The theme for October is diversity and community. It is not that far from the unofficial motto of The United States, “E Pluribus Unum — Out of Many, One.” (The official motto, by the way, voted by Congress in 1956, is “In God We Trust.”)
As with our nation, so with our church—it is very easy to get hung up on the details. Does this mean we can only have one official language? How does this apply to our transgender brothers’ and sisters’ right to use a public washroom? During our period of silence in the worship service—what if the person beside me is praying to God, and I am not really comfortable with that?
I would argue that if we take community and diversity seriously, we are, on occasion, going to be made uncomfortable. And this is a good thing. It means we are alive. It may even mean that we are alive to new possibilities—new ways of being. Becoming one nation or one congregation does not mean that we are going to eat the same food or wear the same clothes, but it does mean we are going to allow for new possibilities.
Salsa sales outpaced ketchup 25 years ago in the United States. Yet, those who prefer ketchup need not worry that ketchup will become unavailable in our country anytime soon.
Our Unitarian Universalist culture also changes over time. However, we still honor those who went before us, and we continue to hold that we can build a community of faith that is not based on all of us believing exactly the same things.
October is also the month for our annual pledge campaign. Finances are another example of the diversity amongst us. Our congregation is fortunate to have a number of generous pledgers. We could not exist in our present building and with our present staff without such. However, when I say, “I do not want a lack of money to prevent anyone from fully participating in our church,” those are not just words—they speak to a truth at the heart of our community.
Diversity and community—E Pluribus Unum—these words mean that we do not demonize one another, but when we discover differences among ourselves, we seek to understand and appreciate one another—and find the common ground on which we all can experience comfort and joy. We all do better when we all do better.