Service of the Living Tradition, General Assembly 2019
General Assembly 2019 Event #278
Unedited live captions of the Service of the Living Tradition (TXT) were created during the event, and contain some errors. Captioning is not available for some copyrighted material.
The Ministries and Faith Development Staff Group invites you to join us at this service where we honor those ministers who have died, recognize those who have completed active service, and welcome those who have received fellowship, credentialed or certified status in the past year.
It is Time Now
Generation after generation, those called into religious leadership have been challenged to rise to meet the demands of their day. In the increasingly precarious climate of our time, who are we called to be?
Order of Service
John Hubert, Music Director; Guest Musicians, Choir; All
- “For the Earth Forever Turning”
- “Circle Round for Freedom”
- “Where You Go”
- “Courage, My Friend”
- “Hush, Somebody’s Calling My Name”
Welcome and Invocation
The Rev. Dr. Sarah Lammert and Dr. Janice Marie Johnson
Climate Justice Leaders
“With the kindling of this flame, we reaffirm our commitment to accept life’s gifts with grace and gratitude and to use them to bless the world in the spirit of love.”
by The Rev. Dr. Rebecca Ann Parker
Opening Hymn: “Danos un corazón”
Calling Forth in Celebration
Ministers Receiving Preliminary Fellowship
Credentialed Religious Educators
Certified Music Leaders
Anne Watson Born
Ministers Receiving Final Fellowship
Those Completing Full-Time Service
The Rev. Judy Welles
Hymn: “We Would Be One”
Remembering Those Who Have Died
The Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray
Lighting the Memorial Candle
The Rev. Susan Manker and Mr. Curtis Seale
Musical Response: “Wanting Memories”
Offering for the Living Tradition Fund
The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt
Choir: “Soon Love, Soon”
The Rev. Lindi Ramsden: Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (excerpt) by Rebecca Solnit
Choral Response: “We Shall Be Known”
Sermon: “It is Time Now”
The Rev. Lindi Ramsden
Closing Hymn: “The Tide is Rising”
Spoken: The Rev. Lindi Ramsden
Musical: Healing Waters, Choir
Recessional: “The Tide is Rising” (reprise)
Ministers Receiving Preliminary Fellowship
- Norman Allen Shari
- Julie Price
- Leonisa Ardizzone
- Rayna Hamre
- Joy Christi Przestwor
- Deborah M. Bennett
- Allen Harden Kristen Psaki
- Catherine Boyle
- Rachael Ann Hayes C.
- Nancy Reid-McKee
- Ashley Burczak
- Joanna M. Herren
- Jessica Star Rockers
- Elizabeth Carrier-Ladd
- Andrea Johnson
- John Eric Severson
- Abigail Clauhs
- Kristen A. Kuriga
- K.C. Slack
- Emily Michelle Conger
- Michelle Lattanzio
- Sara Smalley
- D. Scott Cooper
- Rodney Lemery
- Jane Bennett Smith
- Claire L. Curole
- Jim Lewis
- Andrea Spencer-Linzie
- Christine Dance
- Rebecca S. Leyser
- Taryn Strauss
- Cynthia Davidson
- Christe Lunsford
- Gary R. Strichartz
- Kevin DeBeck
- Karen Dawn Madrone
- Shelly Thompson
- David Dubbeldam
- Kimberly Anne Mason
- Patricia Trudeau
- Charley Earp
- Megan Mathieson
- AJ van Tine
- David Egan
- Justin McCreary
- Ruth Vann Lillian
- Amy Fiorilli
