If I lived in Miami, I'd probably go to church here

All Souls Miami


They’re on to something:

Visitors might note that traditionally the name “All Souls” has applied mostly to Unitarian churches or churches of dissent. While we may be “spiritual cousins” of Christian Unitarians and other liberal churches in liberal denominations, and while we remain appreciative of denominational families, All Souls Miami remains independent and unaffiliated.

The worship has a traditional form. They also meet in rented space, about twice a month. The minister, Kenneth Claus, is experienced with seminary training (Union) and a tentmaker. Interesting.

End-of-year giving: good choices and a particular option

I stand for fiscal responsibility in non-profit organizations. Money entrusted for the common good should be used wisely and efficiently. Donors should — and increasingly do — seek out organizations with desirable missions and with the capacity to work efficiently.

I’ve been critical of churches that function like clubs as betraying this calculus; why, for instance, should a snug and private concern be tax-benefited? Church leaders have a responsibility to review their program against the public good they provide; in other words, through the eyes of taxpayers who support common infrastructure and other good organizations who are natural rivals for contributions. By which I mean general funds, building funds, organ funds.

That said, I have a warm place for ministerial discretionary funds. I’ve given them, given to them and received funds from them. (I graduated seminary so broke I didn’t have gas money from Texas to Georgia. Tough times.) World change won’t be funded through ministerial discretionary funds, but they do (or can do) a good job with the kind of emergencies that need a social net but for which there is often no kind of appropriate service organization. Money to pay for a prescription, travel funds to see a dying relative, transit fare for someone returning to work . . . very often that kind of thing.

As a matter of practice, I’d like to see financial controls in place, but in the end if you don’t trust a minister to be a good steward of the funds, then no amount of control will do much good to what end the funds are used.

So I’m getting my checkbook out and suggest you do too. That said, and not thinking of anyone in particular, there’s no rule you have to give to your minister.

Film: Nothing more demented than Pee Wee

I blogged about a fragment of the Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special a couple of years ago, but I’ve never been able to watch it all. Broadcast in 1988, it means it’s old enough to legally drink. Which would probably help for viewing, too. I mean, are those real Marines? Charo? Magic screen?

The first part below — you can watch the rest if you get sucked in at YouTube.

I want a deluxe woodburning kit!

A familiar profession from the Brazilian Unitarians

Even though I took Portuguese as my required language at the University of Georgia, I never really got the hang of it, and so after twenty years I go to Google (rather than my own skill) to read the site of the Congregação Unitarista de Pernambuco, no Brasil. That is, in Brazil. (And that’s about all I can do.)

They seem to come from the mellow Unitarian Christian end of the tradition: the one that any number of New Englanders would recognize, at least in theory or in Portuguese. Seeing a Communion liturgy “for home and hospital” I was quick to get a translation. The first line of their affirmation or statement of faith goes:

LÍDER: Não estamos sozinhos. Vivemos no mundo de Deus.
Leader: We are not alone, we live in God’s world.

I thought that looked pretty familiar. Indeed, the whole thing maps to the United Church of Canada’s “New Creed” — that is, up to near the end, when Unitarian theology and habit takes over. The Canadians “proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope” while the Brazilian Unitarians “proclaim the message of Jesus, our model of unconditional love.”

I’ll take either, and hope to hear more from this interesting group.

Film: Good Life

“The Good Life” (U.S. title, “The Good Neighbors”) is one of my favorite 1970s TV shows — the shtick, back to the land, in suburban London — and this Christmas special (“Silly, But It’s Fun”, 1977) is probably my favorite episode.

(And I’m not the only one. Or so says this Guardian blogger, writing “Give me The Good Life every Christmas”)

In the pre-YouTube days, I’d worry about my video tape copy wearing out, now I watch it online.

Argentine Unitarian Christians to hold first worship

If I’m reading the notice correctly, the Unitarian Christian Church of Argentina, in Buenos Aires, will hold its first worship service, for Christmas, at 7:30p.m. on December 29.

From their site, in its entirety:

Culto Navideño – Oración Vespertina
Los invitamos muy cordialmente a participar de nuestro primer culto como congregación cristiana unitaria a llevarse a cabo el próximo martes 29 de Diciembre a las 19:30 hrs en Carlos Calvo 257 (entre Paseo Colón y Balcarce), Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires.

A quick Google check shows the address is the Danish Church.

Three random thoughts:

  • While I know nothing about the minister — nor does he disclose anything, though customarily we recognize indigenous religious leadership — I have a hard time faulting anyone in Geneva bands.
  • Vespers is exactly the kind of worship I’d recommend for a new or small church having a Christmas service. It’s not too long but can scale with the judicious use of music, doesn’t need a sermon, and is less (over)wrought than Lessons and Carols.
  • My great-great grandfather was a Calvo, and perhaps a Carlos Calvo, but he was a Spaniard, not an Argentine publisher.

Blessings for them in this work.