Welcome

However you found me, welcome to my website and blog.

Over the past few years I’ve been writing, volunteering, speaking, and working with a variety of nonprofit organizations that I believe in.

I am currently a Candidate for Unitarian Universalist Ministry and a Seminarian at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Beginning this fall, I will be a Ministerial Intern at First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn, NY. I will also be a Learning Fellow with the Church of the Larger Fellowship.

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Humanist Prayers

Seminary changes you. Or at least it has changed me. I describe it as becoming simultaneously more yourself and someone different. My personal theology has not changed greatly, I’m still a Humanist. I do not believe in a supernatural deity. I believe we human beings are the ones needed to change things for the better and those responsible for when they in fact get worse.

I more strongly identify with Unitarian Universalism than when I began this journey, which makes sense and is a positive outcome since I am studying to be a UU minister. I have expanded my religious humanist thoughts to religious naturalism but that feels like a small shift in the grand scheme of things.

Then I started praying. This past summer, I completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in a hospital. I was basically an Intern Chaplain for ten of the most intense weeks of my life. My very first day, I walked into a hospital room to talk to a patient and was asked to pray. The patient was Catholic, I have never been that (but do have many Catholics in my life). She and her daughter were scared of what was about to happen. Scared of the unknown, the possibility of death, the possibility of being separated.

So, I prayed. I don’t remember the words I used but having rarely prayed in my life I held their hands and then didn’t know how to start… and then I said “Dear God.”

After that, I spoke about hope. Hope for the success of the upcoming procedure. Hope for the skill of the medical staff. Recognition of all the lives touched by the life I was praying for. Recognition that so many people not there were impacted by the lives in that hospital room.

I spoke about love, and I spoke about the power of their Catholic faith. I didn’t make promises. And then I ended in a Catholic way “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Not my way but theirs. This prayer was for them not me. Something given by me to them to show that I, a stranger with the title of Chaplain cared about them and recognized their faith as important and powerful in their lives.

I believe prayer calls our attention to what matters in our lives. In this moment what mattered was holding on to hope for the success of this procedure. The delaying of mortality for a day, or week, or month, or longer. What mattered was that I recognized the people whose hands I held we human beings and connected by love and relationship to people that cared deeply for them.

Having now prayed for individuals, congregations, and yes even by myself. I think that the commonality of prayer is that we each need to be reminded and have our attention called to hope, love, and connection to something beyond the individual.

Some call this God, I consider this to be the best of Humanity. I can pray for that.

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Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/christianoliverharris/

Will my child have a mother?

Growing up, I knew who my mother was. She was the center of my world, a single parent who never made me wonder why I didn’t have more than one around regularly. She mommed me enough for two or more parents. In fact, to this day I not only wish her a happy mother’s day, I wish her a happy father’s day as well. She covered all the parenting I could have ever wanted and then some.

As my husband Justin and I consider parenthood in the coming years, I have begun to wonder. Even with two of us, will my child have a mother? What is a mother? I think my mom is more than the person who gave birth to me. She is the one who raised me, guided me, protected me, and prepared me to be an adult in the world.

Though, the more I reflect on having a child, the scarier it is to me. Part of my heart already belongs to Justin, with all the risks and wonders that comes with that. To impart more pieces to a child seems to be the most incredible gamble of all. More than that, to have responsibility for raising someone into an adult human being that will make decisions about so many things in their lives based on what I have said or more likely, what I have done in spite of what I’ve said. The idea seems ridiculous to me, and yet, I want to place that bet and see the person we could create.

But, will my child have a mother? Currently we are envisioning the two of us being all the parents involved. I’m not sure I know how to be a mother, nor do I have much idea about how to be a father. My mother was both, and neither. She was a person to be counted on, someone who I trusted and who I believed had my best interests at heart. Except for a few years around the age of 16, in those years I was convinced she was going out of her way to ruin everything and make my world a living hell… but other than those couple of years, I’ve always believed she is on my side and doing all she can for me. Was she my mother? Yes, but I believe she would have been my mother had she adopted me or if she came out to me as male-identified. She would still by my mum.

So it seems to me that motherhood is a relationship, a verb as much as it is a noun. Being a mother is also an identity that is, in part, bestowed by the children in our lives. When they look for the person in the room they call mom. When they come running after a bad dream. When they sing in the school play and look out into the audience. Their actions and their naming you “mom” is what seals the deal.

So, will my child have a mother? I’m not really sure. But I do know my child will have someone they can look for in times of fear as well as joy. I will do all I can to help them find their way through life and they will know unconditional love of not one but two parents. Part of the answer to my question depends on how my child sees both of their parents. Will we be dads? Moms? Rents? Some other name I cannot even imagine? That is an answer I cannot wait to find out.

