Why then are there only 211,000 adherents in North America, according to a USA Today article in October 2012, especially when over 600,000 of U.S. adults identified as Unitarian Universalist in the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey? It’s a complex question with multiple, nuanced responses. My experiences in both staff and lay leadership positions have taught me that the answer lies in two areas of struggle: too much dualism and not enough love.
I play in a band called THIN AIR. This 5-piece ensemble draws from an extensive vocal and instrumental repertoire to create improvised music out of “thin air.” On the surface, this might sound like chaotic fun, but in fact, it’s a practice of intense collaboration that holds many lessons for life beyond music. Collaboration, liked improvised music, can be marvelous and beautiful— more textured and complex, more available talent and instruments, unexpected and lush surprises, and more.
“Mining, Minding, and Making Stories” is an essay included in “In the Interim,” a book on the unique challenges and opportunities for both congregations and ministers during interim ministry, edited by Keith Kron and Barbara Child, and published by Skinner House Books.
So how do two people with such different backgrounds make it work? Well, Eric and I are still figuring it out and still talking about it. But we agree on one thing in particular…you’ve got to support each other’s personal growth even when it scares you. Let me say that again…you have to actively support your partner’s dreams and aspirations, even when, especially when you are fearful about what those changes might mean for you personally.
Chant for Worship or Performance
Sheet music download and example audio files available.
A song for sending forth, this SAT(B) or SSA(A) ditty is a gospel-style chant that can be performed acapella or tricked out with fuller instrumentation.
“Let us go out, and light up the dark.
Let us go out, bring joy to each heart.
Let us go out with indifference destroyed.
Let us go out with joy!”
You are your first, best instrument!
Your breath and voice… your hands and fingers,,, your legs and feet… you need nothing more to make incredible and beautiful music.
We’ll stomp, sing, move, and clap in joyous exploration. Come let yourself BE sound. No experiences required.
Discover your OWN music in this unique workshop that explores music-making as a profound and wildly fun means of self expression. Through simple games and exercises, you’ll discover the sounds and rhythms, and yes–the magic–that is inside of you.
No previous experience in improvisation or music is needed…only the willingness to laugh and let
Lift Every Voice and Sing — Saturday Workshop and Sunday Worship Service
Working in close partnership with your staff, I’ll design a singing experience that increases comfort with singing on Sunday morning. The workshop will be joyous, accessible to all skill levels and most ages, and seek to liberate people to be fully authentic in their singing. Movement and hand-percussion will be incorporated … this will be fun!
“There are no “unmusical” people, only those with no musical experience.”
(from the Music For People Bill of Rights)
I offer workshops, one day intensives, and weekend retreats that offer people the chance to explore their own capacity for making and creating music on the spot. Lessons spill over into daily living, because what is life but an improvisation?
A contemplative worship service and homily created for the NOVO worship series at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis.
I love trees. I love them in every season, and particularly now in the winter, when we can see their naked supplication. How I marvel at their beauty … the bark smooth… or rough and deeply grooved … the branches uniform and orderly like the yellow wood … or like the sycamore, whose splotched limbs squiggle with random abandon. Since I was very small, trees have been teaching me, guiding me … talking to me. I would spend hours finding, climbing, and sitting in trees on the campus of Franklin College, in Franklin, Indiana.
A sermon presented in January of 2012 to the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
“We are one. We are always one when we sing together. There are so few opportunities to sing together these days.”
“And we WANT to rejoice, we WANT and NEED to liberate this wholeness … and whether your sense of that invisible world is dreams and visions or the it’s heart of God , we crave an embodied encounter with it.”
Homily presented at a worship service.
A quote by Alice Walker got me thinking…”They don’t come to church to find God,” she says, “they come to church to share God.” But how can we share God, or our ideas of the divine (or lack thereof), if we don’t talk and explore these ideas with each other? How can we find the common ground between us if we don’t articulate this particularity to one another, heart to heart? How can we effectively bridge these four camps of thought and practice when we gather as a whole community for work and worship?