Rachel LonbergDear ones,

I have happy news to share. The sermon I preached January 3 on the future of Unitarian Universalism won a sermon contest! I won a modest cash prize and the opportunity to preach the sermon and lead worship at the UUA MidAmerica Regional Gathering in Saint Paul, Minnesota in late April. I am thrilled.

Beyond getting to preach this sermon again, I am looking forward to this chance to gather together with others who practice our faith.

Why take time to gather with other Unitarian Universalists? It can powerful to see the work of the denomination writ large, to worship with thousands of others, to learn from the most innovative thinkers and leaders in our tradition, and to engage in debate about resolutions and policy statements. It is inspiring to learn about projects undertaken by other congregations and new ways others are being church together. If you haven’t yet made it to one of these larger gatherings, I encourage you to consider it.

The MidAmerica Region stretches across the northern middle section of the United States, from Kentucky to North Dakota. It includes about 200 congregations. Every year, representatives from these congregations gather for a weekend for worship, business, fellowship and learning opportunities. This year, the gathering is in Saint Paul, Minnesota from April 29 – May 1. The location rotates around the region each year. I’ll keep you posted about upcoming dates and locations.

This year, we are in the odd circumstance that the UUA General Assembly—the national gathering—is closer than the regional gathering. The UUA General Assembly takes place in Columbus, Ohio from June 22 to 26 this year. It is a rare year that the GA is such a short drive away. I hope you consider attending. The General Assembly is like the regional assembly but bigger and longer. It includes some of the best worship in our tradition and is hands-down the best place to buy things with flaming chalices emblazed on them. If you are planning to attend General Assembly this year, please let me know. We want to keep track of all the People’s people heading to Columbus. If this year won’t work for you, I hope you consider attending upcoming General Assemblies in New Orleans (2017), Kansas City (2018), and Spokane (2019). GA always begins around June 20.

I also encourage you to support our youth who are furiously fundraising to be able to attend GA this year. I attended GA when I was 15 and it was transformative for me. That experience deepened my commitment to our faith in a profound way. I hope our youth have a similar experience.

I recognize that not everyone can experience these gatherings. The barriers of cost and time away are significant. There are some scholarships available, but it remains an expensive endeavor.

It is possible to livestream portions of General Assembly, if that appeals to you. I do hope you consider attending once, if at all possible. It is wonderful to gather together with others who share our faith.

See you in church,

Rachel

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