- Mira Mickiewicz Zackrie
- Thomas Vinczen
- Aileen Marcela Fitzke
- Andrée Mol
- Lee Anne Washington
- Alexa Fraser
- Rosemary Morrison
- Danielle Webber
- April Frazier
- Elizabeth Ann Mount
- Krista Weber-Huang
- Jack Gaede
- Fulgence Ndagijimana
- Samantha Lynne Wilson
- Mandy Goheen
- Janet Newton
- Christopher Wulff
- Sara Elaine Green
- Millie Philips
- Crystal Zerfoss
- Yadenee Z. Hailu
- Eleanor Piez
Certified Music Leaders
- Carolyn Bjerke
- Alison Vernon
Credentialed Religious Educators
- Darlene Anderson-Alexander
- Dayna Edwards
- Sara Sautter
- Tim Atkins
- Marguerite Mills
- Steven Cooper
- Mia L. Noren
Ministers Receiving Final Fellowship
- Rachel Baker
- Angela Marie Henderson
- Nastasha Ostrom
- Rebecca Bryan
- Seanan Holland
- Patricia A. Owen
- George A. Buchanan
- C.Lynn Hopkins
- Janet Parsons
- Madelyn E. Campbell
- Darrick Jackson
- Sarah Richards
- Brian Chenowith
- Joan Javier-Duval
- Tandi Rogers
- Elizabeth Chronister
- Megan Lloyd Joiner
- Tandy Wilkins Scheffler
- Amy Williams Clark
- David G. Kraemer
- Christian Schmidt
- Kelli Clement
- Sara Eileen LaWall
- Mark Skrabacz
- John Cooper
- Sherman Zobish Logan
- Randall Spaulding
- Jennifer S. Dant
- Theresa E. Mandeville
- Tracy Springberry
- Kali DeHart
- Kathleen McGraw
- Aaron Stockwell
- Jorge Espinel
- Lisa Mobayed
- Linda Thompson
- Seth Fisher
- Karen Mooney
- Schuyler Vogel
- Anthony Fisher
- Paul Oakley
- Emily Wright-Magoon
- Roger C. Grugel
Religious Professionals Completing Full-Time Service
- Lynn Ashley
- Mary McKinnon Ganz
- Harlan Limpert
- Jade D’Aquilarive “JD” Benson
- Jann Halloran
- Benjamin Peter Maucere
- Michael Wardell Brown
- Andrea Purdy Heier
- Donna Morrison-Reed
- David M. Bryce
- Holly Elaine Horn
- Frederic J Muir
- Daniel E. Budd
- Lone Jensen Broussard
- Richard Roberts
- Richelle Carmichael Russell
- Bryan D. Jessup
- Don Southworth
- Cathy Cartwright-Chow
- Steve Jewell Crump
- Lori Staubitz
- Emily A. Champagne
- Pat Kahn
- Patience Gruber Stoddard
- Gregory Chute
- Elizabeth “Kit” Ketcham
- Jerome A. Stone
- Sara Cloe
- Maureen Killoran
- Michael Thompson
- Francis Dearman
- Tony Larsen
- Marion B. Visel
- Rod Debs
- Michael R. Leduc
- Jean Wahlstrom
- Julie Forest
- George G. Brooks
- Richard Henry
- Richard Jasper Norsworthy
- Beverly A. Bumbaugh
- Eileen B. Karpeles
- Clark B. Olsen
- Victor H. Carpenter, Jr.
- William N. Kennedy
- Marc A. Salkin
- Cynthia J. Edson
- Bjarne O. Kjelshus
- William Clinton Saunders
- Dorothy M. Emerson
- Raymond G. Manker
- Alan Leslie Seaburg
- Carol Fincher
- Alexander Meek
- Arnold Thaw
- Max D. Gaebler
- Raymond A. Michel
- Matthew D. Tittle
- Rudolph C. Gelsey
- John Hanly Morgan
- Peter W. Webster
The Rev. Lindi Ramsden’s ministry has been informed by three decades of service in both the parish and community. From 1985-2002 she served the First Unitarian Church of San Jose, California. During the following decade, she served as Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry California. Currently, she serves Starr King School for the Ministry as the Director of Partnerships and Emerging Programs and as Visiting Assistant Professor of Faith and Public Life.
