The Rev. David Williams, had called me a couple days before the gathering to invite Foothills and me to join the meeting. I had first talked to him right after the Charleston shooting; I reached out to him as a pastor of a primarily African American church in Fort Collins, expressing my grief, fear, and solidarity in response to such a terrible act. We talked about our roles as pastors and preachers – him in a primarily black church, me in a primarily white church – in a time like this, and how to be a voice of both comfort and challenge as we address and seek to transform the continued presence of racism and white supremacy.
I was humbled, and honored, that a few weeks later Pastor David reached back out to me to invite us to share in the Prayer meeting. And I was humbled and honored to offer a prayer. But it was that moment of embrace that gave me a better understanding and a clearer vision for how we as a Unitarian Universalist congregation are called to live into this vision of courageous love in our own community.
Which is to say – the provocative proposals team wrote this statement about our leadership, but in that moment, I realized our leadership simply took the form of showing up, being present, and following the lead of others. It meant stepping outside our comfort zone, praying in a way we don’t usually pray, singing songs we don’t usually sing – but doing so with love, and willingness, and good will. It was powerful, and as I said before, it gave me a glimpse of our potential powerful future.
One of my colleagues, the Rev. Sean Dennison, recently challenged a gathering of UU ministers to consider what it would mean if Unitarian Universalists were known most of all as the “ones who show up.” The ones who show up with open hearts, and open minds, with willing hands and generous spirits. The ones who show up gratefully, humbly. I took a note at Sean’s question – not because this was a new idea – but because I recognized that this is something we already do pretty well that we could build on, and become known for pretty easily. Coincidentally, when I had first talked to Pastor David I had told him, if you ever need someone to show up for you, call me – call Foothills. We’ll be there. We’ll follow your lead.
If you were one of those who helped make my promise come true last Wednesday, thank you. And if you couldn’t make it – don’t worry, there will be lots more chances for us to show up and lead through partnership, humility and generosity – for us to further the reach of love all throughout our community, and in our own lives. Isn’t it a beautiful vision?