Workshop Report contributed by Jutta Hamm

The workshop was designed to give participants the opportunity to raise issues of concern to our UU community and faith that really matter to them and to be heard.

We were asked to share with each other what really matters to us. Needless to say, among the 8 participants, there were numerous different issues and opinions. Some were drafted as a question, while others were a direct criticism.

Here are some of the questions and concerns that were raised:

What is Unitarian-Universalism: A religion or a way of life, and where do you get information about that?  How do we talk about death and the possibility of an after-life? Is there a god? Are we allowed to say God’s name? What do I really want in my life? How can I connect with the world and find an authentic way to live? We meet only twice a year, what can I do in between? Is our faith outdated because of the way we do our services and meetings, and do our communities therefore not grow? Why is our faith not lighting spiritual fires inside ourselves, as it should? What can be done about our theology being too fuzzy and superficial? Why is the ethical side of our religion so overwhelming and the spiritual side so weak? Why is our missionary work less than half-hearted? What is our “text”, our common content?

These are just some of the points that were made by group members. Some of these issues were answered or opposed directly by other participants. For example, someone responded that we have a rich resource of texts because we can make all texts our holy texts, if we want to. But it became clear that as some are happy with this abundance of sources, others find this kind of theology way too random and scattered.

Needless to say, each of us came from diverse places, and we did not have enough time to find sufficient answers or to bring discussions to a consensus.

In my opinion, the workshop had a very good atmosphere, where participants wanted to hear each other’s opinion and respected all the differences. The questions and issues were very interesting, and each one would deserve its own workshop. One participant suggested we should have such an open forum at each retreat.