A few years back, when a US invasion of Iraq seemed increasingly inevitable, I struggled with my role as a parish minister. I felt strongly against the war, and yet, I wanted the congregation I was serving to be a place where a variety of views could be heard. For a while, I simply told the congregation what I was up to on my own time and reinforced the role of the congregation as a place for respectful dialog. Eventually, I felt the need to do something more tangible within the congregation. Out of that grew a program we called Peace and Pizza.
Peace and Pizza had a simple repeatable format: 30 minutes of meditation and peace prayers; 30 minutes of check-in (How is your heart with the state of the world?); 30 minutes of education (What is a Sunni, a Shiite? Where is Iraq, anyway? How do we talk with people with whom we disagree?); Lastly, 30 minutes of action planning? (What are people moved to do, if anything, in the coming week?) Oh yeah, and we ordered out for pizza at the beginning of check-in, based on how many folks showed up.
I led the session every week for a long time. Eventually I handed off leadership and at some point it dropped to every other week. It was still happening in its evolved form when I left the congregation 4 years later.
Once again I find the events of our world compelling me to do something and I wonder if this format might work here in Orlando. I like that the format offers something from each of the congregation’s program areas: worship, community building, education, and outreach. I “pitched” the idea in last Sunday’s Question Box service in response to several inquires about Occupy Orlando, our local incarnation of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. The responses I heard were positive.
So… let’s have a go… shall we? Here’s a starting place and we’ll see how it evolves.
OCCUPY YOUR HEART
New (experimental) Economic Justice Program
Sunday, October 23, 4:30-6:30 pm, Gore Hall & Library
First Unitarian Church of Orlando (1901 E Robinson St.)
An opportunity for participants to engage in meaningful reflection, conversation, education, and action around the issues of economic justice so alive in our world today. You are invited to bring a bag meal. In the future, we may try a more coordinated meal plan. Those who wish may join Rev. Kathy on a visit to the Occupy Orlando site after the gathering.
It would be great to know who will be attending, so drop me an email if you can at email@example.com. Also, it’s open to anyone, so do bring your family and friends, co-workers and neighbors who might be interested.