As I write this, I’m attending UNCO13 West, which is “an unconference for church leaders, pastors, families, and seminarians.” I heard about it as a gathering for people who are doing creative innovative things with religion and technology and churches reaching out to people under 40. But what made me decide to attend was this statement on the UNCO Web site: “If church is for families, and UNCO is about doing church in new, different and better ways, then UNCO is for families.”
By way of comparison, on Friday and Saturday I was at retreat for Unitarian Universalist ministers:— no spouses, no children, not even any child care. There is a feeling among this group of ministers that they need to have time away from anyone who is not ordained. Although I understand the desire for a time and place where ministers feel they can talk completely openly about their ministries, I’m not sure this desire for complete separation serves us particularly well. We’re not that special, that we have to hold ourselves apart from non-ministers.
So the opening meeting of UNCO13 West has just finished. And yes, there were children: a couple of babies, a couple of toddlers, and three or four older kids. During the opening prayer, some of the babies were vocalizing, but no one cared. Children were wandering around during the orientation, and no one minded. It was nice — a powerful statement that here was a group of people who, as they figure out new ways to do religion, were committed to including everyone.