The Rev. Dr. Sarah Lammert and Dr. Janice Marie Johnson, Co-Directors of Ministries and Faith Development, Unitarian Universalist Association
Our chalice lighters are Levi Draheim, UU Church of Brevard, Florida, and the youngest plaintiff in Juliana v. United States constitutional climate lawsuit; Amelia Diehl, Network Coordinator, UU Young Adults for Climate Justice, Chicago; Aly Tharp, Program Director, UU Ministry for Earth, Austin.
Jesse King, Chair, Ministerial Fellowship Committee
Sara Lewis, Chair-Elect, Religious Education Credentialing Committee
Anne Watson Born, Chair, Music Leadership Certification Committee
The Rev. Judy Welles, President, Unitarian Universalist Retired Ministers and Partners Association
The Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, President, Unitarian Universalist Association
The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, President, Starr King School for the Ministry
Representing the families of professional religious leaders who have died during the past year are family members of the Reverend Doctor Raymond G. Manker
Welcoming the Honorees onto the Platform
The Rev. Wendy Williams, President, Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association
Shawn McCann, President, Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries and Credentialed Music Leader
Annie Scott, President, Liberal Religious Educators Association and Credentialed Religious Educator, Master Level
Our Music Director is John Hubert. John is a conductor and singer originally from St, Louis, MO who has been with the First Universalist Church of Den- ver since 2004. John received his BA in Music Performance from Truman State University in 2000, and a Master’s in Music at CU-Boulder in 2003. He was the Choir Director of the Spirituals Project Choir from 2007-2012, the UUA’s General Assembly Music Coordinator from 2009-2010, an Affiliate Professor of Voice and Choir at Regis University from 2011-2016, and the Music Direc- tor at several more traditional churches.
The Singers of the Living Tradition Choir is composed of Unitarian Univer- salist professional religious leaders and members of the Association for Unitar- ian Universalist Music Ministries.
“For the Earth Forever Turning” Words & Music: Kim Oler, © 1990, 2003 Helium Music; Arr: Nick Page and Jim Scott. Streamed by Permission under WORSHIP- cast License #7275. Reprinted by Permission under ONE LICENSE 804156-E.
“Circle Round for Freedom” Words and Music: Linda Hirschhorn. Used by Permission.
“Where You Go” Words & Music: Shoshana Jedwab ©2017. Streamed by Permission under WORSHIPcast License#7275.
“Courage, My Friend” Words & Music: Eric Bogle, adapted by If- NotNow as Courage. Streamed by Permission under WORSHIPcast License#7275.
“Hush, Somebody’s Calling My Name” Words & Music: African American spiritual. Arr: Jason Shelton, © UUA. Used by Permission.
“Flame” Words & Music: Susie Ro Prater. Used by permission.
“Danos un corazón” Words & Music: Juan Antonio Espinosa, © 1972; Harmony: Samuel Pascoe; Arr: OCP Publications.Streamed by Permission under WORSHIPcast License #7275. Reprinted by Permission under ONE LICENSE 804156-E.
“We Would Be One” Words: Samuel Anthony Wright; Music Jean Sibelius. Public domain.
“Wanting Memories” Words & Music: Ysaye Barnwell. Streamed by Permission under WORSHIPcast License#7275.
“Soon Love, Soon” Words & Music: Cynthia Yih Shih. Streamed by Permission under WORSHIPcast License#7275.
“We Shall Be Known” Words & Music: Karisha Longaker. Streamed by Permission under WORSHIPcast License #7275.
“The Tide is Rising” Words & Music:Rabbi Shoshana Meira Fried- man and Yotam Schachter. Used by Permission. www.rabbishoshana.com
“Healing Waters” Words: Suzanne Bury; Music: Clif Hardin. Streamed by Permission under WORSHIPcast License#7275.
The annual Service of the Living Tradition recognizes ministers who have been granted preliminary fellowship, achieved final fellowship or completed full- time service; religious educators who have achieved, or are retiring from, credentialed religious educator status at the master or credentialed level; and certified or credentialed music leaders. We also remember and honor professional religious leaders who have died between May 16, 2018 and May 15, 2019.
