Every August, the Unitarian Church of Lincoln’s Board of Trustees gathers for a retreat, to deepen our relationships with each other, reflect on the year that has been, and set goals for the coming congregational year. Each year is an opportunity to step back and get a sense of the ‘big picture’ for the church, and then to ground that picture in our shared Unitarian Universalist faith.
In this coming retreat, there is much to reflect on and much to look forward to. The last three congregational years have been largely driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the pandemic is still with us, we have reached a point with vaccines, masking, and other mitigation measures that I hope it will become part of the background context of our community, rather than the driving force.
Even while responding to COVID in the last several years, UCL has grown our relationships with other communities and organizations in Lincoln. From the Niskithe Prayer Camp and our Summer Programming, to the DART community organizing initiative, our participation in Beloved Conversations, and our continued work with Planned Parenthood to ensure reproductive rights are protected in Nebraska, we have a lot to be proud of – and a lot to build on.
My first day in this office was five years ago this week, and I remember being told, that first year, that the mission statement of the Unitarian Church of Lincoln was to ‘show up.’ I confess, I thought for the first few years I was here that this was overly broad and poorly-defined for a mission statement, but I’ve found during the pandemic that it is a accurate and aspirational description of who we are as a community. Who is the Unitarian Church of Lincoln? Those folks who keep showing up at everything.
When we gather at the Board Retreat this month, we’ll be gathering to do some concrete governance work, narrowing down priorities to a concise set of goals, thinking in terms of five year plans and budgets. But fundamentally, the work is about this: how do we encourage and develop the enormous strength of this community? How do we help you show up, as Unitarian Universalists, in a world that needs to hear your voice? How do we create a community that brings new folks in, and asks them, in turn, to show up?
Rev. Oscar Sinclair serves as the Settled Minister for The Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska.