One of my favorite things about the Unitarian Universalist ministry is its commandment, both spoken and unspoken, to always continue learning and growing in spirit, practice, and intellect.
These next two weeks, I will be taking the opportunity to do all of the above, as I engage in several conferences and continuing education opportunities.
November 2-4, I will be in Hot Springs, Arkansas on a spiritual retreat with 7 other early career clergy, also graduates of my undergraduate alma mater Hendrix College, exploring what it means spiritually and practically to be religious leaders engaged in public life. In 2014, Hendrix received a Lilly Foundation grant to create an Institute for Clergy Civic Engagement to educate clergy and lead them in reflecting deeply on their role leading in congregations engaged with the issues of the day. I am honored to be a member of their first cohort of fellows, and I am excited that the program will support me in growing in this area, as our congregation continues to light a liberal moral beacon for Mid-Missouri.
November 4-6, I will be stopping in Springfield, Missouri, on my way back up from Arkansas, to take part in an exciting new new theology conference, Subverting the Norm, which will be engaging with radical political theologies, and where one of my theological idols, Catherine Keller, will be giving a keynote. Many of you have heard me preaching some of Keller’s ideas, and it is an intellectually and spiritually exciting opportunity for me to hear from her in person. I am certain the ideas gathered at this conference will also pop up in my preaching and thinking!
Lastly, I’ll be heading to Pere Marquette State park just outside of St. Louis from November 9-12 for my annual Unitarian Universalist study group, Prairie Group. Prairie Group is an historic group devoted to “study thought as it affects religion, religious experience, the church, in any relevant aspect, science, philosophy, political science, history and any other. It has a special interest in worship and the church and its ministry.” It was founded in the mid-20th century by esteemed colleagues and thinkers in Unitarian Universalism, including giant of 20th century UU and liberal religious thought, James Luther Adams. Attending this group each year, I always feel that truly we stand on the shoulders of giants. This year, for the first time, I will be delivering a paper, which I have prepared, entitled “From Tethers of Captivity to Roots of Flourishing: Collective Sin and Mutual Struggle in the Web that Connects Us” Wish me luck!
I am so grateful for this rich bounty of learning opportunities and the support of a congregation that helps me to take advantage of them. I know they will enhance my scholarly ministry and give me practical tools, intellectual invigoration, and spiritual renewal to bring back to our work together!