Second Annual Question Box Sunday

by BC

For our second annual Question Box Sunday, we had a plethora of amazing questions.  Most of them were DIFFERENT than last year!  There were some strong themes amongst the questions this year, so, I’m going to do something a little different with the answers.  One or two of the “blocs” of the questions will become a sermon or series of sermons sometime this church year.  I will be sure to note that the inspiration for the sermon(s) was a Question Box Sunday question.  There are also a few questions I’m going to answer outright as they feel timely.  The rest of these questions will be answered sometime throughout this church year – I will endeavor to answer blocs of them and, as I did this year, send a compiled list of answers to you all before next year’s Question Box Sunday.

Question Box Sunday

Questions Answered During the Service

  • How much money has the church saved this year on electricity because of the solar panels?
  • Who is your favorite historical UU figure and why?
  • In the event that there is a gathering downtown that promotes fear and not love of our community neighbors — instead of a “counter-protest” that accentuates division, might there be a  tentative plan for community-oriented friends to gather at that time in the Kentucky room of the downtown library to see how we might help one another learn of our shared Kentucky roots?
  • What is the best way to approach someone who thinks different politically, socially, etc?
  • Why are people so afraid to talk about sex?
  • What church group makes sure our church is accessible?
  • What is your favorite book and why?
  • If you could only have one Principle to live your church life by, what would it be?
  • What steps do you think we can take to become a fair share congregation like we once were?
  • What is the most rewarding part of your job as a minister?

Evil/Theodicy & Hope (These questions will become a sermon or sermon series this church year.)

  • Where in the world will we find the fortitude to be open and loving through the year?
  • What do UUs say about keeping hope when life is dark?
  • How do UUs respond to the existence of evil in the world?
  • What is the cause of evil in the world?  What is the cure?
  • How do we keep hope alive in the face of evil?
  • What does Unitarian Universalism say about theodicy? Why does evil exist?
  • How do you cultivate an open heart with people who are hate-filled?
  • How can we best fight or reduce the increasing hate and violence in our society without contributing to it?

Future Sermon Questions (These questions will become sermons or sermon series this church year.)

  • As our minister, what are you doing to comfort the afflicted and especially to afflict the comfortable in regard to the ableism present in this congregation — in our language, in our music, in our renovations, in our entire system here?
  • Explain a little bit about Bhagavad Gita Hinduism.
  • How does a Unitarian know what to do next?  Other religions have clearer guidelines for “leveling up.”  Does it exist for UUs yet or do we need to make it?
  • What do you think about the controversy that led to the resignation of past UUA President Peter Morales?

A Handful to Answer Right Now

  • What’s this I hear about Worship Arts?
    • You heard right!  We have a Worship Arts Team that is starting to take shape that will look, not only at Sunday Service, but our buildings and grounds through the lens of art.  Want to get involved?  Be in touch.  And keep your eyes open for some of the things coming our way thanks to this initiative!
  • When will the training for a peaceful demonstration take place?
    • I am waiting to hear back from the gentleman that will be leading the training on potential dates that will work for him.  It will likely be a Sunday afternoon and open to several community organizations and/or churches.
  • Can we have more parties and music events?
    • Yes!  Did you know that we are having an Emma’s Revolution concert here at UUCL this year?  We are open to ideas — but we are also open to volunteers to help make these happen.  What do you have in mind?  Who can help you make this happen?
  • Why won’t you let [name] preach their sermon on [topic]?
    • Unitarian Universalists believe that the minister has “free and untrammeled” control over the pulpit.  This tradition extends back to our Puritan roots and continues to this day.  It is the minister’s responsibility to ensure, as best as possible, the quality of Sunday services as well as to “protect the pulpit,” should there be the possibility of a sermon/service/topic that would hurt the credibility of the church, needlessly trigger or offend the congregation, or be incongruent with our values or our expectations as a religious institution.  Access to the pulpit is a privilege in our tradition, which minister’s train for extensively, and is not a right.  Minister’s are also called to be the spiritual leaders of a congregation, which means that they are free to cast their vision of leadership from the pulpit and curate what compliments that vision as far as guest worship leaders are concerned.  UUCL voted to call me as their minister in support of this tradition.  That being said, I work with a group of dedicated lay leaders to provide pulpit supply in my absence.  Shared ministry is a good and right thing — but that does not prevent the potential for “no” to be an answer.  I am happy to work with people on topics that they want to hear from the pulpit, but we need to be clear that anything spoken from the pulpit, in our tradition, is a reflection of the ministry to which you called me.  I approach this responsibility granted to me by this congregation with the utmost sincerity.
  • Why do I feel like crying when I’m here?
    • Give me a call or send an e-mail.  Let’s talk.
  • Given the last two Sunday sermons on lay leadership and service, what areas at UUCL need leadership or help to do the work needed here?
    • We always need more leadership in religious exploration.  Our DRE, Stacey Stone, does an extraordinary amount of work just to keep the program running.  It would be of immense help if people would volunteer to take on the simpler, but time consuming, tasks for the RE program.
    • Secondly, we need folks willing to commit to be Pastoral Associates — extensions of our pastoral care program that provide a listening presence in times of need.  There is no fixing, saving, or advising in this work — just presence.  This would give folks an outlet should they not feel it needs the minister’s attention or if they don’t need pastoral counseling.
    • Covenant groups.  We need leadership in our small group ministry program.  Our church is of a size where it is important that we get to know people in small groups.  All we need are trained facilitators (the training is easy), we provide the curriculum, and we need folks willing to commit to be a part of these groups.

