By Lynn Kapitan, Board of Trustees Representative
A funny thing happened last week . . . when the Board of Trustees and the Ministerial Transition Team got together over lasagna and cookies to talk about collaboration and the tasks of the interim period. To structure our conversation, Rev. Julie suggested we divide up into four small-group discussions: worship, leadership, finances, and something called “general.” Although we sorted ourselves easily, the finance discussion group was left with no takers. In fact, there were quite a few awkward chuckles and sidelong glances when its absence was discovered.
The evening was productive; the value of asking transition team members to review board priorities and vice versa quickly helped us see the forest through our many trees. But what about this aversion we always seem to have in talking about finances? Why was its discussion missing that night? Because we love UUCW and hold it dear, my guess is that our discomfort is tied to uncertainty — of whether we have what is needed to protect and sustain UUCW and be prepared for a future we cannot see. Perhaps the alternative is too painful to think about.
What is Money But a Way to Measure Value?
In laying the groundwork for attracting our next settled minister, Rev. Julie is helping UUCW be intentional about changes we must embrace. We want to shift from a scarcity mindset to one of possibility and abundance. We are working toward renewing our vision and reach, and discerning “Who would miss UUCW?” were it no longer here. Such a question centers on our impacts and values, for each other and in the broader community.
As Edgar Villanueva asks in Decolonizing Wealth, what is money but a way to measure value, to facilitate exchange? And what is exchange but a type of relationship between people? Money is a tool to reflect the obligations people develop toward each other as they interact. Like water, it can be a precious life-giving resource. And, likewise, it can be shared freely or dammed up, channeled, siphoned off, and stored away. UUCW’s finances are a tool of love, which we use to facilitate relationships, to invest in and support our deepest values, and to help each other and our community replenish and thrive. And if we use our money to promote equity and put it to life-giving, restorative purposes, it can heal where people are hurting and stop more hurt from happening.
Leaning Into Discomfort as a Way Forward
Like so much that we are grappling with, such as the 8th Principle and discerning the mission and vision of UUCW, the money question forces us to lean into discomfort and areas we might prefer to avoid. As with racism, it is a privilege to treat money like it’s invisible and not to be talked about. Letting go of privilege means putting ourselves in situations that feel uncomfortable while actively working toward a world that is free of all forms of oppression. What a gift it can be to stay open and curious in those moments of awkward chuckles and sidelong glances that sometimes accompany our work together. If we stop and lean into them, we might embrace discomfort as a way forward — as a means to deepen our relationships and grow in discernment.
For more information, contact the Board of Trustees.