Unitarian Universalist Church of Olinda
news of our historic UU church in Ruthven (Kingsville), Ontario


January 30th, 2022 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Time For All Ages – Classical Music Mashup
Grant Woolard (12 January, 2016)

Sermon – Mashup – Rev. Rod


Read: [Printable PDF available]

If you’re like me, you probably like a few different types of music.  My taste spans from classical to heavy metal.  I also like a good dose of pop, as well as Mexican folk music, which itself encompasses a diverse umbrella of genres and styles.

But if you were to ask me what genre of music is my favourite, I’d probably have to say the mashup.  At its most basic level, mashups involve splicing different musical pieces together to make a new composition that incorporates its sources in a way that they complement and enhance each other.  This often results in a richer piece, and invites us to look at its sources in a new way.

It’s a similar concept to a medley, although mashup culture often goes further by overlaying different songs, playing parts of them simultaneously so that they play off of each other.  Another way to do it is to play certain songs, but in a style that might be unexpected, given the perceived incompatibility of their genres, yet yielding results with a surprising compatibility… and even a new life to a song that might have become a bit too familiar.

Last Easter, I shared that going down a musical rabbit hole may lead us into interesting places, such as mashups that incorporate modern pop music played in a medieval style – this practice that has become known as bardcore, and it has become a bit of a cottage industry and a genre in its own right.

Indeed, there are even bands that specialize in mashups, often playing certain well-known songs in a different style.  One of my favourites is the Mexican group Tropikal Forever, which plays pop classics from the 80s and 90s in a Latin cumbia style.  Another gem that I’ve come across is the band Beatallica, which plays versions of The Beatles songs in the style of the heavy metal band Metallica.

For me, one of the most gratifying aspects of this mashup genre is that – beyond offering a fun and enjoyable piece of music – they also stimulate a new appreciation for how things may synergize together, offering something that can be greater than the sum of its parts.  There’s often an element of surprise, and a fresh challenge to preconceptions about what different currents can or cannot go together, as tranquil streams that meet and merge.

Our own faith tradition is a real-life religious mashup.  The reason that our name is such a mouthful – Unitarian Universalism – is a testament to our two main sources: two traditions that saw that they could complement each other and create something new, greater and more inspiring than either one could be by themselves.

The Universalist message of radical inclusion, along with the Unitarian practice of challenging strict orthodoxy, augmented each tradition’s ability to inspire and guide a more fulsome living tradition.

Of course, we don’t have a monopoly on the spiritual mashup business, most religious traditions have done something similar at some point.  The Christmas story most of us know, and which we shared last month, as is our custom, is itself a mashup of the gospels of Matthew and Luke, to give just one notable example that we’ve inherited from our Protestant roots.

Now, the excitement that comes from hearing and living mashups, is also tempered by the sobering realization that they aren’t as easy as they look.  Sure, once you hear them, it’s obvious that the two pieces do well together.  But it takes a keen ear and serious legwork to feel out what these pieces might be, and to arrange them in a way that truly works, beyond simply playing them at the same time.  And I’ve been around the mashup block long enough to see many instances, when… the mashup doesn’t actually work out as well as it might have seemed at first glance.

In our live online service, we tried out singing certain “hymn mashups” of sorts, using the lyrics for one hymn with tunes that are usually played with other unrelated hymns.  And yet, it works… usually.  This practice is such an established tradition, that our hymnal – and those of many other religions – actually have a built-in tool in them for service leaders to do just that.  It’s the metrical index of tunes, which has a systematic cataloguing of tunes that are likely to work with other hymns, based on their poetic metre, particularly how the syllables are arranged in the hymn.  Without this tool, many pairings simply wouldn’t work.  In fact, there are some pairings that still don’t work, even when they’re compatible on paper.

And indeed, as natural as the merging of Universalists and Unitarians may seem to many of us now, it took many decades for it to realize in a feasible way.  Trust had to be built, extensive talks and negotiations were held… there were some false starts.  And it also took the visionary leadership of their respective youth groups to just go ahead and start working together, officially or not, and demonstrate that, yes, this can work!

And current Unitarian Universalism continues to follow this lead.  Many members bring elements of their own birth traditions, or elements of traditions that they have come to follow and see that they are often compatible with the culture of our faith.

And here is where it can also get tricky.  Because incorporating many traditions isn’t always as easy or appropriate as it looks.  This can be especially true when there isn’t an adequate appreciation or understanding for other source traditions that sometimes come into our community.  Aspects that may seem complementary at first glance, might not reflect what a source tradition actually proclaims or practices, and the result may be harmful or disrespectful.

As we explore other faith traditions, it is a common experience to observe just how many similarities there are among them – and this is exciting, as it may illustrate a certain unity in the spiritual experience that we might not always be aware of.  But there is also the risk that we may be tempted to ignore unique elements from a certain tradition.

Yes, there is considerable overlap in most of the world’s spiritual paths, but it would be inaccurate – even insensitive – to say they are all the same.  There are reasons why people follow different paths.  There are elements that may be important, perhaps central, to people who are observant in a particular faith tradition, and it would be a disservice to disregard or dismiss these differences, without respecting or understanding why they may be important.

And yes, we do have much to learn from other faith traditions, especially when we’re open to seeing how they challenge our own preconceptions, and how they may complement the values and practices that are important to us and bring us deeper understanding of our own spiritual perspective.

These are enriching opportunities, as long as we remember to remain respectful, tread carefully, wait to be invited into learning, and accept the invitations when they come.  It also serves us to consider that, just because we understand one aspect, it doesn’t mean we have a true handle of what is significant in another tradition.  When exploring new faiths, it is worth removing our proverbial sandals, for we are treading on holy ground.

With all these considerations in mind, we also consider that the mashup ethos is perhaps among the more powerful forces in creativity and innovation.  It is also a reminder that new knowledge and new creation rarely exists in a vacuum, it is often the result of collaboration among many individuals, and importantly, teams of people – across space… and time.  Last November, we explored the collaboration of scientists, medical professionals, and enthusiastic researchers across the centuries, whose collaboration over space and time have brought us life-saving medications and procedures, like insulin and vaccines.

My friends, we owe a lot of what is new to what is old.  Moreover, current wisdom tends to come from more than one source.  Especially when it brings in new perspectives, or when it challenges what we’ve been accustomed to.

My friends, it takes work for things to work together.  And it can be incredibly gratifying when they do.

My friends, with a lens of responsibility, we may access a lens that magnifies what is already here, and find new paths, inspiring complementary vision from streams that meet and merge.

So may we collaborate,
In optimism, caution, and grace,

Copyright © 2022 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

Hymn #145 As Tranquil Streams
~)-| Words: Marion Franklin Ham, 1867-1956
Music: Musicalisches Hand-buch, Hamburg, 1690, adapt.
Tune WINCHESTER NEW – For a “mashup” experience, try singing it with the DANBY tune!

Offered by Hillside Community Church (18 June, 2021)

Protonic Salad

January 23rd, 2022 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Time for All Ages – The Taste of Protons

Steve Mould – What Do Protons Taste Like?” (18 June, 2021)

Sermon – Protonic Salad – Rev. Rod


Read: [Printable PDF available]

Early in the pandemic, one of the possible symptoms of infection that was announced was the loss of the sense of smell or taste.  And while this kind of symptom may not sound as scary as shortness of breath, fever, pneumonia, or hospitalization, it’s also not trivial, especially if it happens for a prolonged time.  Of course, there are a number of conditions that can lead to a loss of these senses, and it can really be a significant loss for some people.

It also raises many interesting questions about how we interact with our surroundings, as well as specific questions about what exactly our senses are, and how many do we have?  And even if we focus specifically on one sense, like taste… what exactly is it, and how many tastes can we perceive?

