This morning we conclude our review of our Mission, Vision and Values Statements.
This has been an important reminder of who we are, what we stand for and what we hope to mean in our Unity Family, our Community and our world.
Several years ago, we held a workshop to determine our Mission, Vision and Values. As I recall, we had great participation & feedback on developing the statements we chose.
Our values are principles or standards of belief that motivates us to act in certain ways.
Inclusive– We celebrate diversity unconditionally as an expression of Spirit.
Not excluding any particular groups of people: Two weeks ago, I spoke to you about Pride Month, celebrating the acceptance, and achievements of those people who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
We also got to review the Unity Statement of Diversity and Inclusion:
Together we embrace our individuality. We celebrate our uniqueness with full acceptance of all people, including every expression of the Divine. We come together with love and compassion to be a light for all. We stand together in Unity.
It is not only the LGBTQ+ community that we include in our Ministry here at Unity Spiritual Center of Coastal Delaware; it is everyone. Gay, straight, bi, non-binary, different cultures, different abilities, different folks. We strongly and truly believe we are all One.
Spiritual– We honor all people and their paths to Divine Source.
Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things; things of a spiritual, ecclesiastical, or religious nature
It’s about non-religious experiences that help them get in touch with their spiritual selves through quiet reflection, time in nature, private prayer, yoga, or meditation.
It’s correlated with better physical and mental health, including better sleep, lower blood pressure, and an overall lower rate of mortality. Higher levels of spirituality have also been linked to increased compassion, strengthened relationships, and improved self-esteem.
Galen Watts–An instinct toward spirituality appears to be deeply ingrained in humans.
first, that they believe there is more to the world than meets the eye, that is to say, more than the mere material. Second, that they try to attend to their inner life — to their mental and emotional states — in the hopes of gaining a certain kind of self-knowledge. Third, that they value the following virtues: being compassionate, empathetic and open-hearted.
Accepting– We are open and receptive to new ways of thinking, doing and being.
It means to Believe or come to recognize (an opinion, explanation, etc.) as valid or correct;
I like the word acceptance rather than tolerance. I stated at the beginning of the month that I do not care for the word tolerance. And I do not believe anyone would if they looked carefully at the two words.
One of the accepted definitions for tolerance is the allowable deviation from a standard.
I am NOT a deviation. And neither are you. I am a child of God, a divine being, a spiritual being having this human experience. I do not want to be tolerated, I wish to be accepted. Everyone’s desire is to be accepted for who they are.
So we at Unity are willing to listen to new ideas, to read new books and have conversations with others about different ideas. We seek to understand.
Supportive– We care for the community by giving of our time, talents and treasures.
This means providing encouragement or emotional help to our Unity family and the greater community. We agree to be a support in time, talent and treasure so Unity can continue to be a presence & support here in Delaware.
We at Unity wish to be a supportive family to our friends and Unity congregants. We also wish to be supportive to our community through our out-reach programs and our support through our tithes to community and to greater Unity.
Please know that we as a Unity Family are here for you. Reach out to us and let other shear from you as we all go through human experiences.
Please also understand that to be supportive means to support Unity Spiritual Center of Coastal Delaware in every way…time, talent, & treasure. All of you have been made aware of the rent increase here at this Center. That means that, to maintain a presence, we all must step up to aid in maintaining it.
It also means to show up in every way that calls to you. I would love to see you all here in person at the Center. And on those days when you cannot make it, let us know that you are there on FB, joining in with us as we sing and here comforting words in the Message of the day.
Let us know you are there to support us.
Safe– With love in our hearts, we are free to be our authentic selves.
Safe means to be protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; not likely to be harmed or lost. This goes along with being accepted and supported in our Unity Family. We wish to be accepted for who we are, not matter how we express ourselves as long as we are respectful of others.
It also means that we maintain a safe space for us to gather, to discuss different ideas, to sing and to support each other.
Loving– With open hearts, we embrace the best in each person.
To be loving means to feel or show love or great care.
This too, goes along with the other Values. If we are being true to who we truly are, then we are loving, we are accepting; we are supportive.
My mantra throughout most of my life has been, love is the answer. I changed that to loving is the answer, because I came to believe that love must be an action word. Our 5th Principle, we must put action to what we believe.
I am wondering if this discussion of the values we have chosen for Unity Spiritual Center of Coastal Delaware has prompted you to consider what your own personal values are.
Sometimes our personal values are what we have grown up with. However, we often will question those when they go against what we learn as we step away from our families and make a life separate from them.
