Friday, March 19, 2010

Standing on the Side of Love at Candler School of Theology

At Candler School of Theology myself and fellow UU students have formed a Unitarian Universalist Student association. To be recognized, one often needs to organize and unify the efforts and action of individuals. We wanted to establish our presence at Candler and set a precedent of welcoming for future UU seminarians. Though some of us have sang in choir and attended Chapel, there has not been a Unitarian Universalist Service at Candler's chapel since 1992. We saw this as something that needed to be corrected.

So we gathered together local ministers and students and brainstormed on a service. The theme of Standing on the Side of love quickly became an apparent choice. With the Standing on the Side of Love campaign, we knew had a topic that would be prophetic and speak to our fellow students and faculty.

The central theme of Universalism calls to a loving God that would not condemn her creation to be separated from fundamental reconciliation with the divine. Unitarian Francis David said "That we must not think alike to love alike!" There is a strong history in both strands of standing up for the rights of slaves, workers, and women.

We had this service on March 18th in Canon Chapel with local UU's attending, along with a good number Candler seminary students and professors. The service was split between students and primarily local clergy graduates from Candler. Myself and a graduate, Lynn Hopkins, did a reflection. Rev. Marti Keller did the central homily and called us to understand our connection to standing up in the face of violence. The convicted voices of Rev. Rhett Butler, Rev. Joan Armstrong, and Rev. Roy Reynolds rang out in the meditation, chalice lighting, and call to worship. Duncan Teague, a current student, sent us off with the holding of hands and hearts. We emphasized our heretical UU history that has always puts always on the leading edge of questioning and standing on the side of justice. We spoke to our spirituality of interconnectedness and the irrefutable human and spiritual connection that calls us to stand up and out. There was a rich connection between the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta and its history of racial justice and ties to Martin Luther King, Jr.

We sang Spirit of Life and of course, Standing on the Side of Love. I was proud at how many of my fellow students raised their hands, when I asked if there were other heretics in the Chapel. We built a bridge with that service, and hopefully a relationship in justice and love.

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