When many of us were growing up, some of these answers were easy – five senses, and in the sense of taste, it was four: salty, sweet, sour, and bitter.

But by now, many of us have gotten the memo that there’s actually a fifth recognized taste: umami, often translated as “savoury”, or sometimes as “deliciousness” or even “meaty”.  Even after accepting these five, there is ongoing debate on whether there are six, seven, eight, or even more identifiable tastes.

And in terms of our senses, for some time now, it has been understood that they number more than five.  Our vestibular sense, for instance, is one such “sixth sense”, which is our ability to find equilibrium… to balance, and the ability to feel acceleration is related to that, as these are both perceived by our inner ear, even though they are not related to sound.

There’s sometimes debate about other senses, such as the ability to perceive pain, and temperature, as well as internal senses (called interoceptions), like hunger, which aren’t so much about our surroundings, but still use our nervous system to convey information to our body.

The boundaries of how we define our senses, and the specifics of what those senses let us sense, can sometimes get fuzzy, and it is worth leaning into that fuzziness, as we explore how we get to know the world outside ourselves… as well as the world within ourselves, that we may not always be conscious about, yet it guides our behaviour and actions.  The senses, interoceptions, or whatever you want to call them, are our doors of perception.

The science educator Steve Mould, makes an interesting observation about our sense of taste, and what each of the currently recognized tastes are.  In one of his videos, he describes our tastes as chemical detection systems.  And each of the chemicals that we detect with our tastes play a literally vital part in our survival.  Sweetness allows us to find sources of energy in simple carbohydrates, like sugar.  Saltiness allows us to get a certain balance of electrolytes.  Umami can help us find sources of protein… sometimes – it helps us find glutamates, which can often come with protein, which is a start.

Indeed, the role and effectiveness of our tastes can get a bit fuzzy.  It’s probable that our sense of sourness helps us determine the ripeness of fruits, by gauging their acidity.  And Steve Mould describes bitterness broadly as a poison detection system.

But wait, some of us eat or drink bitter stuff all the time – I do it most mornings with a cup of coffee – and we don’t recoil in disgust or fear that we’re poisoning ourselves.

As Steve Mould remarks, many of our tastes can be “fooled” to an extent, in the sense that they don’t actually detect what it is we’re looking for.  We can taste sweet things that give us little or no energy – in fact, we often due that on purpose.  We can taste salty things that don’t have the amount of sodium we think we’re getting, and we often due that on purpose.  Often, we get umami stuff, because we simply like it, regardless of the protein content of the food – or food-like matter – that we’re taking.

And many of us actively seek out things that one part of our body is telling us might be poisonous, though we also know that they often are not.  Mould suggests that we’ve learned that certain things, such as broccoli, are good for us, despite the bitterness they have, so another part of us rationalizes that the bitterness is inconsequential.  Sometimes, we might even come to like it, as is the case with things like chocolate, coffee, and beer.

And Mould hypothesizes that the pleasurable sensations we get from the psychoactive substances in these foods and drinks overrides the bitterness, or might even help us associate the bitterness with the pleasure of eating and drinking these things.  One of the most bitter, yet harmless, substances we can ingest, is quinine, which was used as a tonic against malaria at some point, and now some of us seek it out on purpose, in smaller doses (in tonic water).

Perhaps the most mind-blowing taste might be sourness, because the mechanism our tastebuds use to detect acidity is thanks to one of the signature features of acids – their tendency to give out positive hydrogen ions.  And as Mould explains, since hydrogen is made up of only one proton and one electron, and a positive hydrogen ion is missing one electron, we are effectively tasting protons when we eat something sour – “protons taste sour” (Steve Mould).  Every time we dress a salad, we are seasoning it with a generous helping of protons for our tongue to detect.

What I find rather powerful about this perspective is that it reminds me of just what senses really are – our ability to interact and connect with the world.  And our doors of perception affect our ability to respond to this world as it interacts with us.