My values, my integrity is much different than my family. I have lived a very different life than most of my brothers and my sister. And not only because I identify differently from them but also because I have been exposed to many different cultures and lifestyles.
It’s important to know your values, to know what determines your ethical choices.
Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work.
They (should) determine your priorities, and, deep down, they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to.
When the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life is usually good – you’re satisfied and content. But when these don’t align with your personal values, that’s when things feel… wrong. This can be a real source of unhappiness.
This is why making a conscious effort to identify your values is so important.
Values are guides to human behavior.
Abraham Maslow, the groundbreaking psychologist responsible for the hierarchy of needs, also noted that they’re an integral part of self-actualization.
Values reside within. Rather than being created, they’re discovered.
Values are usually fairly stable, yet they don’t have strict limits or boundaries. Also, as you move through life, your values may change. For example, when you start your career, success – measured by money and status – might be a top priority. But after you have a family, work-life balance may be what you value more.
As your definition of success changes, so do your personal values. This is why keeping in touch with your values is a lifelong exercise. You should continuously revisit this, especially if you start to feel unbalanced… and you can’t quite figure out why.
When you define your personal values, you discover what’s truly important to you. A good way of starting to do this is to look back on your life – to identify when you felt really good, and really confident that you were making good choices.
Step 1: Identify the times when you were happiest
Find examples from both your career and personal life. This will ensure some balance in your answers.
- What were you doing?
- Were you with other people? Who?
- What other factors contributed to your happiness?
Step 2: Identify the times when you were most proud
Use examples from your career and personal life.
- Why were you proud?
- Did other people share your pride? Who?
- What other factors contributed to your feelings of pride?
Step 3: Identify the times when you were most fulfilled and satisfied
Again, use both work and personal examples.
- What need or desire was fulfilled?
- How and why did the experience give your life meaning?
- What other factors contributed to your feelings of fulfillment?
Step 4: Determine your top values, based on your experiences of happiness, pride, and fulfillment
Why is each experience truly important and memorable? You can check out Core Values List: Over 50 Common Personal Values (jamesclear.com) to aid your search.
Step 5: Prioritize your top values
This step is probably the most difficult, because you’ll have to look deep inside yourself. It’s also the most important step, because, when making a decision, you’ll have to choose between solutions that may satisfy different values. This is when you must know which value is more important to you.
- Write down your top values, not in any particular order.
- Look at the first two values and ask yourself, “If I could satisfy only one of these, which would I choose?” It might help to visualize a situation in which you would have to make that choice. For example, if you compare the values of service and stability, imagine that you must decide whether to sell your house and move to another country to do valuable foreign aid work, or keep your house and volunteer to do charity work closer to home.
- Keep working through the list, by comparing each value with each other value, until your list is in the correct order.
Step 6: Reaffirm your values
Check your top-priority values, and make sure that they fit with your life and your vision for yourself.
- Do these values make you feel good about yourself?
- Are you proud of your top three values?
- Would you be comfortable and proud to tell your values to people you respect and admire?
- Do these values represent things you would support, even if your choice isn’t popular, and it puts you in the minority?
When you consider your values in decision making, you can be sure to keep your sense of integrity and what you know is right, and approach decisions with confidence and clarity. You’ll also know that what you’re doing is best for your current and future happiness and satisfaction.
Making value-based choices may not always be easy. However, making a choice that you know is right is a lot less difficult in the long run.
Core values are those that are most meaningful, residing at the core of being. Core is defined as “the part of something that is central to its existence or characters,” The image of a seed sprouting is a useful metaphor for growth and self-actualization: there is a place within where the truth of our core values resides.
Not only that, but core originates from the Latin cor, which means heart. Bringing this terminology together gives us “qualities that reside in the heart, shaping who it is you are here to become.”
Due to their significance, core values play a big role in motivation. Why do you do the things you do? It’s likely there are core values that act as intrinsic motivation, below the surface. For example, having a dream to become a millionaire might be less about cold hard cash, more about a core value of freedom and independence.
Take some time to at least ponder your values, your integrity. It is very important, and once you do, you will find that making choices along the way become easier because you KNOW yourself and what is important to your heart.
Let’s Talk about Mission & Vision
So, today and in two weeks, I thought we should review what we stand for…our Mission and Vision this week and our Values next.
We’ve been repeating them for that last month or so, during our Service, for two reasons, at least.
One is to remind us of what they are and two, to remind us of WHO we are.
Some of you were present when we had a Visioning workshop, to determine what our Mission, Vision and Values would be. And now, as we remind ourselves of what we determined they should be, we also review them to make sure they still fit.
