I think I have fallen in love! He is quite the looker – blonde hair, big blue eyes, a charming smile. And he seems so open to new experiences, curious and engaged with life. But one of the best parts is that he loves to dance! (And, just so you know, his older brother is a charmer, too!)

If you were at the Fall Social on October 14, you know who I ‘m talking about. His name is Luke – the youngest child of Emerson members Katie and Kent, younger brother to James. Luke cuts a mean rug. He and James and I, along with several other beautiful children and adults, had a great time moving to the music that night. Luke stole everyone’s heart, I think. I mean he can barely stand up and yet he was grooving! Of course, Mom Katie helped some.

The whole point of the evening was to have some fun together after all that we’ve been through in the wake of Harvey. I want to thank everyone who made it such fun – lots of good food, good libations, good conversation – and good dancing! Maybe a little too much dancing on my part. I had slipped and fallen on my left knee at a meeting at another church earlier in the week (water on a linoleum floor) and was favoring that knee, such that two hours straight of dancing put my right hip a little out of joint. So now I’m limping. (Yeah, I know I have to get it checked out – going to the doc today as a matter of fact; but, still, it was worth it!)

Monday evening, October 16, saw a different kind of party in Westwood Hall. Emerson hosted a lecture by the Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Church and State (AU) that night. Preceding the lecture there was a small reception for community leaders, the Houston AU Board and Clergy Advisory Board (on which I serve), and others. The Rev. Lynn is retiring after twenty-five years of indefatigable defense of the principle of religious liberty – the right of every person to believe or not believe according to their own conscience – and the constitutional principle of separation of church and state – that the government does not favor one faith over another or promote religion over non-religion.

The Rev. Lynn has probably spoken at hundreds of Unitarian Universalist congregations over his 25 year tenure at Americans United (AU). It is natural that AU would find a welcoming venue in UU churches, since one of the founding tenets of our faith tradition is freedom of conscience. AU and the UUA have allied innumerable times over the years in legislative and judicial battles when religious liberty has been in jeopardy. It was a honor to host Lynn’s Houston farewell appearance. But it was also a reminder of how gravely these principles are at risk under the current administration and of the need for continued opposition on the part of those who understand that religious freedom is the cornerstone of a just and equitable society. If the current administration gets its way, various kinds of blatant discrimination would be sanctioned simply by arguing that it violated one’s religious beliefs. For example, an anti-abortion boss could deny you contraceptive coverage in your employee health plan or a homophobic restauranteur could deny you and your same-sex lover service simply by saying it was “against their religion.” I commend AU to you.

Two very different parties. But connected by care and concern. Care and concern for one another within our walls; and, care and concern for all people.

In faith and affection,

Becky Edmiston-Lange