welcomed. It’s building on our firm foundation to step into the new opportunities that beckon to us.
OCTOBER: Living Our Faith: Practicing Radical Hospitality The practice of radical hospitality has to do with being inclusive, but even more so, it means welcoming the stranger without expecting the stranger to assimilate to our way of doing things. It’s a way of welcoming that transforms us. It’s is rooted in the gospel, but also in Buddhism – a practice of seeing the world differently as a result of truly meeting another.
NOVEMBER: Living Our Faith: Practicing Openness to Mystery Openness to mystery is key to practices like prayer and meditation that help us touch into a source beyond the self – or into our deeper Self. It asks that we trust the unknown – to practice deep listening not only to what “makes sense” to the mind, but also to what makes sense to the body and to our intuition.
DECEMBER: Living Our Faith: Practicing Joy Practicing joy includes celebration and laughter, but it can also be a quieter kind of feeling that moves us outward in the spirit of service.
JANUARY: Living Our Faith: Practicing Reason Reason. It’s the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs based on those facts. Reason helps us discern when we are idolatrous in behavior or belief, and doubt -- reason’s cousin – is both a helpful tool and a practice all its own. Reason in religion is a cornerstone of Unitarian Universalism.
FEBRUARY: Living Our Faith: Practicing Prophetic Witness To practice prophetic witness means to be in solidarity with those who experience oppression, to lift up into conscious awareness the signs of what is going wrong in society, and to seek to make justice possible. There are many different forms of prophetic witness.
MARCH: Living Our Faith: Practicing Deep Stewardship Deep stewardship is more than generous giving of money or time, though it includes both. It has to do with seeing life through the lens of abundance, and the knowledge that each of us has gifts to share. Deep stewardship is a commitment to creating a sustainability that is joyful and encompasses all aspects of life: the planet, relationships, our health, our work, and our values.
APRIL: Living Our Faith: Practicing Speaking Our Truth Speaking the truth of our UU faith makes us visible. It’s a kind of evangelism that offers light, not the shadow of forced conversion. It’s beyond the “elevator speech,” a speaking that is non-verbal as well as verbal: when our actions match our values, we are “speaking” our truth as UUs.
MAY: Living Our Faith: Practicing Harmony Deep connections come from the practice of harmony. Harmony – a musical term – is, in terms of human lives, grounded in a profound respect for one another.
JUNE: Living Our Faith: Practicing Compassionate Action Compassionate action is the kind of action that connects us to one another and to a larger wholeness. It is service and ministry, the kind of action that sees another’s pain, and helps ease it.
If you have questions about how to incorporate the themes into your committee, group or team’s programming, please contact the Rev. Suzelle Lynch.