Not only is it amazing that we can directly taste a subatomic particle, with no specialty equipment beyond a salad bowl and some vinegar (no particle accelerators required), but we can also make use of these flavours to affect our diets and our health, sometimes for good (in the interest of our well-being), and sometimes… for ill (quite literally).

Artificial and low-calorie sweeteners and low-sodium salt are one way in which we purposefully “hack” our sense of taste to reduce the adverse effects that too much sugar and salt can have on our bodies.  Let’s remember that both sugar and salt are essential nutrients that we regularly require to survive.  We evolved to like these things so that we could get enough of them, especially when they were hard to come by.

But in our current industrialized society, these things have become more than easy to come by – too easy – so easy in fact, that we often have them without realizing it.  And so, we’ve learned to go out of our way to avoid them, at least some of the time, sometimes getting some help in keeping our cravings in check, with substances that give us similar sensations.

And we’ve learned to tolerate or even like some bitter foods and drinks, because we’ve learned that they are not nearly as poisonous as their taste might imply, or might even be especially good for us.

And then there’s umami, which helped our ancestors detect and get protein.  But umami doesn’t always come with protein, and that can be helpful, since protein is also easier to come by nowadays, including from things other than meat.  And even though some umami foods, like tomatoes, mushrooms, and seaweed don’t have much protein, we’re still getting other good things from them.

But umami can also be industrially added to foods in substances like monosodium glutamate, or MSG.  A fuller discussion on the health effects of MSG might perhaps be a topic for another time or place, although it’s been established that it’s not nearly as dangerous as popular lore has made it out to be.  As internet cook and food commentator Adam Ragusea observes, in and of itself, the substance MSG is quite harmless to most people.

Food historian Dr. Sarah Tracey, from the University of Toronto, observes that the greater danger of MSG might be that it can taste so good, with very little nutrients, especially when added to other foods that don’t do much for us.  Things like, food-inspired products, like packaged snacks.  When added to the wrong things, MSG and other flavour enhancers can make “food” that is terrible for us be irresistible, and that’s perhaps its greatest danger.

There is one saving grace in contemplating junk foods like these.  They are a lesson in interacting with the senses.  It’s not just one ingredient that makes them so irresistible, but a very precise science that mixes many experiences.  There is saltiness, sweetness, sourness, and umami all together.  Not only that, there is sight involved, appealing shapes and colours that beckon to us.  And there is also sound.  The tastes, aromas, sights and sounds, all come together into one satisfying experience.

But junk food does not have a monopoly on these experiences, healthy and wholesome foods can have those too – it just takes a bit more forethought, more consideration, more intentionality.  Healthy foods can have all the tastes, look good, even sound good.  And when we learn, or teach ourselves, to bring that satisfying experience to our food, or anything else that we wish to do which is good for us, then our senses can continue their task of guiding us toward healthier living.

My friends, when we explore the roots and routes that the doors of perception offer, they may continue to serve us into more wholesome lives.

My friends, when we consider the ways in which the doors of perception may trick us and fool us, we may be better prepared to proceed with caution.

My friends, when we are open to our senses and seek to get deeper in touch with them, we may make of life a richer experience.

So may it be,
In optimism and grace,

Copyright © 2022 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

Closing Hymn #346 Come, Sing a Song with Me
Words & music: Carolyn McDade, 1935- , © 1976 Surtsey Publishing Co.

Mike Menefee KUUF Choir (1 July 2020)

Perpetual Beta

January 16th, 2022 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #290 Bring, O Past, Your Honor
~)-| Words: Charles H. Lyttle, 1884-1980
Music: John Bachus Dykes, 1823-1876

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship San Luis Obispo (26 November, 2021)

Sermon – Perpetual Beta – Rev. Rod


Read: [Printable PDF available]

When the web browser-based e-mail platform Gmail was released in 2004, its logo came with a little tag attached to it: the word Beta.  Named after the second letter of the Greek alphabet, this is a software development concept in which the product has passed its initial alpha stage and can be considered “complete” insofar as it includes the features the developer wishes to deliver… while still expecting a number of bugs and issues to come up.

