Cultivating an Abandoned Place

Here is an article from UU World magazine about a new friend of mine.

Ron is the director of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship.  His ministry in Turley, Oklahoma bears some resemblance to our community vision at St. James Mission in Utica.  I’m getting to know Ron via Facebook and had one phone conversation with him.  A lovely guy committed to a unique ministry.  This article is a couple of years old, but that doesn’t diminish its fabulous-ness in the least.

From the article:

Robinson, who identifies himself as a Unitarian Universalist Christian, and who is executive director of the UU Christian Fellowship, a denominational organization of UU Christians, said that in Turley he presents “classic Universalist Christianity.” He added, “It’s definitely a liberation theology—the three ‘R’s: relocating to where people are struggling, redistribution of goods and justice, and reconciliation. We do the first two pretty well and we need to be a lot better at the third.”

He said the Unitarian part of Unitarian Universalism “doesn’t fit as well culturally with what we’re trying to do because people here identify it more with wealth and education. Universalism gives us our best connection.” He added that when people in Turley press him whether he is Christian, he says, “‘Yes, but you don’t have to be a Christian to be in our church.’ Then if people have more questions, I talk about following Jesus and ‘deeds, not creeds.’ People get that. If they ask, ‘Do you believe in heaven and hell?’ I respond, ‘I trust God’s love is for all time. The details we don’t know. You’re free to believe in heaven and stay and work with us.’”

Could a church become missional in a place like Turley without a Christian persona? Robinson believes it could. “A lot of the missional churches are not claiming Christianity today because of the ways it has been identified as bigoted, boring, critical, or irrelevant, and so many churches are now casting their faith in terms like ‘following Jesus’ rather than connecting to an institutional church. I think that question about whether you’re Christian, particularly for the younger generation, is becoming less important. Having said that, I do think that what you do have to have is a sense of the transcendent—a belief in something beyond yourself even if you only name it the human spirit.”

The liberal church brings a needed perspective to missional work, he noted, by its affirmation of diverse religions, sexual orientations, genders, and ethnicities. “That means we can channel our energies not into opposing these issues, but into the creation of relationships and communities of all kinds that reflect core progressive values.”

Click here to read the full article

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