My dear niece-in-law, Christina, asked me what AGM meant recently, so I need to be careful to spell out the alphabet soup stuff. Annual General Meeting is our UU district gathering, which happens yearly. For the two days before the AGM, we ministers have a short retreat as well, so I have been in Salem, Oregon, since Wednesday. Now it's Sunday morning and I 'm getting ready to go home, very joyfully!
It's not because this has been a bad experience; I just like to be at home rather than living out of a suitcase. But when I go away on professional stuff like this, I almost always get to room with my longtime friend Sue, and that's worth the price of admission right there. I haven't decided yet whether I"ll stay for worship at 10 a.m., because I am eager to get on the way home. I just know Max will have done something irritating---either to Loosy or the bed or the garbage can or something---which I will have to clean up before I go to bed, and I'd rather that was earlier rather than later.
Anyhow, this has been a good few days. In addition to the professional activities, Sue and I went to see some of the sights around Salem. We explored the Mission Mill museum and grounds a little bit and also rode on the carousel down in Riverfront Park, had a great lunch at McGrath's (oysters! yum!), and I even got over to Fred Meyer to pick up some Friskies cat food on sale, a lot cheaper than I can buy it on the island.
The retreat part was pretty much centered around telling the UUA candidates for prez what we feel the churches out here on the front lines need from the UUA. I am glad that they were interested. I'm also glad that both of them are from the West. I am alarmed by the divide between the Western churches and the East coast churches. Though the theology is the same, there seems to be a different energy on the western edge of the UUA, from the Rocky Mt. States, though including Texas, over to the coast. I understand it's similar in the South. Things are popping here, but less so in the East, though I'm sure there are exceptions to that.
There seems to be an attitude among the Easties at the UUA that small congregations aren't much worth bothering with and that big congregations should be our goal. Well, let me tell you, Whidbey Island will never be a big church. There simply aren't enough UU-types to fill the seats. There are many places out here where there needs to be a small church to serve the retired folks who have moved in, the families of telecommuters, and the longtime residents who need a spiritual community and are not served by the local offerings. And there isn't any other church for 50 or more miles. So small churches are a fact of life and the UUA needs to give us more support, rather than striving for huge churches.
Anyhow, the AGM itself has been good. Our keynoter was Bill Schultz, former president of Amnesty International, now retired and doing a lot of other similar stuff. He was a terrific speaker, gave me many new ideas for my own work.
Our workshop went so well and Kari and I were delighted with the turnout. And last night's banquet featured a playlet of the Scopes trial, with local actors using a script that was taken straight from the actual trial transcript. Great!
So today I'll be heading home, to clean up whatever mess Maxie has made and let him go outdoors for awhile. It will be good to be home. We have rehearsals all week for upcoming gigs and I need to be singing something besides hymns for awhile!