There are many ways of doing beta, but one way is to do a limited release of the product for some live testing by an initial cohort of users.  Indeed, at first, you could only get a Gmail account by invitation only, from another user.  Getting an invitation wasn’t all that difficult, as each user had 100 invites to give, so if you really wanted an account, it wasn’t long until someone you knew could give you an invite.  Fairly soon, people could simply get an account on demand.

The official beta stage lasted around five years, although even now, there is a section in each Gmail account called Labs, in which new features are constantly tested by users, and you can only access those features if you specifically sign on to take them on in a trial basis.  Some of these features might never catch on, while others eventually become part of the standard package.

In some ways, the beta mindset is a built-in feature of the product, even if it’s officially past the beta stage.

Indeed, some software developers have a looser definition of the beta stage, and have embraced an approach that could be called perpetual beta, in which the users of the product are effectively co-developers of it on an ongoing basis.

Our Unitarian Universalist faith also embraces much of the perpetual beta ethos.  Of course, we tend to use more… theological language, such as living tradition, in which we actively recognize that, just as we honour past experience and wisdom, we also welcome ongoing reform and development.

In the condensed histories of our Universalist roots, and of our church of Olinda, Louise Foulds takes care to include some of our roots in the appendices.  These include proclamations of faith that might still resonate with some among us, but which have given way to broader and more inclusive statements and covenants that we have determined are more reflective of our tradition as it is today and as we want to be.

Each of these statements has been years in the making, each building upon previous ones.  And the adoption of each new statement has not come automatically – each one included countless hours of discussion and deliberation, and did not come without moments of controversy.  Nonetheless, each one also came about because the groups that came up with them identified a need in the community for changes – or upgrades, as they might be called in the software development lingo.

The latest of these developments is the addition of an 8th principle, as the member congregations of the Canadian Unitarian Council covenant to affirm and promote: “Individual and communal action that accountably dismantles racism and systemic barriers to full inclusion in ourselves and our institutions.” 

This was a change that came with many hours of discussion and debate in our denomination nation wide.  It did not come without controversy and resistance.  And while support for this was not unanimous – for various reasons – it was also overwhelmingly adopted by our delegates nationwide, last November.

While this was a momentous change to the original document that was adopted in 1985, it wasn’t the first change made to the original 7 principles and 5 sources, as adopted in 1985 – a 6th source was added in 1995, recognizing earth-centred traditions as part of our heritage, practice, and community.

The 8th principle is the latest addition.  And the wording adopted in Canada is itself modified from a similar proposal in the United States, which is still under consideration by the Unitarian Universalist Association.  The Canadian wording came with its own set of questions that included considering how it applied in our national context.

The “original” 7 principles and 5 sources – later 6 sources – were themselves the product of a wholesale revision of the previous 6 principles that were adopted in 1961.

I won’t go through all the 6 principles from 1961 here, but if you were to look at them, the similarities – and the differences – would likely jump out at you.  Obviously, 6 principles are different than 7; also, the order is different.  The wording and general sentiments, however, would look very familiar, and much of it was carried over into the newer 7 principles of 1985.  There would, however be some wording that would immediately look rather strange – the conspicuous use of the word “man”.

In the 1961 statement, its 3rd principle speaks about “the dignity of man”, its 4th principle speaks of “a world community founded on ideals of brotherhood”, and its 6th principle proclaims “To encourage cooperation with men of good will in every land.”

I think we know what the intent of those words was, but the impact it will have on us now is of a gender-exclusive use of language.

It will not surprise you that it was in large part the initiative of women in our movement that prompted the revision of the principles in the 1980s.  Not only were the principles reworded and reordered, they added a 7th principle that speaks to our interconnectedness, recognizing, among other things, a rising environmental awareness.  And, of course, the language became more inclusive.

