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Assistant Minister's Column

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  have been a fan of The Reverend Dr. Rebecca Parker for a while. I am excited that she will be speaking to our church later this month (February 7-9). Her books have been available weekly at the book table. Both ministers have preached on her theology. We have sent out reminder emails, and used her text as readings for our Branches groups. If none of that has convinced you to attend this weekend workshop, let this article be another attempt to persuade you.

 

When Rebecca Parker was the keynote speaker at a conference I was attending in 2007, I hadn’t heard of her. I was a professional religious educator for a Unitarian Universalist church in Texas. I loved my job. I wanted to give to the children and youth of my church the same gift I was given growing up – a strong grounding and identity in Unitarian Universalism. I struggled, however, with articulation of Unitarian Universalist theology. I didn’t have the tools to explain to the teachers what it was, exactly, that we believed. I always fell back on the 7 principles, which can be a great example of covenant, but I never found robust enough to sustain faith.

 

The lecture I attended reoriented my understanding of Unitarian Universalist belief. Using historical context, insightful personal reflection, and powerful metaphors, she articulated a religious view that strengthened my religious identity. It built up my own sense of self, and helped me better know my faith. I was able to return to my congregation with the tools to effectively teach Unitarian Universalism to the next generation.

 

 There was one other thing about that weekend that sold me on her authenticity as a theologian. I’ve often seen key note speakers, famous folks, and alike, treat workers poorly. I got so used to seeing a behaviors that fell somewhere between aloof and rude that I was expecting no different from Rev. Parker.

 

During lunch at the retreat I was behind her in the lunch line. When the kitchen staff got her lunch order wrong, I was bracing for a rude and callous exchange. That wasn’t what I experienced at all. Rebecca Parker was kind and considerate. She smiled and made eye contact. She treated the kitchen worker as a human being, as an equal.

 

This exchange might seem small, but it was quite telling to me. It showed me an embodied theology - beliefs that dictated interaction. It was small, but it clearly showed how we can live in ways that make the world a better place.

 

I hope that you will see and hear her this month. I hope that you will be as touched by her lectures as I was.