By Terry T. Mark, president, UUFE Board of Trustees

Each week, we begin our worship service with a prelude, a time for quiet reflection and centering, usually accompanied by a beautiful piano piece; a chalice lighting with words that help bring our time into focus; and the ringing of the gong.

For the first gong strike, we recognize those who came before us and made a place for us. That would be people such as Dorothy Boynton, who donated the land, and Jack and Shirley Ivey, the Robinsons, the Snows, the Hershbergers, the Arbogasts and many other families who came together in part because they wanted to create a space in which their children could learn about faith and spirituality from a UU perspective.

The second gong strike recognizes those who are here now. We all contribute in ways small and large, from those who serve on committees, participate in weekly meditation sessions or hand out orders of service and greet on Sunday mornings.

And then we ring the gong a third time, for those who will come after us and build on the dream.

But who are those people? Perhaps we haven’t met them yet, or they haven’t entered our space yet. Or, they could be people we’re acquainted with — someone we work with, or a neighbor, or someone with whom we play cards.

Will you be around to help “those who come after us” and “build on the dream”? One day, our names will be remembered by others with the same fondness and affection that I hear when we talk about Shirley Ivey.

What dream will they be building, however? In 1961, it might have been hard for our founders to envision the campus we have now, or that we host Elkhart Civic Theatre staged readings, or that a yoga group meets weekly, or meditation happens on Sunday afternoons.

What will UUFE look like 50 years from now?

The board of trustees has been working this year to create that space so that we as a group can envision what that future looks.

We need your help, your creativity and imagination, your passion for social justice, community and this neighborhood. What could UUFE offer to this community — sanctuary? Education? Understanding? 

I invite all of you to town hall meetings that will be scheduled later this winter to have these conversations, and to envision how we will get there. We’ll share more details in the coming days, but please plan for a lively discussion about what the future holds.

As I reflect on the possibilities, it’s hard for me not to feel excited.