The offering received today supports the Living Tradition Fund which provides scholarships, debt reduction grants, and financial assistance in times of need to seminarians, ministers, religious professionals, other congregational staff, and retired ministers and their loved ones.
The service is prepared under the auspices of the Unitarian Universalist Association Ministries and Faith Development Staff Group.
Front cover photo: Western juniper, photo by Lindi Ramsden.
This unedited transcript is from live captions created during the event.
>> Good evening. I am reminded tonight that one of the few identities more challenging than that of the minister is the child of a minister. Of all the members of a family in service to a congregation, it is the children who truly have no choice. So when our older son cried for hours when we learned of my call to the New York City congregation I had longed for, we thought he would be all right. But six weeks after we moved from New Jersey, four days into his new third grade class, two planes flew into the World Trade Center and my baby was not all right. He drew picture after picture of bombs falling; while I spent hours at church with my shell shocked congregants, or took a shift as a chaplain at Ground Zero, he snuck into the living room after bedtime to watch movies about war. One night, coming home late from a board meeting, my husband met me at the front door. "Go talk to Allen; he won't go to bed till he sees you." Looking in while his little brother slept, I found him rearranging things in an old basket we had. Looking up from his work, he asked me for a pair of my socks. "Why do you need my socks, baby?" "I have everybody's socks but yours, and gloves, and some water." But what is all that for, I asked him. "well, if Osama bin Ladin comes, we'll have to run,” he answered me, always my earnest boy. I found socks for him and tucked him in, then entered our bedroom and cried.
Ten thousand NYC children were afflicted with post traumatic stress syndrome in the wake of the world trade center attacks; our child was one of them. He needed more care than we could afford but the Living Tradition Fund was there for us. We thought those years of therapy would be enough. And they were, for a long time. But puberty brought newer and more frightening concerns, with testing and doctors, rehabs and psychiatric care for our ever more troubled son. My husband's insurance plan, good for annual checkups and bodily ailments, was a shameful disappointment when Allen's diagnosis was psychiatric, but unclear. Through those years of fear and stress, the Living Tradition Fund stayed by our side, helping to bridge the financial gap as we searched for Allen's health and healing.
Allen is nearly 26 now; a talented guitarist, a gritty, inventive writer, like his father; a survivor of mental illness with a diagnosis; an understanding of his challenges and a future. It could have been different for us and might have been, if not for the support of the Living Tradition Fund.
On this night, when we honor all those who serve our congregations and communities, at every phase of their careers, I ask you to honor those who serve with us the partners and particularly the children of our religious professionals. Your radical generosity tonight will make a difference in the lives of so many people, people whose stories you may not know, but whose needs are just as great as our family's needs once were. Whether it's the desperately ill child of a DRE, or a seminary graduate overwhelmed by student debt, or a retired minister making the choice between this week's groceries and this month's medication, your gifts truly matter. On behalf of those you have already helped including the McNatt family and all those who will one day be helped by the gifts you give tonight, please accept our heartfelt thanks. The offering will now be received.
>> According to the composer, Vienna Teng, soon, love, soon is a song that dares to hope that someday, we'll learn from our mistakes, be beyond all this mess and live peaceful, happy lives.
[singing "soon love soon"]
>> The following are excerpts from the third edition of Rebecca Solnit's book hope in the dark: untold histories, wild possibilities.
"It is important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and tremendous destruction."
"Hope locates itself in the premises that we don't know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes you.
“Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It is the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone."
"Cause and effect assumes history marches forward, but history is not an army. It is a crab scuttling sideways, a drip of soft water wearing away stone, an earthquake breaking centuries of tension."
"Anything could happen, and whether we act or not has everything to do with it. Though there is no lottery ticket for the lazy and the detached, for the engaged there is a tremendous gamble for the highest stakes right now."
"To hope is to give yourself to the future, and that commitment to the future makes the present inhabitable."
>> We shall be known by the company we keep, by the ones who circle round to tend these fires. We shall be known by the ones who sow and reap. It inspires us to keep the good company we keep and go deep into the well, our source of creativity, connection, and ability to thrive.
