Harmony in Diversity
This coming Sunday, we will benefit from the time & talent of PUC member Missy Rogers when she delivers her second PUC sermon and asks us “What it is about ‘church’ that keeps us coming back?” and “Why are you here?” I’ve been thinking about my own answers since I read about her topic in The View last week. The diversity found in my answers are, I think, a reflection of the diversity of PUC.
Last weekend I participated in the Pacific Sage Preschool (PSP) open house, and I was struck by the diversity of the attendees unified with a similarity of purpose - finding a good child/preschool match. Our attendees included prospective families & students, PSP Council members, PUC congregation members including Family RE children & youth, as well as neighbors, preschool faculty & staff from the surrounding area, early education leaders, many of our trustees, PUC’s Preschool Director, a performing musician and a city manager. We had diversity of age, ethnicity, socioeconomic situation, religious background, political affiliation, as well as wide ranging digital fluency, just to name a few. I mention digital fluency because it is becoming important to so many of the ways we function. I will share one example in a moment. At the same time, we need to always remember that our congregants interact with and are comfortable in the digital world at many different levels, from not at all to very advanced. All are welcome and valued.
We know we have change and challenges before us at PUC. To make the most of the opportunities that come with these, we need to be able to work together to harvest the promise of our diversity. We each need to be able to listen to one another, listen to diverse opinions that are different from our own, make open and honest value judgements, and be willing to accept that just because someone or a group does not agree with a recommendation does not mean that the recommendation wasn’t given fair and sincere consideration. Hillary Clinton once said that “What we have to do….is to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our difference without fracturing our communities.” As we take full advantage of the opportunities offered by such things as our settled minister search and adjustments of our professional staff’s responsibilities and job titles to reflect current & future challenges, let’s do so in the spirit of Secretary Clinton’s words.
I promised you a positive PUC example of the speed and power with which digital tools may be put to use, specifically social media. During Saturday’s PSP open house, a couple showed up that explained to us that having very recently relocated to Southern California from another state, on Friday they talked about possibly enrolling their daughter in preschool. Shortly thereafter an ad for our preschool appeared on their Facebook feed. (How’s that for targeted marketing?) And the next day they joined us at our open house. After that short visit they now plan to send their daughter to PUC’s Pacific Sage Preschool. At the very same time they were explaining this to me I could see a member of our congregation who doesn’t use email. Neither of their digital fluency is right or wrong, they are just different. The latter has had, and continues to have, an enormous positive impact on PUC; the former is just beginning.
It is the richness of our experiences at PUC, experiences frequently based on diversity, that keep me coming. No matter how you respond to Missy’s sermon on Sunday, I encourage you to do so in a way that gives you the time for a thoughtful, rich & diverse response.