When something is right, speak out! When something is wrong, speak out louder!

 I’ve been checking out the All Souls page on Facebook recently, and, as I am somewhat puzzled and troubled by some of what I read there, I thought I would take time to put in my own two cents. 

First, let me say that I hope that All Souls does work its way towards being a loving community again.  And let me applaud those who are working hard to that end, and to those who have stepped up to the difficult job of crafting worship over the past months. 

That said, I have to say I am troubled by those who still seem to be deaf to the concerns of fellow members.  The resignation of Jill Jarvis, Kathy Reigelman, and Vern Barnett from All Souls should serve as something of a wake-up call.  These three are ministers in our denomination and, as such, take no step lightly.  If I were a betting man, and I’m not, I’d bet that their actions were intended as a wake-up call.  All have been affiliated with our church for years – they did not leave easily, nor did they leave (I believe) without considerable meditation on the matter.  I have to wonder if their departure was due to what they saw as a cavalier treatment of Lee Devoe, our most recent interim minister.  Let me go on record that I thought the whole matter was handled very badly.  Some members of the board, working in collusion with members who felt great hostility towards Rev. Devoe (and some may have had legitimate gripes), went about trying to find some way to get rid of Rev. Devoe.  This was not working in good faith with Rev. Devoe, nor was it working in good faith on behalf of those in the congregation (the majority, I’d be willing to bet) who were satisfied with Rev. Devoe’s performance.  Starting from such a position, there was no way Rev. Devoe could succeed – it was only a matter of time until she failed.  I firmly believe that any minister, in such a circumstance, including Rev. Bragg, of happy memory, would also meet with failure.  And, in so acting, the reputation of All Souls took a just drubbing in the UU World. 

There are some in the church, a vocal minority, who were behind this.  I would hope that those who were involved in acting badly would come forward and ‘fess up to the congregation.  I think that honesty is the best policy, and that, as members of a Unitarian church, we owe honesty to one another.  As a former Catholic, I also think that confession is good for one.

I do not expect that to happen.  Maybe it will – that would be a very nice surprise. 

As I do want All Souls to succeed, and to have a great year with the next Interim, I’d like to make the following suggestions.  Those of you who still feel aggrieved, find a way lovingly, but honestly, to voice those concerns.  I feel that those who argue for letting it go have not been the ones who have been hurt, or have not witnessed something wrong in this past year;  some who did act badly would like the matter to go away for their own reasons.  In any event, I think those people are wrong.  I think that we do no favor to let our hurts go unnamed.  In addition, if you stay at All Souls for the coming year – be vigilant.  Some people this past year acted in a way that is not consonant with “standing on the side of love.”  My guess is, if they don’t like the next Interim, they’ll act out again.  Don’t let them!  You can stop them, and All Souls can be the church we want it to be – an open place, a place of celebration, and a beacon for truth. 

Some may see my words as another instance of dragging up dead issues, but, so long as these issues fester, they’ll only seem to be dead.  Willful amnesia may make it easier to put on a happy face, but it is not being honest with ourselves or one another. 



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