Now that the 8th principle has been adopted in Canada, there is no illusion that the work is done, and that this covenant is to remain static.  In a living tradition, a covenant is a living document, which warrants periodic revisiting to consider how it will serve us better in the service of humanity.  Already, there are plans to review the process by which we adopt and amend our principles in Canada (this was a point of contention during the discussions about the 8th principle).  Once that process is determined, there may come a time in which our principles may be re-developed again, perhaps with minor edits, or perhaps with wholesale changes, like entire re-orderings and rewordings.

It has not escaped our attention, for instance, that our current 2nd source speaks about the “Words and deeds of prophetic women and men” – more inclusive than the male-centric wording from 1961, but still reinforcing a gender-binary that does not recognize members of our community along a broader gender spectrum.

My friends, at the church of Olinda, we have started adopting some covenants among some of our ministries.  Some of these are short-lived, intended to serve us during specific settings, such as educational programming groups.  Others are longer-standing, as is the case in some committees.  These are all living documents, in perpetual beta, as their ongoing development and redevelopment help guide us in who we seek to be, and on how we want to be with each other.

My friends, in a living tradition we continue an ongoing practice, as we make our church the place where we practice being human.

My friends, may this practice be our ongoing covenant.

So may it be,
In optimism and grace,


Copyright © 2022 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

Hymn #123 Spirit of Life
Words & music: Carolyn McDade, 1935 © 1981 Carolyn McDade
~)-| harmony by Grace Lewis-McLaren, 1939- , © 1992 Unitarian Universalist Association

Sung by Leah Hokanson of First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo
Posted by the Canadian Unitarian Council (8 March, 2021)


January 9th, 2022 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #326 Let All the Beauty We Have Known
~)-| Words: Dana McLean Greeley, 1908-1986
Music: English melody, adapt. and harmony by Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1872-1958, © 1931 Oxford University Press

Unitarian Universalist Church Utica (30 January, 2021)

Sermon – Ctrl+Z – Rev. Rod


Read: [Printable PDF document]

When your work involves a lot of typing, you are likely to pick up a habit of using what are called the “key shortcuts” – which is to say, little combinations on a computer keyboard that do little “tricks” or functions.  I won’t go through all of them here, but there are a couple that bear mentioning.

On many computer configurations, if I press-and-hold the shift key while tapping the arrow keys, I can highlight text, if I then press-and-hold the ctrl (“control”) key along with the letter c, the computer will copy that text – this the ctrl+c shortcut.  And I can then paste that text somewhere else by using ctrl+v.  You could also do all this with your mouse, but sometimes, using the key shortcuts allows for more precision, or… well, control.

But perhaps my favourite key shortcut is ctrl+z.  Using that combination of keys does something magical – it will undo previous actions, and this can range from the last letter you typed, to entire paragraphs (depending on how many times you tap it).  It’s essentially a typing eraser, and I use it – a lot.  In fact, I used it while typing this very paragraph!

Like many things, ctrl+z is a tool, something that helps you in your trade – just as the correction ribbon on a typewriter might have been at some point.  And for someone who writes for a living, ctrl+z can be almost as habitual as typing itself.

Sometimes, the habit becomes so engrained that it can be a bit jarring when you realize you can’t use it “in real life”.  After spending several minutes, or even hours, moving furniture around a room – or putting furniture together – and then realizing it’s not quite where you want it, or the order of assembly has been mixed up… it can be almost a reflex to move the fingers to an imaginary set of keys, typing “ctrl+z” in the air.  But the furniture will not reset itself… the key shortcuts don’t work the same way outside of the word processor.  There is no ctrl+z for real life.

Or is there?

Let’s back up a bit… or press the proverbial backspace key, if you will!

It is common to start a new year with a sense of new beginnings, of resetting – perhaps looking back at the previous year and thinking about the things we might have done differently.  To some degree, this is an arbitrary practice, based solely on shifts in the calendar… but that’s as good a time as any.  In fact, reflection and evaluation has a place at any time when we feel that new direction might be useful.

