Getting to Know You

A major thrust of my efforts in the last few weeks has been to try to get to know you as a congregation and as individuals and to try to get to know Manhattan. As I’ve said before, the notebook full of summaries about members, friends, and children and youth has been a tremendous help. I also appreciate the willingness of people to meet with me when I’ve asked, or to invite me. I continue to try to get to know you in these simple, basic ways. Relationships form the basis of ministry, so I don’t think there can be too much of these individual, family, and small group meetings.

So, a few observations about the membership:

  • Radina’s has incredible popularity among UU members and friends, as does the Konza Prairie (which I have managed to visit and look forward to more).
  • Besides university professors and support staff, our congregation includes a number of health care providers, teachers, and social workers, and a scattering of other careers, including farming, art, law, accounting, dog grooming, and the military.
  • We include a surprising number of entomologists.
  • Many people identify as humanist or atheist, but a number who see themselves as spiritual, despite lack of belief in God.
  • There’s a pretty wide acquaintance with Eastern religions, and interest in Native American and Pagan paths.
  • We share lots of enthusiasm for outdoor activities and in music.
  • Members have a wide variety of commitments to organizations that do good work in the community.

In the meantime, I’m also learning about Manhattan. Again, a few things I’ve learned:

  • People are nice. Really, really nice. They stop for pedestrians, are patient in lines, talk calmly with their children, and seem sincere when they ask how you are.
  • It’s easy to get around. I’m really excited to be able to walk and bike a lot from my downtown apartment.
  • I was surprised to find out how much poverty and homelessness have increased in the last few years.
  • The university does dominate, but there are plenty of other opportunities around town, too.
  • The religious community is pretty overwhelmingly Christian, but if you look closely, some alternatives exist, so there may be potential for interfaith collaborations.

I’m looking forward to learning more!

See you on Sunday (if not before),

Jonalu

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