"Big Questions, Big Answers" Series for Covenant Groups: People of Faith Respond to September 11
The Rev. Michael McGee, Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA
This past year our church in Arlington, Virginia, sponsored a series of monthly sermons called "The Big Questions." They were delivered by our team minister, Rev. Joan Gelbein, and myself, with our other team minister, Rev. Linda Olson Peebles, leading the children in a monthly service on the big questions as well.
We also organized 15 covenant groups with an average of about 8 people per group, that met monthly to discuss each of these questions (we also had 10 other covenant groups focused on other issues). Other groups in the church also entered into the discussion, including the youth group, the Buddhist group, and the humanist group.
I was thrilled that we involved the entire congregation, all ages and philosophies, in conversing with each other about some of the most significant questions in our lives. Those questions were:
- What is the meaning of life?
- Why do we need religion?
- Why evil?
- How do I know what I know?
- How do we face death?
- Why do we suffer?
- What does it mean to be human?
- How can we survive?
I must tell you that we had planned this program long before September 11th, but I can think of no better way for us to minister to each other than to have these sermons and covenant groups available to our members and friends. They gave people the chance not only to ask the big questions that were so prominent in everyone's minds, but to have others to listen, to respond, and to share feelings and ideas.
You might be interested to know that this year our theme will be "The Challenge of Religious Pluralism: Searching for the Big Answers." The monthly sermons by the team ministers will focus on the answers proclaimed by the religions of the world. The participants of the covenant groups will discuss those answers to see which are relevant and useful and which are not.
The premise of this series was that we find deeper meaning in our lives when we have the courage to ask the big questions of life and then to faithfully seek to answer those questions.