Unitarian Universalist congregations offer unique examples of covenantal communities, where the authority over various aspects of the community is governed by agreements of relationship rather than brokering of power. In this sermon [PDF], the Rev. Dr. Michael Schuler, senior minister at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisconsin, explores different types of authority in different models of religion, with great insight into how power structures in Unitarian Universalist congregations enable a richer spiritual life for our members through emphasis on individual freedom and responsibility.
authority, community, conviction, covenant, leadership, Michael Schuler, responsibility
On Whose Authority?
by Rev. Dr. Michael A. Schuler
Several weeks ago The Wall Street Journal reported on an emerging trend in certain conservative Christian congregations. As an example, the story pointed to the experience of a seventy-one year old woman, Karolyn Caskey, who had been expelled from the Allen Baptist Church in southwest Michigan.
Mrs. Caskey had been for many years a pillar of that small congregation. A member for half a century, she tithed 10% of her pension and had been a dedicated Sunday School teacher. “She’s one of the nicest, kindest people I know,” one of her neighbors observed. Nevertheless, one Sunday morning last June Mrs. Caskey was handcuffed and escorted from the small whitewashed Baptist church by a Michigan state trooper and a sheriff’s deputy. The charge was trespassing.