Learning techniques to meet another simply and effectively.

Published August 25, 2016

Greetings, friends:

Last Saturday, more than 230 speakers of the constructed language Esperanto simultaneously met in twenty-five cities in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Cuba for fellowship, playing games and (of course) using the language. I was one of them, and it was lots of fun. The idea, which translates as Parallel Universe, was new. In Europe, Esperantists have long vacations, a critical mass of speakers (and planners) and short travel distances, In North America, the opposite is true.

How does this pertain to Universalist Christianity? The way we (Esperantists) came together can be an inspiration for us Universalist Christians. In time, it will be important that we gather, but few of us have Universalist Christian churches to attend; there simply aren’t any in most of the United States, much less the world. Like Esperantists, we are thin on the ground and there’s nobody to produce a full-scale conference.

Now, to some specifics. To be clear, I was not an organizer, but it seems that the organizers’ role evolved from sharing an idea, and developing joint branding – as the idea took off – to creating a website, keyed to the Facebook and Google Group threads where the plans were being hashed out in public.

Logistics were kept minimal. There were no tickets or registration fee. There was a sign-up process, but I missed it; there was also a sign-in sheet. The event started at lunch and ended with dinner. Not only did that frame the day, but simplified planning by choosing restaurants or sometimes picnicking. It also allowed people from a few hours away to drive in and drive home without requiring a hotel stay. (The Washington, D.C. gathering had people in from as far as a hundred miles away.)

Each group had an organizer, but that might be as basic a someone who finds a restaurant and gives directions: several of the groups had four or five attendees. Universalist Christians would probably want to have a period of worship, so a second person might be commissioned to lead that.

The “stuff” of the day would be different between Esperantists and Universalist Christians, but the sharing of photos and messages – though social media and private texting groups – is worth repeating, as is being generous with thanks and open to new, improving ideas.

There are things we cannot do, but we can meet from time to time and be a part of one anothers’ lives.

Sincerely yours, (The Rev.) Scott Wells