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Living our Witness at WaterFire, General Assembly 2014
General Assembly 2014 Event 434
This report is part of a longer event. Go to General Session VI for the complete video and order of business.
THE MODERATOR: If you heard my moderator's report yesterday when—yes- yes- what day is this? Yesterday. You know a little about me and what UU evangelism means to me. For me UU evangelism isn't about changing people's minds or changing their beliefs. It's about touching their hearts and inspiring greater love in the world. And that's exactly what we've been building towards this week, engaging with the power of love and preparing ourselves to actually practice reaching out in love.
I want to bring up a fellow evangelists now, someone who embodies the love we're all about and believes in sharing it. Please welcome Alex Kapitan, congregational advocacy and witness program coordinator for the UUA. Hoo hoo!
ALEX KAPITAN: Thank you, Tim. Thank you. Hi General Assembly. Are you feeling the love?
ALEX KAPITAN: I'm sorry I didn't hear you. I said are you feeling the love?
ALEX KAPITAN: Yeah! That's more I like it. Well my name is Alex Kapitan. I work for your national headquarters. I'm a lifelong UU and I am here to testify for love. What do you think about love? What do you really think? Because I've seen the eye rolls. Mhmm. I've heard the grumbling. What are we talking about, something soft and squishy like love for when there's injustice that needs to be battled right now? But let me tell you something, when I speak of love, I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. I'm talking about love, which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative. I'm talking about understanding goodwill for all humankind.
Those are Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.'s words. He was 26 years old when he was tapped to be the leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. How many people do you think told him he was naive to believe in love? He wasn't naive and neither am I. Practicing love, not affectionate love but unconditional love, toward people who perpetuate injustice is hard. It is hard. But working toward a world where all people, all people, even the people I struggle with are able to thrive and live in harmony, it's worth it. That's beloved community.
Beloved community, beloved community, is not an enclave. In beloved community there is no us and no them. If as King preached we projected the ethic of love to the center of our lives, there could be no injustice, no war, no inhumane treatment. There is no greater justice cause. There is no greater spiritual imperative than love. So do you believe in the power of love?
ALEX KAPITAN: Excuse me. I said do you believe in the power of love?
ALEX KAPITAN: All right. If you believe, or if you want to believe, then join me in being an evangelist for love. Join me in spreading the good news that because of love a better world is possible. Will you join me?
ALEX KAPITAN: Excellent! Because tonight we get the ultimate opportunity. At our public witness event tonight we are going to witness for love. Every year at General Assembly we stand on the side of love and witness for justice. This year we're going to witness for the greatest justice cause of all. We are going to prepare our hearts right here at our Make Way for Love worship service and then we're going to process to the river front and join the Providence community for a local community arts festival called Water Fire. We are going to have a chance to light fires on the river, join in this community event and infused it with love. There's going to be all kinds of love happening. There's going to be community singing, art, reflection, meditation, prayer, a love tent. Yeah. Uhuh. You're going to have to come and find out what that is. A stage featuring Emma's Revolution, Universal Love, and more. Activities promoting love. Flowers. Water. Fire. All in the name and the goal of inspiring more love in the world.
We are the sponsor and hosts of this festival tonight in partnership with the nonprofit that runs it because we want everyone there to feel the power of love. We want to meet each other, engage with each other, invite each other to act on love and justice and spirit. Just for tonight, what if there was no us or them? What would it feel like to practice that and take it home with you? This event gives us a chance to really practice love reaching out. I want you to consider how you can embody unconditional love through your actions. Don't just think about love, act on it. How can each of us be an evangelist for love? Each in our own way? What will you do to cross borders? Be bold and practice something new tonight. What will you say when someone asks you, what is this love stuff all about? Or what's Unitarian Universalism?
Tonight we will celebrate the fifth anniversary of Standing on the Side of Love and we will proclaim to tens of thousands of people that love can create a better world. Are you with me?
ALEX KAPITAN: All right. Then I'll see you tonight. Wear your yellow love shirts if you have them. Come to worship right here at 7:30 and be ready to process down to the river afterward. And together let's light up the sky with love. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Alex.