By Marianne Chopp Alt, President, Board of Trustees
“This land is your land, this land is my land.” It’s been 67 years since Woody Guthrie penned this song as a protest against Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” which was written in 1918 and often performed on the radio by Kate Smith. A lot has changed since 1940, including the words to “This Land” – stanzas are often dropped, different voices change the tone, but the strong, positive message remains.
Yes, a lot has changed in our world since the 1940’s, since the 1960’s when Unitarians and Universalists joined forces, since the 1990’s when our sanctuary was built, since last year when our country went in what felt like a very different direction. In times of great change, we look for ports in the storm – close family members, dear friends, our beloved congregation. The constancy and security of those familiar ties offer much needed support as we brace ourselves to venture into the world each day.
When any of these ports change, we may feel excited or we may feel unsettled or most likely, both at once. Change in our most treasured, safest places can be joyful, sorrowful, delightful, and challenging. There is a story told about UUCWC that in the late 1980’s there was an influx of new members attracted by a dynamic minister and a thriving, if small, community. These people came and joined in the work that needed to be done, jumping in with both feet and willingly taking leadership positions. This increase in membership helped initiate the capital campaign of that era and created the lobby, sanctuary and classrooms that we enjoy today. The pride and joy of this memory eclipses any growing pains that must have been associated with it.
To the portion of our congregation who experienced that time – thank you. Thank you for creating a place for all of us to find a welcoming, spiritual home – a place to put down roots and find our wings. This congregation continues to thrive and grow, attracting new members along with our dynamic minister. It is an exciting time for UUCWC and an unsettling time. We are experiencing growing pains as we all take a look at what we offer, how we engage, and how we support every member. We have new members who have jumped in with both feet and willingly taken on leadership positions. We have seasoned, long-term members who are taking a breath, mentoring and developing different leaders and participating in new, exciting programs. But we are still UUCWC: creating community, celebrating life, and changing the world. This is our strongest, most positive message.
Each one of us is a change agent called to participate in the shared ministries that enrich our community both inside and outside our walls. All our voices contribute to creating the best community for our present membership. The spark that began in 1916 in downtown Trenton burns brightly and warmly here in Titusville as we continue our journey of spiritual deepening, social justice activity, and for the next three years, capital improvements.
To shamelessly borrow from Woody Guthrie, “This church is your church, this church is my church” or said another way…I am UUCWC and You are UUCWC. May it always be so.