Theology & Religion

  • Are there any religions or belief systems that the Unitarian Universalists absolutely don’t accept or believe in?
  • Do you (or UUs) at large believe that questions about God, morality, the afterlife, etc are answerable in principle?  Do you believe that answers exist or have a truth value to them?
  • Which science fiction series franchise best embodies or represents the UU principles?
  • In our current social/economic situation, growth is necessary to maintain stability and the hope of equity, but this cannot continue without environmental damage and resource depletion.  How should the Church address this dilemma?
  • What happens to UU people in the afterlife (both good or bad people)?
  • What is Bodhi day?
  • What is Diwali?
  • What are the High Holy Days?
  • Where and when did the Rev. Dr. A. Powell Davies serve?
  • What is a good 30-second elevator speech on “What do UUs believe?”
  • How does an atheist fit into UUism in general and UUCL in particular?
  • If an infinite amount of monkeys with an equally infinite amount of typewriters could eventually write the works of Shakespeare, given an infinite amount of time, could an infinite amount of William Shakespeare’s with an equally infinite amount of monkeys eventually invent the typewriter, given an infinite amount of time?

Ethics & Practice

  • How can I help my children keep an open mind about religion and spirituality when I have family and society pushing their ideas and beliefs on them?
  • How do we teach ourselves and allow ourselves to give our heart and lives to another after being hurt doing so in the past?
  • What’s the most important thing we can do for those closest to us (family, spouse, etc)?
  • How does a UU pray?  Do you think a UU should, could, might pray?  Even a humanist UU?
  • Just going on – putting one foot in front of the other – why is this called being brave?

Diversity/Accessibility/Welcoming

  • How can we help UUs be more welcoming to other UUs who have different beliefs from them about God, Christ, the soul, spirit, etc?
  • How do those of us who are slightly more structured than some of our peers cope/deal/be at peace with the lack of structure required to accept diversity?
  • What concrete actions are we doing to promote “Black Lives Matter?”
  • What is UUCL doing to increase diversity?
  • Why haven’t we done a workshop on understanding African Americans?
  • How do we as a congregation include those who cannot attend services in our community?
  • Do you feel UUCL could be more inclusive? How can we, as a congregation, be more inclusive to all people, no matter the category?

UUCL Specific

  • What does the church need most right now?
  • How would you encourage families to contribute to UUCL who can’t afford to donate much money?
  • Is it time for UUCL to become overtly political?
  • How do we, the people, get the word out to the community about what UU has to offer without being pushy or proselytizing?

Personal & Ministry Specific

  • Have you read, “This Non-Violent Stuff Will Get You Killed,” about the history of armed resistance that accompanied the non-violent civil rights movement?  What do you think about the need for a diversity of tactics in the fight for justice? (e.g. Nazi punching in particular)
  • Do you believe in situational ethics?
  • What are some non-religious figures that affect your spirituality or morality?
  • Do you personally believe in an afterlife?
  • Do you ever lose faith?  If so, how do you get it back?
  • If you could travel back in time to five minutes of history, what would it be and why?
  • What’s the best thing about this church and Lexington, to you?
  • What faith beliefs were you raised with and how have they influenced your beliefs now?
  • Dealer’s Choice:  Answer the Question you most wish the congregation would ask.