Saturday, June 25, 2005

On Being a Good Delegate

Several times during plenaries, we delegates were encouraged to think about our congregations when we voted. For the five Study Action Issues, Meg Riley urged us to choose the issue that would most like fire up our congregation. After all, the issues must be studied and discussed by congregations to be made real in the world.

The delegates were also straw polled on the potential Statements of Immediate Witness. Eight were presented, and we were asked to vote for no more than three in order to narrow down the total field to six.

Having never met any of my fellow congregants, how was I to vote? What is the sense of the CLF? When I was active in the UU Church of Palo Alto, this was easy. Attending services regularly, reading the Bulletin, and listening to the talk on the patio and in committee meetings, I heard the hot topics everywhere.

I suppose one way to handle voting now would be to think about what the Palo Alto folks would get fired up about. But as I spend more time in GA, I realize that Palo Alto is not a typical UU church. It is very much a reflection of the liberal, well-to-do California city it resides in.

When the minister from the Dallas church said, "A member of my congregation told me it was much easier to come out as a gay man than to come out as a UU here," I knew that the work and word of Unitarian Universalism is different in the heartland, in the Bible belt. Harder, and more life saving. That same minister said that it is very common for visitors to her church to weep. They weep because for the first time in their spiritual life, they feel normal.

Toto, we are in Kansas now. This spiritual landscape is alien to me. It ain't California, and it certainly ain't Boston.

CLF represents people from every state and beyond. I can't in good conscience treat them like Palo Altans. Nor can I profess to understand their lives as an abstract. I can only learn about each one as I meet them, if I meet them.

The only way to vote as a CLF GA delegate, is by choosing items that fire ME up. So that's what I've been doing. It feels selfish, but oddly liberating as well. I feel like a church of one.

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