Our Mission: We explore spiritual consciousness in a loving, accepting community through teaching and living universal spiritual principles.
What does that mean to you? Not to our physical space, but to YOU?
Think about it for a moment…..
Now let’s look at each part of the statement:
‘explore spiritual consciousness’
I would guess that we can all agree what ‘explore’ means: inquire into or discuss (a subject or issue) in detail,to examine or evaluate (an option or possibility)
We have all explored many times in our lives, and many different things. When talking about exploring here, we are attempting to discover who we are, what we identify with, what we believe. And not to just BE that, but to actually see if it fits.
Consciousness is an Awareness to feel the presence of this physical existence and beyond. It’s an Awakening to a non-dualism. It is a dimension beyond the mind and physical body. It is a light within you nor any object as the light that shines within you. Light itself is a consciousness, which means there is no dualism, it is One. Consciousness is an Openness.
‘loving’; feeling or showing love or great care. Our Unity Community certainly does show great love for each other, for our greater community and our world. We do this by welcoming others into our Service and Community as they choose to check Unity out, to see what we are all about.
We do this by reaching out to our Unity family and, in turn to the greater family and community by helping each other, by holding space as we each encounter our personal ‘growth opportunities,’ and by our outreach to the greater community by our tithes, and collection of needed products, by our Clean-up crew caring for our environment outside as well as doing our part for the environment as much as possible inside our space.
‘accepting community’: tending to regard different types of people and ways of life with tolerance and acceptance: the act of accepting something or someone
What does this mean to you?
Personally, I’m not wild about the word tolerance, I don’t wish to be tolerated. I don’t mean that everyone need meet me with open arms either, but know me as I am, not as others wish I was.
We in Unity try our hardest to be very accepting of all races and cultures, and orientations. That does not mean we do it all the time, but we sure do try our hardest AND we forgive ourselves and ask forgiveness of others when we miss the mark.
Unity traditionally, hasn’t done the best in this regard, historically, but they are making amends and I certainly try my hardest to follow through with this part of our Mission.
‘through teaching’: and how do we do this? By our Sunday Services, and our classes. By the books we promote and the messages we share online and in conversations.
- ‘living’: and by living our Truth, our 5th Principle It is not enough to understand spiritual teachings. We must apply our learning in all areas of life, incorporating them into our thoughts, words, and actions.
- We show the world who we are, sometimes a moment at a time through our actions, toward ourselves and others, and the whole of the world.
‘universal’ of, affecting, or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group; applicable to all cases. Universal Laws are all encompassing. They are not physical laws that we discover as we learn more, like finding out about Black Holes.
They are Spiritual and govern everything and everyone.
‘spiritual principles’; Spiritual principles are timeless Truths, not tied to any specific religious, philosophical, or spiritual tradition. Spiritual practices reflect how we live them and vary based on the specific religious and spiritual traditions we adhere to.
Our Spiritual Principles are:
God is everywhere and always present in every circumstance. This divine energy underlies and animates all of existence.
- Human beings are innately good because they are connected to and an expression of Spirit.
- Our thoughts have creative power to influence events and determine our experiences.
- Prayer and meditation connect and align us to our own spiritual nature and to God.
- It is not enough to understand spiritual teachings. We must apply our learning in all areas of life, incorporating them into our thoughts, words, and actions.
Here is the reading I choose for today…
I give expression to the Christ Spirit within me in thought, word, and deed.
My mission, my calling in life, is to give expression to the Christ Spirit within me. Then whatever I do will be done from the wisdom of my soul, from divine love and understanding.
No matter what may be ahead this day, I will go about doing what I am called to do by the Christ of my being. Then I know the pure satisfaction of letting the divine within me become a part of my thoughts, conversations, and actions.
The Christ Spirit within me is unlimited wisdom, love, and life. As I open myself fully to giving expression to divine qualities, I relate well with those I know and those I am just getting to know. In answering the call of the Christ, I am also honoring the Christ
Next, let’s review our Vision Statement: We embrace a positive path for spiritual living to create a kinder, more compassionate world.
As you read the statement are you following it?
Do you embrace a positive path for spiritual living? Are you creating a kinder, more compassionate world?
In other words, are you doing your part to be part of the solution or have you missed the mark some, and are creating part of the problem?
We all miss the mark from time to time. We get caught up in our stories, our history. We forget that we only have NOW. No past, no future.
Oh, there is history. We all have memories. But are our memories dictating our lives or are they just reminiscences of some past day or person, and we can smile at the love we shared with them or recall the lesson we’ve learned from the past situation so we do not repeat it again and again.