And the past two years have certainly raised a heightened sense of… needing new direction, or wanting to start over again.  This is true worldwide, and this extends to our more immediate communities.  Perhaps some of us occasionally get an overwhelming desire to altogether have a total do-over… essentially press the proverbial ctrl+z keys of life.

New year’s resolutions represent one way some of us might try to do that – and these can bring mixed results.  It may well lead to new directions in life, or at least begin exploring certain aspects of how we live our lives.

Last year, I mentioned a more novel practice of considering a general theme for the year – rather than a specific resolution.  This approach might offer more flexibility, allowing the goals of a theme to adapt to the shifting needs that real life presents to each of us, as the year evolves.  You might choose, for instance, a year of health, or a year of relationship-building, and whatever you end up doing under any of those umbrellas represents your fulfillment of those themes.

In everyday situations, there are other ways that we may find “ctrl+z moments”, like when we make a mistake (outside of the word processor) or when we find that we have hurt someone.  Apologies are one way that we sometimes seek to remedy those missteps – these usually don’t really “undo” a regrettable action, but they might bring a relationship to a more wholesome state, perhaps even improve upon how it was before.

Now, apologies aren’t always possible, or desirable.  There are times when that’s not what is being asked for, and may in fact lead to more problems if they are not welcome.  They are one tool at our disposal, offering options.

An even broader tool at our disposal is an attitude of openness to learning.  And this is extremely valuable, because even when a complete do-over isn’t possible, or when apologies either won’t cut it or aren’t really feasible, learning will still allow us to grow and develop, to enrich our lives, perhaps further beyond what they would have been without having stumbled along in the first place.

We have previously explored how making mistakes is sometimes an integral part of the learning process, and that in many tasks, such as learning a language or a new skill, getting it wrong comes with the package as an expected part of the process.  That is what practice is often about.

Embracing this approach to learning and development is much easier when we stop demanding perfection in the process.  It doesn’t mean we won’t try in earnest nor does it mean forgetting about the consequences of a blunder; it simply means recognizing that the practice involves ongoing rehearsal, and each time it might be a bit different – maybe even a bit better.

Sometimes, when we hear a word like evaluation, we might cringe at implications of being tested or criticized.  But if we consider it in its broader sense of taking stock, of reflection and consideration of what’s important to us – what is valuable to us – then we can see it as another tool toward a new and improved direction.

Last week, we heard from some among you as you looked back at the past year, as well as how you’re looking at the coming year, and this is an evaluation of sorts.

In a couple of months, we’ll be holding our Annual General Meeting, and we’ll have had a chance to consider the annual reports from our many shared ministries in our church.  These too are evaluations and reflections of where we’ve been and where we want to go.  They’re not about testing or criticizing our shared work, they’re opportunities for learning and community development.

Our Committee on Shared Ministry will also be holding a general evaluation of our shared ministries, and this too will help us get a better sense of our congregation, taking stock of where we are and where we want to be as a church.

Our weekly Sunday services are constantly being re-evaluated, and this has become an even greater necessity over the past couple years, as our format and logistical preparation shifts – sometimes week to week.

So, my friends, even though life outside the word processor doesn’t really have as magic an eraser as ctrl+z, we do have ample tools for ongoing course correction, for consideration and reflection, for learning and enrichment.

My friends, may we take these opportunities to practice deepening and development in our shared ministries.

My friends, may we so practice our ministry.

So may it be,
In optimism and grace,


Copyright © 2022 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

Hymn #56 Bells in the High Tower
~)-| Words: Howard Box, 1926- , © 1992 Unitarian Universalist Association
Music: Hungarian carol, © 1992 Unitarian Universalist Association

Social Band (24 October, 2015)

January 2022 Newsletter

January 7th, 2022 . by William Baylis

Click here and enjoy!