Minister’s Message for May, 2023

, But Here’s Why It’s Worth The Trouble” offered on April 2, 2023. You can watch the full sermon on Chalice’s YouTube channel.

One of the hardest aspects of community life is what happens when we disagree. What happens when we disagree with something that has happened, what happens when we disagree with a decision that’s been made, what happens when we disagree with each other.

The history of this congregation, Chalice, includes a time that people disagreed with each other so strongly that the church split, and two congregations existed for a period of time, and then those two congregations eventually came back together to form this congregation. Through that process, we learned what happens when we disagree with each other and can’t resolve it. And having split, we experienced that neither of the two congregations thrived on their own. We learned that we are better together than we are split apart.

It’s easy to take that Big Picture view of things that happened a few decades ago, but it’s much harder when you are the someone who is in conflict with someone else.

We arrive in religious community happy to have found a group of like-minded people, happy to make some new friends, to enjoy the Sunday gathering together, relieved to feel less alone in the world.

It takes some time, but eventually it becomes clear that there are some people you like more than others. As you get more engaged with church activities, you will find that there are people here you disagree with about important things. You will find there are situations you can’t control. You will find that sometimes there are outcomes you don’t want.

Being in community together—any kind of community, not just religious community—being in community together is finding a balance between the needs and wants of the individual and the needs and wants of the collective. None of us here get to have everything just the way we want it to be, not even me, not even the president of the congregation.

I am talking about religious community right now, but I could be talking about the community that is formed between friends or among neighbors. None of us get to have everything our own way….

Because we EXPECT there to be conflict and disagreement in our communities. We are diverse people, often with strong opinions. Our goal is not to avoid conflict, our goal is to stay in relationship with each other to resolve conflict. None of us get to have everything our own way, and how we sort out our feelings about that is actually really important.

This is why we have at Chalice, like many Unitarian Universalist congregations, a Conflict Resolution Policy and a Good Relations Team to work with congregants who want help in addressing conflicts in our community.

So not only is this a place where you may eventually be in disagreement with someone else, but we encourage and expect you to work with that person to resolve your disagreement. Either that, or you set your disagreement aside, not so you can pretend to be friends with someone you’re not friends with, but you need to find a set of agreements that allow you to co-exist in community together.

Blessings and love to you,