And our future is not something we need to focus on, only prepare as needed, but live each day. Be present.
What happens if we are not in the NOW? WE may miss important happenings. May miss important lessons. May miss the beauty of each moment, each flower, each smile.
Welcome back to Unity Spiritual Center!
It’s great to be back with you. I had a nice break, got to visit folks in PA. And I never get done what I hope to when I take a break, whether it’s a sabbatical or a day.
First, I ask that you take a moment and refer back to our Opening Statement…what is mine to do? That question I ask you to contemplate each week and pray that you do. And then, when you realize what is yours to do, put feet to your prayers, because prayer without action is nothing but idle words.
Only you can determine what is yours to do, whatever the question…whether gun violence or the environment or how much money to spend on your grandkids! Contemplation and prayer followed by steps forward.
Did you know, according to science…we on average have 4000 weeks in our lives. At this point, many of us have way fever that that, myself included. So, figure out if you are doing what is yours to do. And if not, then search your soul to find that magic thing that makes your heart & soul sing. Then, Principle 5…put feet to that prayer.
You may be aware that June is Pride Month. Much like Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and many other minorities, the United States has honored many different minorities to shed light on the achievements these groups have made in a country where they often faced discrimination.
I can imagine that many of you have had or know someone who has experienced discrimination, often based upon stereotypes. I have experienced many instances, myself. It can be unpleasant.
And so I would like to bring some awareness to this month and the minority group we honor, the many folks who identify as Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Non-binary, and all the forms that, as humans, our sexuality and gender identity expresses.
These different months, honoring the cultures and contributions of the different peoples is an important reminder that we all have something to offer to our communities and our country and our world.
There are many things our world would be without or at least farther behind in development if it were not for members of the LGBT+ community and their scientific and industrial contributions. Our computers, IPhones, even helicopters! People like Alan Turing, Tim Cook, and of course many actors and scientists and athletes.
The point being, in every culture, we have received many helpful and, in some instances, life-saving cures, due to the many contributions made by this group of folks.
But that recognition is only part of the reason we celebrate Pride.
The 1950s and 1960s the United States was an extremely repressive legal and social period for LGBT people. And I can imagine, decades prior to that also.
I can recall my experiences as I realized that I was, at the very least, bi-sexual. The things authorities used to harass members even suspected of being gay were frightening, and in some instances, life threatening.
There are many documentaries and films about the lives of LGBT+ folks. Some include “Paris is Burning”, “The Boys in the Band”, “Moonlight”, and “But I’m a Cheerleader” which talks about conversion therapy which was often pushed on teenagers by their parent and Religious communities.
Another good documentary, if interested, is “The Bible Tells Me So”, about homosexuality and its perceived conflict with Christianity, as well as various interpretations of what the Bible says about sexual orientation.
Most people understand that the Bible does not mention homosexuality and, in fact, if the verses that are promoted against it were truly understood in their historic and cultural significance, there is no statement against it.
We often forget that our Way-Shower, Jesus, was all about Love…not hate or prejudice.
So, this month we celebrate Gay Pride to promote self-affirming, equality, individual dignity and the increased visibility and therefore understanding of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters.
This is to counter the shame and social stigma that have been a part of our lives for too long. And, unfortunately, it is still. And sometimes it seems as if it is going again, against all the forward progress we have made.
If we have to continue to fight for equality, no matter the minority, then this is not the United States that our constitution claims it to be.
What started out in 1969, as riots that broke out after a raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City and continues to today, Pride marches on a much larger public scale.
Although there were signs of protest prior to Stonewall, the movement became more focused and public after that riot. The LGBT community began to organize and to fight back. Interestingly, LGBT and Women’s movements used the Black Community for equality as a starting point and reference.
Three presidents of the United States have officially declared a pride month. First, President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month” in 1999 and 2000. Then from 2009 to 2016, each year he was in office, President Barack Obama declared June LGBT Pride Month. Later, President Joe Biden declared June LGBTQ+ Pride Month in 2021. Donald Trump became the first Republican president to acknowledge LGBT Pride Month in 2019, but he did so through tweeting rather than an official proclamation.
“I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.–Proclamation by U.S President Barack Obama, May 28, 2010
Obama designated the Stonewall Inn a national monument, too. “Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights,” he said in a statement. “I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country, the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us.”
Although the belief system behind LGBT+ Pride is to promote love and acceptance for everyone, no matter what their gender identity or sexuality is, not everyone sees it that way. Pride events are frequently met with the question, “Why isn’t there are a straight pride month?”
