© Rev. Barbara F. Meyers 2007
Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation
July 1, 2007

The first Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist meeting that I attended was before the congregation existed in the living room of Steve and Kathy Wallcave. There were about 10 people there, and the atmosphere was electric with excitement in the idea that we could actually start a new congregation.

Soon after that, we began meeting twice a month for Sunday evening worship in a room at the Centerville Community Center. The attendance was between 2 and 20, with primarily young families; I remember at one service there were three nursing mothers in the congregation. We were working hard at trying to be a church, not quite knowing what we were doing, and not sure if it would succeed, but full of hope.

The first time we met at Tri-Cities Child Care Center (later renamed Kidango) was for a public information meeting in 1993 to reach out to the community. We had a wonderful program of music and information and there were 60 people in attendance! Way more than we were used to! I remember sitting down and crying with joy the next day because I knew that the church was really going to become a reality. The facility served us very well for the first 13 years of our existence as a congregation - with an auditorium and classroom space. We even had a small sign attached to the Kidango sign telling that it was a place of worship for MPUUC.

Today, we are in a new space, and this is the first worship service in this new home. I feel as if we have continued our progression into more and more wonderful homes. Look at the trees through the window, on a property meant to be a church, the RE space, the tranquility. Clearly, we have been blessed.

I'd like to think for a few moments about why we have made this move into this new space - what has made it possible. I remember that at the beginning of our church search process, Chris made the observation that finding a good church home would take hard work and a little luck. This was certainly true: Doug Rodgers and the search team worked very hard for many months scouting out all kinds of opportunities, all of them with some significant drawbacks. That is, until just over 2 months ago a member of the leadership of the Methodist church who had attended services at MPUUC as a guest heard that we were looking for a new home. He put into motion a series of events that ended with their congregation voting to have us as tenants at their second sanctuary. I contend that this wouldn't have happened if the welcoming of the entire MPUUC congregation as well as the quality of the worship and programming hadn't impressed him so much that he wanted us to be his tenant and neighbor. So, in my view, you all deserve credit for this wonderful new home.

How important is a new home? Very. We are indeed blessed to be here in this new location.

But, I would like to put this in context. The hymn we sang earlier asked: Where is our Holy Church? I'd like to answer this question.

We are:
About 115 adult members and 30+ children and many friends We live out the principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association with our very lives, committed to freedom of religion and a responsible search for truth and meaning

We help each other in our times of trial and crisis, making a community of and for ourselves

We reach out to the larger community in several significant ways

Here are some examples:

Worship - The topics are interesting, and the presentations engaging. We openly invite people to search responsibly for what gives their lives meaning. We have worship associate and music programs that rival those of churches twice or more our size. We just this year started a covenant group program that has several active groups and group leaders, allowing us to deepen our spiritual connections with each other. The retreat we had this year was a real builder of community. My lasting vision of that retreat is seeing the children and adults playing games as others sang songs around a blazing fire. I felt that we just all belonged together.

Pastoral care - Chris is very committed to his pastoral care responsibilities, and the Pastoral Associates program helps extend what he does. Beyond that, the people here care for each other - at least a third of the congregation is signed up on some category of help in the Caring Circle. Many people automatically call people who are in need, visit them, take meals, or help in some other way. It isn't unusual for a pastoral associate to begin to help someone and learn that several people in the congregation have already contacted a person in need to support them in some way.

Religious Education - We are very blessed to have such an excellent Director of Religious Education in Sally Ahnger to direct the education of our children. She knows each child and their particular needs. The volunteer teachers of the children's classes are also wonderful. It takes quite an army to pull off this program and Sally seemingly does this in her stride. And, we have offered a number of classes for adults as well, extending learning beyond worship services and covenant groups.

Reaching out to the community: Mental Health ministry - I feel very privileged and blessed to be supported so strongly by this congregation in my work as a mental health minister. Each new, unconventional project I dream up is embraced by the congregation, and people show up to help carry it out. RAD Congregation - just starting and already generating enthusiasm and the promise of change; Welcoming congregation - I remember Chris being recognized by the local PFLAG chapter for this effort, Environmental tree plantings - three years in a row, such a difference it will make for decades in the future.

I want you to notice that I haven't mentioned anything about a building in my description of what our church is.

The church is us.

Yes, we have a new home, a new meeting place, and it is a blessed gift to have it. But it is also true that the people are the living essence of this church. If we hadn't been who we are, we wouldn't have been recognized as special and given this opportunity of a new home.

I quote the words of the hymn:

Where is our holy church?
Where race & class unite
As equal persons in the search
For beauty, truth and right.

Where is our holy land?
Within the human soul,
Wherever free minds truly seek
With character the goal.

So it is. May it always be so. Wherever we meet now and in the future.

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