I was in a conversation recently talking about the fact that Carlton Pearson is going to be up around my way for an installation service at the end of March. After talking about the fact that the service is going to be at a really small, out-of-the-way church, the conversation turned to question why, in heaven’s name, some UU church in one of our major urban centers hasn’t snapped this man up?
For goodness sake, why aren’t we taking advantage of the opportunity that is staring us right in the face?
Carlton Pearson would set us on the national stage. He has a following. He crosses barriers that traditional UUism wouldn’t dream of going over. So why in the hell aren’t we trying to get this man a church?
Why is the church that he’s ministering to Christ Universal Temple (established by the legend Rev. Johnnie Colemon) and not First Unitarian in Schaumburg? (before you comment that there is no Unitarian church in Schaumburg, I know that. Chicago is in my home district. I’m just making a point.) Granted, I know some of the reason he’s at Christ Universal is that he’s being compensated well, but that ain’t all the reason.
This man is more connected with Universalism in the public mind than we are. Why aren’t we taking advantage of the this? Are we really that scared of thinking out of the box?
Do you know what the aim of your Sunday School is?
What is the content of your Sunday School?
What is the role of the Teacher?
What is the role of the Learner?
In what environment does it happen?
How do you evaluate the success of the program?
Rev. Scott Wells, over at his blog boyinthebands, has started a minor firestorm with what he terms the five things that will not appear at his new Universalist church start-up in Washington, D.C.
A big part of the conversation has been about Sunday School. Since I spent a good part of last August asking questions about Sunday School, I thought I would repost the first two.
Is It Time To Bury Sunday School?
For those of you who know the history of Sunday School, this question probably won’t strike you as too odd. For those of you unfamiliar with the history of Sunday School, I’ve probably just confirmed every imaginable bad dream in your head about what seminary makes people think.
That said though, is Sunday School a good idea? Or an idea that had really good intentions and purposes when it was started, but became institutionalized and is really just something that we do now just because that’s the way it’s always been done?
Since I keep talking about the things that the black church taught me, I guess I should mention the one thing that it taught me without using words.
Church IS different.
Church is not Sunday afternoon in the park with George. It is not a day at the mall. It is not a day at the playground…or the beach…or hanging out with friends at the neighborhood cafe.
Church is not like any other place that you go to or experience in your life. And since it’s not like any other place or experience, you should treat it like it is different.
The reason I said that “if I could have one rule” it would be about not wearing blue jeans in church is because I believe that clothing conveys an attitude. And the way I see too many people dressing for church conveys, to me, the attitude that they don’t care about the time and attention and effort that any number of people have put into creating that worship experience. What would the parishioners at the church where I’m interning think I felt about them if I showed up on any given Sunday in my overalls that have paint stains on them, a frayed t-shirt and my everyday tennis shoes with my hair barely combed? (if any of them are reading this I hope they know that that situation will never happen) So if it’s ok for parishioners to come to church having paid little attention or intention to their dress, what does that say to those of us who are trying to create a truly worshipful experience? Don’t the clothes you wear to church deserve the same time, attention and respect that you give to the clothes you wear to have lunch with your friends after church?
I’ll clarify this a little more…I am only talking about the hour to hour-and-a-half that you spend in church on Sunday (or Saturday for those of you who do church on Saturday). If you’re coming to the church on Tuesday evening or Thursday afternoon–that’s a different story. You’re there for a different reason. But Church is different. And I don’t apologize for thinking that it’s different or for hoping that other people would see it as different too.
(All my thoughts about clothes and church are flexible. I’m not asking anybody to be decked out to the nines with the winter most of the country is having.)
Name a deceased African-American Unitarian Universalist who isn’t a minister.
Let’s see how many people can name one non-living (deceased) African-American Unitarian Universalist.