The Magnolia State

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Sanctuary art at UU, Photo credit: www.uuoxford.co
Sanctuary art at UUCO, Photo credit: www.uuoxford.com

Mississippi is a land of hospitality, history and unlimited beauty, and there was no shortage of that true southern hospitality as we arrived to the home of Ole Miss in Oxford (University), Mississippi.  With weekend parking and electric hookups provided by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oxford, Austin and I were able to get comfortable and even disconnect the Jeep to do some more personal tourism in the area.

A young community by Unitarian standards (formally joined the UUA in 1997), this lay led congregation is overwhelmingly representative of our seven principles while ready and eager for the growth it is destined to receive.  On this Sunday, guest minister, the Rev. Fred L. Hammond (The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tuscaloosa, Alabama) presented “Violence in America,” focusing on the existence of micro-aggressions within society.  Rev. Hammond expressed the need for the recognition and reevaluation of our own roles as UUs in the presentation and acceptance of micro-aggressions in our communities and in our governments as these apply to social justice needs and improved gun ownership legislation with mental health provisions.

After the service was an amazing “potluck,” (a term not fitting the cloth napkins, table coverings, and dinnerware!)  Also not fitting the term was the fabulous diversity of food for vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike.  I can honestly say that I have never attended such a thoughtful potluck gathering–and amongst such wonderful people–before this day.

Welcoming chalice, Photo credit: www.uua.org
Welcoming chalice, Photo credit: http://www.uua.org

Not to be outdone, Rev. Hammond came back after our meal and presented an eye-opening workshop on Heterosexism, including revealing unethical and even unenforceable laws within the state of Mississippi that limit and undermine the education of Mississippi’s youth about the LGBTIA community (sexual minorities) within society.  And, although already a diverse and open community, the UUC of Oxford is currently working towards the formality of becoming a UUA recognized “Welcoming Congregation,” arranging the workshop as a part of their venture.

For information on attending the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oxford, visit: http://www.uuoxford.com

For a wonderful sampling of Rev. Hammond’s thoughts, visit his blog “A Unitarian Universalist Minister in the South”: http://serenityhome.wordpress.com/

To better understand the requirements for becoming a Welcoming congregation, visit: http://www.uua.org/lgbtq/index.shtml