[singing "we shall be known"]
In the mid nineties, the last time General Assembly was in Spokane, i was waiting in the Seattle airport for the final leg of the journey and I began noticing fellow UUa arriving from other parts of the country. You can spot them across the airport sometimes.
An older colleague in a dapper tweed jacket caught my eye. It was the Rev. Nathaniel Lauriat from Arizona. While from different generations of ministry, we had each served the First Unitarian Church of San Jose as our first ministerial settlement. He had started his ministry in 1945 and I began there 40 years later.
From time to time, Nathaniel had mailed me a handwritten note expressing his support and encouragement, providing a tangible connection to this generational endeavor that is our living tradition. I truly appreciated these simple gestures of respect and kindness from a minister who was about the age of my father.
As Nathaniel and I visited in the airport, I soon discovered that this was not an ordinary General Assembly for him. After 50 years of parish ministry, during which time he had served 5 different congregations, Nathaniel was as of one day earlier now officially retired. Just one day earlier, he had preached his final sermon. I was impressed.
A few months shy of my first decade in ministry, I found it very hard to imagine sustaining one's ministry for 50 years. I had not even been alive that long! We shared stories and conversation on that short flight, one of which continues to inform my own ministry to this day.
Nathaniel was only 23 years old when he was invited by the First Unitarian Church of San Jose to be their candidate for ministry. Organized, and eager to make a good impression, he had prepared two worship services for the Sundays that would begin and conclude his candidating week. His first Sunday service went well, but little did he know what was yet in store. It was August 1945, and the very next day after his first sermon, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, followed by the bombing of Nagasaki a couple days later.
I try to imagine what it must have been like, at age 23, to be far from home, brand new to ministry, trying to land a job. How did he find the spiritual and emotional resources to minister in such an earth shattering, history altering moment?
Ever since Nathaniel told me the story of how his ministry began, I have tried to remember that there will come times when we simply will not know what to do. History does not always inform the present. Sometimes we are called to religious leadership in a radically changed and morally terrifying landscape.
I believe that now is one of those times. From Deuteronomy 3:19. I call heaven p and earth as witnesses against you today that i have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendant may live. That you and your descendant may live.
Over the past 34 years of ministry, I've tended many services of the living tradition, whether arriving exuberant or exhausted, it has been a blessing to step out of the pull pelt and into the pew, joining with colleagues to celebrate the generational arc of religious leadership, honoring those who have preceded us and welcoming those who will continue long after we ever hung up our stoles.
As June 28th marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, I do want to take a moment to acknowledge with deep respect and gratitude those trans elders of color who courageously claimed their own freedom, refusing to aqueous to another night of police violence and intimidation.
While the work is far from done and our trans and nonbinary kin are still targeted in cruel and demeaning ways, I do want to recognize the generations of queer organizers, artists, ministers, and movement builders who have harnessed the momentum of love and outrage to create significant change over this past century.
I am personally
I am personally grateful. Those who came before me pushed and cracked open doors that I was able to walk through. They made it possible in 1985 for me to enter our ministry as an openly lesbian minister. To have been offered this opportunity that others helped to create makes me particularly committed to live in a manner that will help to pay it forward.
Tonight as we recognize and honor our living tradition that unfolds through generations of ministry, let us also feel the weight and the promise of the as yet unwritten future. We hold this living tradition in trust for generations yet to come.
So what does that look like today in an era in which our larger culture and economy are rife with intergenerational injustice? What some name as intergenerational theft? How traffic we move into a commitment to intergenerational solidarity? Young people are providing powerful leadership, confronting systemic racism, calling out complacency and mocking the lives and institutional intransigence that puts their lives and the planet at risk. They are organizing their peers, proclaiming their moral witness and refusing to accept the unacceptable.
Witness the livid grief of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting as they call out the NRA and the BS of cautious politicians.
Respect the masterful tenacity of young activists in the streets of Ferguson, harnessing local and national outrage to hold police to account and stop violence against black lives.
