Message from the Minister

— by William Levwood, UUCT Minister

Listening and Learning in Community

This week I had the opportunity to provide the invocation for this week’s City Commissioner’s meeting. Thank you to City Commissioner, Jeremy Matlow, for inviting me and UUCT Member Tom Moore for connecting us.

In the invocation, I lifted up the responsibility our elected officials have to represent all the people and communities that make up the City of Tallahassee. I spoke of multiple religious identities, being sure to include those religious identities so often ignored, such as Pagans, Atheists, and Agnostics. I also lifted up the many races, cultures, sexual orientations, gender identities, and economic levels of Tallahassee’s citizens. The message of the invocation drew on teaching from Islam and Buddhism, two traditions not often lifted up as sources of wisdom in our public discourse. Many people came up to me afterwards to thank me for giving the most inclusive invocation they’ve ever heard at an event like this. Truthfully, this wasn’t so difficult to do. All I did was lift up the diversity of the@logical (spelling is intentional) viewpoints, religious sources, and identities that are present and celebrated in our faith tradition.

For the next three weeks, I will be using an environmental justice lens in our Sunday services to explore what we can learn from our environment. And environmental justice lens calls us to include human society as an important part of our environment. Through this lens, attending a City Commission Meeting is as important as learning from wild nature. Through an environmental justice lens, we have as much to learn from human history as from natural history, as much to learn from a pillar of the community as from an old growth cypress.

I stayed for the entirety of the meeting, which lasted more than four hours. It was wonderful how many members of UUCT were also present at the meeting. In this meeting the City Commission passed the resolution committing Tallahassee to using 100% renewable energy by 2050. This was a great victory for our environmentalist community. The feeling of celebration was palpable in the room. I know that many organizations, including ReThink EnergySustainable Tallahassee, and the Big Bend Group Sierra Club, were instrumental in working on this resolution. So when you see Kim Ross or Brian Lee of ReThink Energy Florida, or Steve Urse or Rosa Ramos Morgan of Sustainable Tallahassee, I encourage you to congratulate them and thank them for their commitment and dedication.

May we continue to listen to all communities, embracing the wisdom in the diversity of human communities and in the more-than-human world.

May we continue to answer the call of love and show up for justice.

May we continue to side with love for the benefit of all beings, human and more-than-human.

This message published in the February 24, 2019 issue of The Meridian.