LGBT+ Pride is meant to celebrate the new attitude America, as well as the rest of the world, has about gender and sexuality. People in the LGBT community have been shunned and ostracized for years and years, and finally are at a point in our culture where we can accept and celebrate other sexualities. It’s not that we shouldn’t be celebrating heterosexuality, it’s that we’ve never lived in an America where doing so was unacceptable. LGBT+ pride is a triumph for America to see how far we’ve come as a country, and a way for us to honor people who have risked their safety and their lives to make the world a more loving and acceptable place for people of all sexualities. Although we’ve come a long way, we still have quite a bit of work to do to ensure that everyone can safely and happily celebrate their identities, not just during June, but all the time.
Why is being able to be ourselves important? I believe to be able to connect with our higher self, we must know ourselves and accept who we are. Even if we acknowledge that there may be something we would rather change, we must know and accept ourselves first. That is how we become authentic.
We want to live authentic lives as much as possible.
My struggle for acceptance of myself and by others was long and is still something I work on. I have come to accept myself on many levels, but understand that, as long as I am in physical body, there is work to do.
When I realized my sexuality, some people supported me and others did not. It took my family a long time to, at the very least, tolerate me. I really dislike that word. I wanted to be accepted!
I was kicked out of the house by my father. Separated from my siblings, the youngest two who I considered MY kids because I had raised them until I went off to college.
That was hard.
But in that separation, I got to accept more and more of me. I had to be careful, because it was still illegal to teach and be gay.
I did find acceptance from friends and eventually had some reconciliation with my family. I worked hard to be a part of that family, even though I was never really completely a part of them.
My Mother finally came around and we had a wonderful relationship when she passed. Something we both worked on. It’s that 5th principle!
They were grateful for my becoming more honest with them. But some friendships ended. They weren’t built on truth but on a false self I had projected.
The important people in my life, and I would suspect, most LGBT+ folks, are happy to know the real me.
AS Rev. Michael Gott has stated:
The other thing that saved me was Unity. I wasn’t necessarily the most understandable person when I was younger. I had a lot of anger and hurt by my family and the religion that I tried and tried again to find some solace.
It took a bit of time, but finally a friend told me about Unity. I started attending and soon was taking classes to eventually become licensed and to be able to spread the word here.
In Unity, we believe God is absolute good. And because all people exist within and as part of this divine energy, each of us is also inherently good.
I am also incredibly grateful to be a part of a spiritual community that recognizes my uniqueness as a gift from God.
This path to authenticity has been so healing for me. I believe it is universal.
Unity Leaves No One Out
Unity extends an explicit invitation to members of the LGBTQ+ community, who we know have often been rejected by spiritual communities because of who they are or who they love. Through prayer, publishing, and community outreach, we are committed to respecting the dignity of every human being—and that includes their gender identity/expression.
The Unity movement is open and welcoming of all individuals regardless of race, color, gender, age, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity, physical disability, or sexual orientation. We invite you to read our formal (yet ever-evolving) statement of diversity and inclusion.
Together we embrace our individuality. We celebrate our uniqueness with full acceptance of all people, including every expression of the Divine. We come together with love and compassion to be a light for all. We stand together in Unity.
We see many symbols for Pride, the most prominent is the Flag:
Original flag and is representations
Hot Pink symbolizes sex
Red equals life
Orange symbolizes healing
Yellow stands for sunlight
Green represents nature
Turquoise equals magic & art
Indigo stands for serenity
Violet represents the spirit of LGBTQ people
We all might want to keep in mind that someone you love could be a member of the LGBTQ+ Community.
THERE ARE NO STRANGERS. I AM CONSTANTLY AWARE OF THE LOVING CHRIST IN ALL PEOPLE.
Ye are no more strangers . . . but ye are fellow-citizens . . . of the household of God. EPH. 2:19.
WE NEED never feel timid or hesitant, for there are no strangers. The Christ is the same in each of us. He looks on us lovingly through the eyes of other persons, just as He looks lovingly on other persons through our eyes.
In the heart of every person with whom we are not yet well acquainted, there abides the divine friend, the Christ. He is waiting for us to behold Him, to recognize Him. He is waiting for us to express good will to Him.
It is as though He were saying: “These persons are not strangers. I, the Christ, am coming to you in a new guise. You know Me. Look for Me. Silently let My Spirit in you speak to My Spirit in all whom you have thought of as strangers. My Spirit, the Spirit you share, is a friendly Spirit, an understanding Spirit. As you depend on my Spirit, you will find there are no more strangers, there are only new friends, blessed friends.”
Watch your thoughts, watch your words, watch your actions.