Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Category Archives: Uu Movement

On Behalf of a Grateful Nation — Sermon by Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on May 25th, 2014 As both a Unitarian Universalist Minister, and as a Reserve Military Chaplain, I have conducted over a dozen military funerals    and memorial services. They were all for veterans of WWII, of Korea, and of Vietnam… I’ve never been called upon to lead a memorial Read more →

“Partner Church” by Rev. David Baumbaugh

The church I currently serve is in an affluent New Jersey suburb of New York City. When I came to the church, almost nine years ago, it had a modest budget which was never quite adequate to its needs a budget supported by an annual pledge drive which always a Read more →

“In a World” by Scott W. Alexander

In a world with so much hatred and violence, We need a religion that proclaims the inherent worth and diginity of every person. In a world with so much brutality and fear, We need a religion that seeks justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. In a world with so Read more →

Tamara Payne-Alex for UUA Moderator

Dearest Fellow Unitarian Universalists, Two weeks ago, I mailed in my off-site delegate ballot for the election of a new Moderator for the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.  My vote was for Tamara Payne-Alex, and I am writing to encourage you to vote for her as well. The reason I Read more →

Beyond Military Borders — Homily at PSWD-UUA District Assembly 2012

I have received multiple requests for copies of the homily that I presented at the UUA Pacific Southwest District Assembly this year, and instead of continuing to email it out, I thought I would publish it here at Celestial Lands.  The task was to reflect on what “Beyond Borders” meant Read more →

In and Between — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on March 18th 2012.   Reading “Beneath all our diversity, behind all our differences, there is a unity of the spirit that makes us one, and binds us forever together in spite of time, and death, and the space between the stars”. Rev. David Bumbaugh Sermon     “In and Read more →

What Would a UU Religious Order Look Like?

One of the first essays I ever wrote in seminary, and the first essay I ever had published, was on the need for Unitarian Universalism to develop integrated spiritual practices that can be shared and engaged by large groups of Unitarian Universalists.  In that essay, I make the case that Read more →

The Center of a Liberal Faith Movement

What it means to be a Unitarian Universalist has been on my heart this last week.  Not surprisingly, considering that many UU’s are currently thinking about similar things in reaction to the recent white paper from Rev. Peter Morales titled “Congregations and Beyond”.  I know there is a lot behind Read more →

Our Responsibility to those Beyond Our Walls

Break not that circle of enabling love, Where people grow, forgiven and forgiving, Break not that circle, make it wider still, Till it includes, embraces all the living. –Hymn 323, Singing the Living Tradition Recently, the conversation has begun again about what makes a Unitarian Universalist.  Are you only a Read more →

UU Military Chaplains and the Cross

Unitarian Universalists are almost always surprised when they see me wearing the Christian Cross on my Army Chaplain uniform.  Perhaps they should not be, given the Christian ancestry of our two founding denominations, but they are.  Reactions have ranged from mild curiosity to outrage to some deep pastoral need.  On Read more →

Our Feelings on Supporting Ministries

Over the past few months, I’ve been surprised by some of the reactions from colleagues and former colleagues about my decision to accept an Assistant Minister position.  Those reactions have covered a broad range of concern and emotion… all of which was heartfelt.  I do not want this article to Read more →

General Assembly Day 5: Passionate Arguments for Our Faith’s Center

I want to say on Celestial Lands what I said in person to many people about the overall “theme” for this General Assembly.  In my most humble opinion, the overall theme was not the 50th Anniversary of the UUA.  It was not where we will be as a religion in Read more →

General Assembly Day 3: A Tale of Two GA’s…

I remember my first General Assembly many moons ago.  I was so excited for the opportunity for all the workshops I could ever dream of on every aspect of church life, of theology, and of our ecclesiological history.  I packed each moment full of engaging panel discussions, of plenary sessions, Read more →

General Assembly Day 2: Lions, Tigers, and Ministerial Authority, Oh My!

One of the things that always amazes me about my time at a General Assembly is how different my experience is depending on what I wear.  Now, for most people this might not be literally true, but it my case it is.  Let’s take the first and second days of Read more →

General Assembly Day 1: Unitarian Universalists of the Holy Spirit

As I sat in the second row, center aisle of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2011 General Assembly of the UUA, next to my military chaplain colleagues, what struck me most about the service was how many times the word “Spirit” came into the ceremony/celebration/worship service.  By the time I Read more →

Blogging the UUA General Assembly

As I did last year, I once again intend to write an article here at Celestial Lands for each day of the General Assembly in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Sandy and I are here in Charlotte, checked into the hotel suite of rooms we annually share with the Rev. Katie Norris Read more →

A Tribute to the Rev. Barbara Pescan

The following were my words at the Tribute and Celebration of the ministry of Rev. Barbara Pescan, at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, on June 4th, 2011… I remember a day at General Assembly in Ft. Lauderdale in 2008.  A few weeks after Barbara had sprinkled some pixie dust on Read more →

Unionized Ministry

Recently, I had the honor and privilege to meet Rev. Don Southworth, the current Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA), at the Spring Minister’s Retreat for the Heartland Chapter of the UUMA. This is my first year as a “regular member” and not a student member of Read more →

Dawn Breaks on “Offer Day”

It is an interesting part of being an Interim Minister, that you come to love a congregation, that you have ministered among them, that you have hopes and dreams for them, that you are an intimate part of a religious community… and you know that you are only there to Read more →

Generations of Ministerial Colleagues

Last week I attended the First Year Minister’s Seminar at the UUA Headquarters at 25 Beacon Street in Boston. The program was great… it was good to hear directly from the many different UUA staff offices, and the conversation I had about my theory of social justice with a senior UU Read more →

Faith is Hard… and Liberal Religion Needs Some

One of the earliest articles I wrote here at Celestial Lands is one where I seek to define, for myself, the meaning of faith (that faith is not belief, it is “sacred trust”). I sometimes think we Unitarian Universalists and others of Liberal Religion have a harder time coping with Read more →

Church Life, Alcohol, and Me

Every year at this time of year I end up having the conversation with someone (usually a congregant) about church life, me, and alcohol. There is a familiar flow to the conversation, and I thought this year, after having one conversation with a friend and ministerial colleague along these lines Read more →

The Journey from Conservative to Liberal

I remember a day in seventh grade when I came home all excited to tell my parents that I had discovered that I was a Liberal. We had been studying the American political system in social studies class, and in our textbook was a little box that showed the typical Read more →

Glowing Coal

Something that regular readers of the Celestial Lands might have picked up on… and something that anyone who has been in a congregation I have served as a minister probably could not have missed… is that I love our congregations. I love the congregations of this Liberal Faith Tradition we Read more →

Military Chaplaincy, Congregational Ministry, and a Year of Discernment

I’ve written before about liminality, and about living in liminal spaces. To live in a liminal space is to live without certainty… to live without knowing what the outcomes of life will be, and to allow that creative not-knowing to develop new patterns and new possibilities. We humans are not Read more →

Commonalities in Liberal Faith

This summer I had the privledge to preach a four part summer sermon series at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL, that has explored what some of the ties between us as Unitarian Universalists may be.  I specifically sought to name some things that are rarely said, and to make Read more →

Meetings and Meeting

For the past week I have been with the congregation I am serving as an Interim Minister, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland Michigan. In fact, this is my inaugural article for Celestial Lands written in the ministerial study of the Fellowship. They are a congregation easy to love, in Read more →

Method, Message, and Meaning Making — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on July 18th, 2010   Reading  Excerpt from “The Method is the Message” by Angus McLean The liberal is beginning to discover that she is more in tune with natural processes than are her maligners. The liberal has been accused of not knowing where he stood, or of Read more →

Bridging Day becomes Car Repair Day becomes Baby Day: General Assembly 2010 Day 3

Day 3 of General Assembly for me went all off kilter, but became a time of relationship building, maintining, and creating. Read more →

Opening Day: GA 2010 Day 1

Reflections on the First Day of General Assembly 2010: Seeing colleagues and friends, and the most Freudian Chalice Lighting of All Time! Read more →

The Liminal Space of Intentional Not-Knowing

The last month has been a liminal space for me, as I have intentionally stayed in a space of not-knowing when it comes to what the next few years will bring. Perhaps there is a key to understanding our faith tradition in such liminality. Read more →

Ordained, and Thank You…

My thank you to everyone who participated in and helped to make my ordination by the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL such a wonderful event… if a long one… Read more →

Long Robes and Titles – Reflection Upon my Upcoming Ordination

What does it mean when someone calls a minister “Reverend”? Is it an honorific, or is it perhaps something else. Not an academic question for me anymore… Read more →

Arizona GA Boycott: Why Phoenix and Not Ft. Lauderdale?

What is the difference between moving the UUA General Assembly away from Arizona, and why the UUA General Assembly 2008 was not moved away from Ft. Lauderdale, FL? Read more →

UU’s Element on the Periodic Table

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy Apparently, scientists have created a new element, numbering 117 on the periodic table. While they are attempting to re-create the element in another lab, it has been given the name “Ununseptium”, with the symbol on the periodic table Read more →

Service of Ordination at the Unitarian Church of Evanston Illinois

I am honored to announce that, on Sunday June 6th at 4pm, the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL will Ordain me, David Pyle, as a Unitarian Universalist Minister. Visit the link below to RSVP. Fomal invitations will be mailed by the congregation soon to ministers, family, and colleagues. https://www.rsvpmenow.com/rsvpbeta/?id=20919 Yours in Faith,  David

Religions of Differentiation

At around 18 years old I decided I was no longer a Southern Baptist. There were many reasons for that decision. At the time I would have said that I just could no longer accept the contradictions inherent in accepting the Bible as literal truth, or that the hypocrisy I Read more →

Standing on the Side of Reflection and Practice

I want to be very clear at the beginning of this article that it applies to the religious right, the religious center, and the religious left, and I’m going to focus on the religious left. This is something within human nature, not within specific religious traditions. If there is a difference Read more →

It’s Time We Studied War

The few weeks around Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day tend to be heavy preaching for me. In several of the services this year, I was reminded of one of our standard hymns during this time, declaring that we will “Study War No More”. What struck me is that, though it Read more →

My Visit With the UUA Ministerial Fellowship Committee

You may have noticed Celestial Lands has been abnormally quiet these past few weeks. It has actually been about six weeks since I was last in my regular writing/reflection spiritual practice here at Celestial Lands. That is because six weeks ago I made the decision to move my meeting with Read more →

The Theological Context of My Ministry

One part of preparing to see the Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the UUA is to write a paper detailing the Theological Context of my Ministry (in 2 pages… you try it sometime!).  Not only have I shared this paper privately with some mentors and colleagues, but I also shared it Read more →

Unitarian Universalism as a Postmodern Religious Faith

There are many different “models” we use to try to describe and understand this living, growing religious faith we call Unitarian Universalism. The most common one is to describe us as a “non-creedal” faith, saying that we are a church that sets no creed or dogma for membership. While that Read more →

You Want to Join the Military? But We’re UU’s!!!

Over the last several years, I have had the privilege to be with several Unitarian Universalist families as they struggled through the complex emotions that arise around a loved one deciding to join the military. Recently, some ministers have even referred such families to me, and I thought it would Read more →

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