Nancy Combs-Morgan 2018

Nancy Combs-Morgan, CRE-ML, Congregational Life Consultant, MidAmerica and Southern Regions of the UUA

As we embark on 2022, you may be feeling worn thin. Worn down with concern about you, your community, and the greater world. Yet, for this Welcome message, I bring you glad tidings. The good news that we are part of a transformative faith that brings with it an ongoing opportunity to “Re-New” ourselves, and, therefore, to help to renew our communities.

Hope emerges in the process of renewal. You may question whether there are any reasons to be hopeful, yet, as I often share with the young people, if you are bereft of hope, consider that which you care most about, and you will then find hope residing right next to that source of care. As whole, trustworthy, communities, perhaps, a guiding light for hope is in your commitment to be an embodied “whole” church where everyone, of every age, has an opportunity to receive, contribute, and grow. Yes, it is that simple, for by having a host of ways for every member of your community to receive and contribute, you invite all to bring their full selves, and to be open to opportunities to grow in faith. By contribute, I mean the widest scope of contribution, from sharing personal narratives; to finding time to help clean up the grounds of your congregation; to volunteering at a homeless shelter, or by donating to your annual stewardship campaign. Also, by not inviting our youngest members of our communities to contribute, we demonstrate a lack of regard for their need to fully participate – yes, I do believe that all should have embodied opportunity to receive and contribute!

Whether you are still in the throes of wrestling with being face to face and/or virtual, or both at the same time, there is a way to provide openings to the heart of your community. The opening comes with connection, soulful connection. Whether a 4-year-old, or an 84-year-old, they all need to know that they are loved and accepted for who they truly are, in their full selves. They also need an opportunity to give back and contribute to the community.

We are blessed to be entering this New Year, yet many feel the righteous weight of sorrow, loss, and challenge. What better time to provide moments of faithful respite in multiple ways for folx to receive and contribute, in the form of shared worship, engaged fellowship, and righteous justice making, and more.

Yes, we know that we don’t have everything figured out, but we do know that we are in a moment of “re-new-yearing,” which brings an opportunity for growth and renewal. Here is my virtual contribution to you and your community, an excerpt of a reading by Sylvia L. Howe:

We gather on the edge of the new year
saddened by our losses,
cherishing our joys,
aware of our failures,
mindful of days gone by.

We gather on the cusp of this new year
eager to begin anew,
hopeful for what lies ahead,
promising to make changes,
anticipating tomorrows and tomorrows.

We bid you welcome on this first Sunday of the new year.

I would love to hear from you, and your community, about how you are seeking to renew yourselves in love of our faith, your greater community, and the world!

In hope,
Nancy Combs-Morgan