And listen to 15 year old school strike for climate active he is Greta Thunberg who, when invited to Davos to address powerful leaders at the world economic forum this January, delivered a speech that was heard round the world. She said, either we prevent temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees or we don't. Either we avoid chain reaction of unraveling ecosystems or we don't. Now we all have a choice. We can either create transformational action or continue with business as usual and fail.
I often hear adults say, we feed to give the next generation hope. But I don't want your hope. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I do every day and i want you to act. Behave like our house is on fire, because it is.
Unwilling to settle for anything less than the spiritual, financial, and political commitment that is commensurate with the scale of the crisis we are facing, young leaders are calling us out and inviting us in. Greta is right to be angry and alarmed. She is right to insist on telling the unvarnished truth to power. For at least three decades, twice as long as she's been alive, climate scientists have been trying to get the world to take notice as they warned of had of all of the danger inherent in a warming planet, only to have their research and integrity discredited by fossil fuel funded campaigns working to sew public doubt, distrust, and discord.
So with reports from real climate scientists and experts not getting the public attention they deserve, the humorist and educator Bill Nye the Science Guy, he recently stepped into the fray and brought his shtick to TV on John Oliver's last week tonight.
So we're going to try and channel a little bill.
>> How does that look?
Okay. I'm going to need your help with this, because in order to share what Bill Nye told his audience in a manner that is suitable for tonight's worship service, I will need your help. So when I wave my hands, would you please call out a loud bleep? So let's practice. You ready?
>> One more time. Ready?
>> Okay. All right. Let's try this. First you have to imagine there's a globe over here. And I'm talking a blower to it. And it's burning. By the end of this century, if the emissions keep rising, the average temperature on earth will go up another four to eight degrees. What I'm saying is the planet is on bleep fire.
There are a lot of things we could do to put it out. Are any of them free? No. Of course not. Nothing is free, you idiots. Grow the bleep up. You are not children anymore. I did not mind explaining photosynthesis to you when you were 12, but you are adults now. And this is an actual crisis. Got it?
>> Got it.
>> Thank you. Yes, we got it. The reality is sinking in, in part because so many more of us are starting to directly experience the consequences. I am currently developing a climate faith and justice initiative at Starr King School for the Ministry which includes teaching seminarians to be better prepared to serve their communities during times of climate disaster. It has been a sobering experience to realize that there are no shortage of UU ministers, from my students to interview, who have already experienced the great challenge of ministering to their congregations during massive hurricanes, cataclasmic mudslides, terrifying wildfires, and the floods of biblical proportion. As Bill Nye told the late night audience about climate science, perhaps we can ask John Oliver to line up another guest professor to teach the second half of the lesson, one on climate justice.
America must understand that it goes both within and beyond our nation who are most vulnerable to climate disasters. Those who have the least access to resources to prepare, survive, rebuild, and recover are also those who have made the smallest contributions to causing this hot mess.
Climate injustice is layered on top of centuries of colonialism and conquest, stolen land, and slave labor and indigenous genocide. There are important signs of progress, but there still is such a long way to go to acknowledge and honorably address the historic need for truth telling, for reparations and healing.
But now is the time to go all in to think big, to address foundational issues, massive public and private resources will be mobilized. The question is, where? And in whose interest will those investments be made? It is so important to leverage this moment and this time of gathering momentum to advance equity, to create climate justice. It is time now, and what a time to be alive.
Now, nothing slows momentum like giving up hope. And hope is not optional for those whose lives stretch out into the next 70 years. For me, open is not a feeling to have or not have. It is a virtue to be cultivated, a religious practice that nourishes your soul. As Rebecca Soleman instructs, hope is not the belief that everybody will be fine, hope is an embrace. Unknown, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Were we to translate this idea into unitarian universalist theology, to me it sounds a lot like our teaching that revelation is not sealed.
Our youth and young adult leaders are stepping forward and into action and they do deserve our engaged support.
