Our monthly themes at the Unitarian Church of Lincoln follow a sequence put together by Soul Matters, and shared among Unitarian Universalist Congregations across the country. For the 2023-24 congregational year, our themes highlight language from the proposed new Article II of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s bylaws.
This month, we are looking at a sentence from early in the proposal:
“We draw from our heritages of freedom, reason, hope, and courage, building on the foundation of love.”
I believe the folks that put together the Soul Matters themes chose to highlight “The Gift of Heritage” because it heritage is such a challenging and contested concept. To claim, as a faith, that we have a particular heritage to draw on, is a source of strength, but also a place of privilege.
Heritage is challenging because we do not get to choose what it is, and yet many of us take pride in our heritage. My family name is Scottish, but what does it mean to be proud to ‘be from’ a place that I have never lived, and that has little impact on who I am? Pride in what we have inherited is a privilege for some of us, and ‘heritage’ has some ugly connotations.
This month in worship, we are going to try to untangle some of what it means to be a faith community and people with heritages. What does it mean to acknowledge the fullness of what we have inherited, the good and the bad, while claiming the best of it? What does it look like to assume that we can and must do better than generations before us, while also appreciating that our ancestors were fully human, all capable of beautiful and terrible things? If Unitarian Universalism claims our heritages of freedom, reason, hope, and courage, how do we live into those values, and pass them on to the next generations?
Rev. Oscar Sinclair serves as the Settled Minister for The Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska.