Denny Davidoff’s Memorial Service
I had promised to share Denny Davidoff’s Memorial Service for those of you who knew her or want to see what an amazing woman she was. Her son John let me know that the Memorial Service is now on YouTube.
Can you find me in the choir?
I miss Denny. Tonight we had a meeting of our church’s Year Round Stewardship Committee. She was a key part of our work. So that meeting this evening where I mentioned Denny is my first event of today’s synchronicity.
Relationships and Community – More Synchronicity
The second event of the synchronicity is the training I did last Saturday. I trained our Unitarian Church’s “Visiting Stewards.” These are the people who agree to call on fellow congregants to ask them to make a pledge.
We build our budget in large part – about 65% in the current year – around what we expect to receive in the pledges during the next fiscal year. I am treasurer of the church. I am eager to see a successful annual budget drive.
Our Senior Minister Rev. Dr. John Morehouse and I did the training together, as we had done last year. We’re a good team.
I started with an “ice-breaker,” asking everyone to share their most fun experience of the preceding week which included Valentine’s Day. Then Rev. John led us in a brief worship. He then introduced basics of “donor-centric” fundraising. The emphasis, he stressed, should be on listening to the person or people you’re calling on.
You as the Visiting Steward, he told us, can certainly share your own thoughts, but primarily you want to encourage the other people to talk. You can ask leading questions like, “How did you find the church? What keeps you coming? Do you come for more than the worship service?”
He recommended using phrases like, “Tell me more,” or “That’s so interesting, can you explain?” Basically what we’re doing is building relationships! As Rev. John said, “People give to people.”
I talked about our budget, describing the main categories of income and expense. There were some interesting questions. One I didn’t know the answer to, but will try to find out tomorrow, is, “What is the per child cost of Religious Education, or what I’ve always thought of as Sunday School?”
Rev. John responded to the questioner by saying that he regards Religious Education as a service we provide for congregants’ participation, not something we expect people to pay for. “We don’t charge people for participating in our Social Justice programs, or in the choir,” he said.
We closed the training by having the Visiting Stewards ask each other for their pledges! Our annual budget drive will take place during the month of March.
Living in Community: Lessons from Africa
The third synchronous event is the talk I will give in Austin, Texas on Saturday. It’s for the Southwest Unitarian Universalist Women’s Conference.
The title is “Living in Community: Lessons from Africa.” I’m using some of the material I prepared for my class at Fairfield’s Bigelow Center for Senior Activities. The class lasted four weeks, almost two hours each time.
The talk in Austin is only one hour and 20 minutes. And I want time for questions.
The first lesson is how language and names can build relationships. I’ll explain “Onyemelukwe,” what it means and how to say it. Other names, those of our children and grandchildren, will also be included in the explanation.
I’ll describe some of the familiar ways people speak to each other. When I just learning Igbo and learning customs, men and women in the village sometimes called me nwunyem, meaning “my wife.” I was surprised.
Soon I learned that it’s the way to be inclusive, to show you are part of the clan or even part of the village. We use similar expressions for children, saying “my child,” or “our child,” to a child who may not be directly related.
I’ll share some of the other lessons from Africa with you later.
Do you think that missing Denny Davidoff, teaching visiting stewards about relationship-building, and preparing a speech on “Lessons from Africa” about building community, are examples of synchronicity? I do.
The Google dictionary says synchronicity is, “the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.”
All the relationships – that’s what I meant!
Meeting a Friend
In Austin I’ll also see my friend Carol, also married to an Igbo man, whom I knew well in Nigeria.
Carol has lived in Texas for many years. She has six children, overlapping ours in age. I’ve mentioned her daughter Ifeoma who is the co-writer and director of “Hear Word.”
l’m looking forward to catching up on our lives and our children’s lives.