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November 2018 Crump Expressway

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Remember to VOTE November 6, unless you've voted early. I remember well how my mother and father made a ritual out of voting and impressed upon me the importance of casting a ballot at every election, probably because my mother faced gender discrimination and was well aware of the women's suffrage movement. She was nine years old when the 19th Amendment was ratified. There is something else I remember each election season - the voice of the late CBS, CNN, NPR journalist, Daniel Schorr, who railed against the use of the phrase "votes are up for grab." To Schorr, a son of Russian Jewish immigrants, votes are never thrown up like beads in a parade and never up for grabs. We still find journalists, however, who grind the cliché as we encounter yet another election. I still miss Schorr - smart, unflappable, and courageous. Schorr, my hero, earned a place on President Nixon's "enemies list," and wore the posting as a badge of courage.

What can church people learn from political contests? First, let's not call our opponents enemies. Let us call true opponents, opponents, and apply – in our personal, family, church, and workplace disputes – some advice from organizational theorist Karl Weick, who says we should "argue like we're right but listen like we're wrong." Adam Grant, the psychologist who co-wrote Sheryl Sandberg's book on loss, Option B, adds: "Argue to learn versus argue to win. And acknowledge when your opponent has made a good point." Restoring civility in the public sphere today is the serious work of the kitchen, classroom, playground, workplace, Sunday school, and congregational life.

Leave-Taking stuff ~ Several have asked. After completing my full-time ministry here, on January 6, I am planning to stay in Baton Rouge. I'm aware that Baton Rouge functions as a big, small town, posing complications if I'm expected to comment on how things are going at church should members of the congregation and I encounter each other at a venue in the larger community. My plan is not to comment. It is my heart-felt wish that you and I not bring church matters into the content of any encounter. You or I may say, "Nice asparagus over in produce," should we run into each other at the store, but my goal in word and deed is not to undermine my successors' ministries and the future work of the congregation.

In that spirit, therefore, it is my intention to step away from church participation for a sufficient amount of time for the interim and my successor to establish their individual ministries. You may recall that in my letter to the congregation this past winter that it was my desire "not to let my process get in the way of your process." As a continuing member of the UU Minister's Association, I intend to remain in covenant with my colleagues, ministerial successors, and this congregation I have served for 36 years.

It is best practice, for example, for our church leadership and outgoing minister to develop a Letter of Understanding, highlighting the aspects and nature of a relationship that will change come January 6, 2019.

I invite church members to visit the UUMA website where guidelines are listed for best practice: