For several years Mount Vernon Unitarian Church has participated with other Unitarian Universalist churches in North America in an innovative worship and program event. Using a three year cycle, we focus on one theme each month from September through May.
Our monthly theme is integrated into our religious community in many ways, usually including:
- Sunday Worship: On the first Sunday of each month, the minister focuses the entire Sunday worship on the theme, and integrates elements of the theme into the other Sunday services that same month. For church meetings, lay leaders are invited to do the same.
- Newsletter: There is a reflection on the theme on the website and suggested readings for further personal study.
- Electronic Media: A once-a-month email is sent to all church members for reflection.
- Committees and Community Programs: Suggested short readings are sent to all committee chairs and event leaders for use in opening meetings and events.
- Discussion: A discussion group meets monthly to further discuss the monthly themes, over light lunch; it is called “Big Topic, Small Lunch.” Look for publicity materials in the Commons.
- Small Group Ministry: Study sessions are given to facilitators for discussion and study.
- Religious Education: The theme is the focus of the “For All Ages” story in Sunday services and integrated in other ways into religious education programs.
Themes By Month
September – Community
October – Forgiveness
November – Gratitude
December – Hope
January – Justice
February – Love
March – Wholeness
Why are we doing this?
From the website of All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, OK:
“Mission: To engage and empower our congregations and members to think theologically and live their ministry and calling at home and in the wider world.
Vision: To provide North American Unitarian Universalist churches with a transformational approach to ministry that includes the entire congregation and equips their members with resources for living each day with faith, integrity and wisdom. Unitarian Universalists prepared with the language and religious understanding to play a substantial role as shapers of our country and its culture, and to engage in dialogue with people of other backgrounds regarding issues of faith, values, ethics and religion.” The hope is to help our members explore in greater depth, core theological questions and concerns through story, metaphor and symbols, and then applying them to daily life. The expectation is for members to personally decide the level and depth they want to engage a particular theme. The themes offer all generations a common set of stories, ideas and topics to be in conversation about each month. The story each month is from multiple sources including the Bible, famous Unitarians and Universalists or from other world religions and cultures. This way members attain greater biblical literacy and are given the opportunity to develop a theology informed by many faiths that is rooted in Unitarian Universalism.
Why is this model important?
Again, from All Souls in Tulsa, OK: “Offering a systematic approach to theological learning in churches gives people the resources for dealing with life’s challenges prior to encountering particular challenges. It is often difficult to suddenly try to develop a spiritual life and an understanding of the most important concepts for living when one is in the midst of dealing with a major life crisis. For example, it is often when someone receives a terminal diagnosis that they begin to explore death and the meaning of life or when they have been betrayed that they begin to try to understand forgiveness. However, when a person has a basic understanding of major life issues prior to encountering them and also has an ongoing spiritual practice, this allows the person to move through life’s travails with greater integrity, gracefulness and acceptance. With a theme-based approach, people develop resources for living throughout their lives, and at times when they are not in the midst of a crisis. Therefore, they carry these religious resources with them and are able to draw on a well-established religious understanding and perspective as they deal with the vicissitudes of life.”