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Words of greeting, thanks, and hope

President Sinkford's first column.
By William G. Sinkford
September/October 2001 9.1.01

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My dear friends:

It is both an honor and a pleasure to write these words of greeting to you as the new president of our Association. I am filled with gratitude for the many people across the continent who heard the message of hope and purpose in my campaign and voted to affirm that message through my election. I am touched by the many offers of support as I begin this important work—especially those from people who did not support me as a candidate and people whose views have not always agreed with mine. To all of you, let me offer my thanks.

The mandate you have given me reflects, I believe, the renewed promise of Unitarian Universalism that you embody in our congregations. Ours is a faith that celebrates community and delights in difference. Ours is a faith that values the gifts that are unique in every person. Ours is a living faith that transforms lives and communities. I know these things from experience; so do many of you.

You have called me to lead with you as we become more public in our witness and more powerful in our collective voice. From our willingness to challenge those who limit human rights and dignity, to our growing affirmation of the holy wherever it might be found, to our insistent challenge to the imposition of a single religious path, Unitarian Universalism's message of transformative hope is a much-needed antidote to the cynicism of our divided world.

There is much that our association has already done to help spread the good news of our faith; our congregations and ministers are seeking and finding new and more effective ways to be a presence for justice in the wider world. In this issue, for example, you'll read about congregations across the continent whose ministries have burst through their church walls into their communities, as exemplified by the ministry to street people of the Rev. Kay Jorgensen of First UU Society of San Francisco. And individual UUs are finding practical ways to connect their faith to everyday life; you'll find several examples sprinkled throughout these pages. And the youth and young adult members of our congregations are involving themselves more deeply in congregational life, bringing new vigor and a fuller reflection of our Unitarian Universalist ideals.

As I have traveled throughout this continent in my work and in the campaign, you have spoken to me of your hopes and fears for our faith. Most urgently, you have said to me again and again that you want this religious movement to speak out forcefully for the liberal religious way. I have been humbled by the faith you have placed in me to lead this association; I have been reassured that this great task is not mine alone to do.

As we enter this new era of Unitarian Universalism, an era of transition and growth, I am reminded of those things about our movement that endure: our quest for freedom, our love of reason, our struggle to move beyond tolerance to justice, all undergirded by the covenantal nature of our faith. We promise to be with one another, to uphold one another, to discern together the many ministries to which we are called. I promise an open mind and a listening ear as I take up the task of representing this faith we love so much. I welcome your company on the journey.

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