Service of the Living Tradition: ‘I will look and see you’
Thursday evening’s Service of the Living Tradition, one of the central worship services at the UUA’s annual General Assembly, honored ordained ministers, credentialed religious educators, and credentialed congregational musicians at the beginnings—and ends—of their ministries.
The Rev. Diana Heath—wife of the Rev. Dr. William J. Metzger, one of 22 UU ministers who died in the past year—lit the chalice. Photos of each deceased minister appeared on the plenary hall screens as UUA President Peter Morales read their names.
Twenty-eight ministers were honored on their retirement; thirteen of the retiring ministers attended the service.
The Rev. Paige Getty, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia, Md., preached a sermon about the risks of love. She drew on phrases from The Velveteen Rabbit, a book her four-year-old loves to hear her read: “Real isn’t how you are made . . . You become . . . It takes a long time.”
“This love is about making a choice,” she said, “a choice to turn toward one another, to say, ‘I will look at you. I want to know you. I will try to see you for you. I will not turn away from you, ignore you, pretend you don’t exist or don’t have needs or aren’t legitimately my human sibling. I will look and see you.”
She urged Unitarian Universalists to risk loving those whose lives, values, and personalities do not make us comfortable. “We are Unitarian Universalists because we long to matter, to make a difference in our world—in our own lives and in the live of others. And so when we turn away—or, at least, don’t turn toward—one another, we do so at the expense of our own longings, at the expense of our religious commitment.”
“We have big plans, you and I,” she said, “plans to transform the world. If we are to succeed, we must transform the world one life at a time. As our relationships grow in strength and in depth, so does our commitment to one another—a commitment that multiplies with each real connection we make.”
At the offering, the Rev. Richard Nugent, UUA director of church staff finances, said that the UUA’s Living Tradition Fund had provided $150,000 in emergency financial assistance to ministers and other religious professionals in the past year. He invited generous donations to replenish the fund.
Forty-seven ministers were recognized for achieving final fellowship. Two religious educators were recognized as Credentialed Religious Educators–Masters Level; three religious educators were recognized as Credentialed Religious Educators. Two musicians were recognized as Credentialed Music Leaders. Fifty new ministers were granted preliminary fellowship.
Musicians Beth Syverson, Leon Dunkley, Dana Decker, and David Stanoch performed with the Singers of the Living Tradition, composed of UU ministers and religious leaders and their family members.
(The full text of the service, including the names of the ministers, religious educators, and musicians honored, is available at UUA.org.)