Our chalice lighters this evening, Ally and Amelia, are organizing Unitarian Universalists to create climate justice and Levi lives on a barrier island in Florida threatened by the rising seas. With the support of our children's trust, Levi and 20 other young leaders from across the U.S. are suing the federal government to secure the legal right to a stable climate and a healthy atmosphere for current and all future generations. They're going to stand up.
[cheers and applause]
Ally and Amelia?
Thank you. This is such foundational work and i'm so glad to hear your enthusiastic applause for their leadership.
Now, in October of 2018, just last year, the international panel on climate change, the global body of leading climate scientists issued a new report. What most caught my attention was the deadline. It was so much shorter than i had imagined. So the earth has already warmed 1.1 degree celsius above preindustrial levels. If it we hope to limit that warming to no more than 1.5 degrees and avoid catastrophic climate impacts, they said we only have until 2030 to reduce emissions by 45%. And by 2050, a mere two decades later, we must be fully carbon neutral. Really? By 2030? That's only 11 years from now. But as a Sunday morning sermon writer knows, there's nothing like a real deadline to sharpen the mind.
I've been realizing that i need to shift my understanding of the climate crisis and reparative climate justice, from a cause among causes an existential demand, like dismantling white supremacy that needs to be woven into all aspects of my life and my ministry.
I have to admitted that afternoon 11 year window makes it much more concrete. I can count out the years. 2019, 2020, 2021, all the way through 2030. I try to imagine how old i and my loved ones will be and then I think, what do i need to stop doing to find time to prioritize this work? How much time traffic i take off work to participate in this pivotal election in 2020? While I have become a train rider instead of an airplane flyer, my own life is far from carbon neutral. What steps am I, are we able to take to become more consistent, a part of the solution and less a part of the problem? These are core questions for all of us and for all of our institutions to answer over these next 11 years. What a very strange thing to find oneself at such a watershed moment in the history of the planet, when the lives of generations to come depend, in large measure, on what happens during this relatively brief window of time. If you are wanting your lives and ministry to make a difference, not only in the short term, but in geologic time, this inflection point in history is quite a moment to be called into religious life and service.
Sometimes a call can feel like an invitation and at other times like an imposition. The story of Moses' call shows him out minding his flocks and minding his own business when god calls out of the burning bush and charges him to lead his people out of Egypt. Moses, although respectful, was fairly quick to point out his own inadequacies, suggesting that the heavenly nominating committee call on someone else.
Someone else with more leadership skills, more suited to serve and succeed in that pivotal moment. While god did not let Moses off the hook, i am glad to note that he did suggest a leadership team be formed.
With a more eloquent air in taking on their communications portfolio. We are not meant to do this work alone. I remember overhearing a call tore a radio show who asked the presenters what they could do as one individual to make a difference in the global climate crisis? And i loved the respondent's blunt answer. The most important thing you can do is to stop being an individual. Systems change when you join and work with others.
That's right. It's such a good point. It applies to us as individuals and to our congregations and communities as well. We have so much to learn, so much to learn from this crisis, from each other, from the force of life itself. On the cover of your order of service is a photo of an old western juniper whom i visit from time to time. When sitting at the foot of this master, i am reminded of the majesty and power of creation that far exceeds my grasp, my will, and my time on this earth. Richard powers, in his recent novel over story, says through 1 of his characters, people aren't the apex species they think they are. Other creatures say they're smaller, slower, faster, older, young, more powerful, call the shots, make the air, and eat sunlight. Without them, nothing. It could be the eternal project of mankind to learn what forests have figured out.
As I live the years that remain in my life, i seeing to be guided by and accountable to both the ancestors and those who are yet to come. When the children's children look back to see how we handled this moment in this crisis, the impacts of which will profoundly shape the landscape of their lives and those of generations to come, what will they see? Will the choices we made show them that beloved them? That we thought of them? That we valued their lives over our convenience? We are being called into intergenerational solidarity, to link generation to generation to generation. We must rise all together that we may answer this calling with love. Amen.