Love and Service, by Chuck F.

Testimonial – Worship service March 1, 2020 Chuck F.

Good morning. I am Chuck F. I am a member of this church, and currently I serve on the Board in the role of president. 

  • This morning I have one of my biggest challenges in church – to speak to the whole congregation – – for under five minutes. 
  • This is difficult because of the topic – what MUUC means to me. MUUC is my spiritual home. 
  • What is a spiritual home? For me it is two important things: 
    1. A place to include myself, to build, to connect with community.
    2. A place to be of service. 
  • It’s important for my life in church to be consistent with my spiritual journey; I hope for that to be guided by faith, over fear. That includes the trust that grows from community. 
  • Church and worship don’t give me spirituality and spiritual growth, they host/facilitate it; it’s my responsibility. I think a lot of UU’s feel that way; I have, long before becoming a UU or coming here. 
  • My spiritual values are pretty simple, not hard to grasp for me: honesty, open mindedness, willingness; humility (accepting who and what I am, striving for what I may become); love. I recall a definition of love I learned long ago: extending one’s self to help the spiritual growth of another. 
  • From our recent focus on Grace and Resilience, I try to consider the reality of my experience vs. these ideals – to accept, and to have willingness, when it comes to my self-centeredness, my resentments – all the things that are a natural part of the human spiritual condition. 
  • The spiritual tradition from which I come has been said to boil down to: love and service. 
  • In church, or anywhere, ANY service is a growth experience and builds community. 
  • Today is Giving Sunday, when we focus on our contributions. I hope my contributions are guided by the church’s mission and by UU Principles. 
  • Sometimes service here is providing skills and experience we have. Sometimes it is a growth experience, trying something new and connecting better with new people. I’ve been here a long time and served in lots of ways; you’ve probably heard me say that most of that is things in which I have no expertise. That’s fine – we need a balance. 
  • Sometimes service directly advances our mission and feels very fulfilling and rewarding. Sometimes it is operational, and we do it just because it needs doing. I try to remember that all service here is valuable, and it is all spiritual. 
  • We do what we can – we can’t do everything. As individuals, and as a congregation. 
  • My family’s pledge is guided by two apsects: 
    1. The information that the pledge committee so skillfully, artfully, succinctly provides to the whole congregation. We all have the information about what it takes to run the church, what is a typical/average pledge, and so on.
    2. Personal considerations that are known only to us, and for which no one else has responsibility.
  • That is – we focus on things for which our congregation all share responsibility, and things for which our family have responsibility. A balance. 
  • Our pledge has gone up, and down, over the years. Periods of unemployment, changes in finances, moving from one income to two, to one and a half – all these things have been on the personal side of our pledge decision. Recently, the sticker prices of colleges and boosting our 529 plan have had a role. We have not decided yet, for this year. We will consider the common information that everyone should consider. We will have conversations. 
  • I should point out that some of the changes I mentioned can, and for us have, happened mid-year. The pledge is not a contact; it’s a way we help the church plan our budget. 
  • This year, our church will resume the practice of stewardship conversations. That is a significant undertaking, and the pledge committee have decided to make it more achievable by focusing on 1?3 of the congregation at a time. From my experience on both ends of these conversations, I would say they can be among the richer experiences in church life. They focus on: love and service. 
  • I would like to say in conclusion that I have hopes for our church. I hope we can develop a right relations team and a behavioral covenant that will guide us each to focus on our own accountability and speak for ourselves, and to seek to better understand others. I hope we can undertake a strategic plan, and probably a capital campaign. I hope we can continue the great focus our mission has got, from Team Ministries. I look forward to learning about people’s ideas in coffee hour today. And to picking up our pledge packet.