Delivered as a pre-sermon reflection during the Mother’s Day service at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis on Sunday, May 8, 2016.

A Time of Transition

brooklynAs I write this, I am preparing for my spring intensives at Meadville Lombard in Chicago. At the end of this two week period, I will have completed year one of three of my seminary coursework. In that time, my life (and Justin’s) has changed dramatically.

I will be leaving my position at The Humanist Institute at the end of May. I will also be leaving my position at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis at the same time. Finally, I will be completing my internship with the MN Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance. Over the summer I will be in a Chaplaincy Internship (called Clinical Pastoral Education) at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.

All of this is in preparation for beginning the next chapter. In August, I will be starting a two-year Ministerial Internship at First Unitarian of Brooklyn and a Learning Fellowship with the Church of the Larger Fellowship. Both of these will see me through to the end of my seminary program.

Justin’s life is also changing, he will be leaving almost a decade with BI Worldwide and completing his MFA in Writing. As we move to New York, he will begin the process of a career change as well. His goal is to pursue writing as close to full-time as possible.

We are both excited about this jump to pursue our passions and explore an exciting new city. We hope to see many people over this last summer (for now) in the Twin Cities!

Thankfulness at the Threshold

As we creep towards the precipice of 2015 and make that leap, step, or quiet sleep into 2016, I thought I would write something on my long-neglected site.

I have been lucky enough to travel throughout the year all around this planet. I’ve shared wonderful times with friends and family. I’ve moved forward in so many ways on my path towards ministry, yet feel like I’ve just begun. And I have been lucky enough to share so much with my husband who both supports me and pushes me to keep going.

2015 has been an amazing year of change and continuation, here are my highlights:

  • I rang in 2015 in Jerusalem as part of a Conflict Resolution class focusing on religious identities.
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  • I celebrated my 30th birthday on a cruise with one of my dearest friends Ryan and a whole group of our created family.
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  • I presented at the national NTEN conference in Austin, TX with the amazing Cary Walski about emotional intelligence in online fundraising.
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  • I celebrated one year of marriage and eight years of amazing relationship and adventure with Justin.
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  • I graduated from Hamline School of Business with a Master in Nonprofit Management Degree.
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  • I led a First Unitarian Society youth trip to Portland, OR for the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly. I also became an Aspirant for UU Ministry.NYE_JuneImage
  • I began my new Master of Divinity program at Meadville Lombard Theological School with Tony Pinn’s African American Humanist Theology and met a group of amazing new friends/colleagues.
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  • I said goodbye to my aunt Barb after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
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  • I said yes to amazing and challenging new opportunities – my community studies site at the Salvation Army & creating programs with the MN Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance (MUUSJA). NYE_SeptemberImage
  • I attended my first Continental Gathering of UU Seminarians in Chicago, IL.
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  • I taught a class of graduate students about Humanist Morals & Ethics along with Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons at The Humanist Institute. (image is from my class at the Institute):
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  • I led my first full service on Christmas Eve at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis.
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2016 is already shaping up to be full of adventure, promise, and challenge. I hope your new year is as well!

LGBT Rights Beyond the US

LGBT Rights Beyond the US

I was asked by a friend to help publicize the upcoming local events of Rev. Mark Kiyimba, a Unitarian Universalist who is fighting for LGBT rights in Uganda. There are a number of events happening in the next couple of weeks – a bar reception, film screenings, a legal lecture at Hamline Law, small group conversations, and he is preaching at a few congregations as well! Read on for something that may be of interest to you.

Wingspan Ministry of St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church 100 N. Oxford, St. Paul, MN 55104 is pleased to host Rev. Mark Kiyimba from Uganda for a series of presentations about our LGBT brothers and sisters in Uganda:

Mark Kiyimba is a Unitarian Universalist (UU) pastor based in Kampala, Uganda. Mark is also an outspoken faith Ally for LGBT persons in Uganda. His visible and vocal support for LGBT rights has put him in personal danger at times; he spent much of 2011 out of the country because of death threats. Currently Mark is pastor to two Unitarian churches, one just outside of Kampala, the other in Masaka, about 150 miles to the west in his home region. Each church has a school connected to it. The larger school, in Masaka, serves about 600 children, including a large number of AIDS orphans and abandoned children. Besides his role as a parish pastor, Mark works tirelessly as an advocate for greater understanding toward LGBT persons and for their civil rights, as well as for interfaith respect in a country where conservative religiosity is the norm across all traditions. Additionally, Mark offers his office in Kampala as a gathering place for many LGBT activists, providing safe space for them to network with each other. In 2012 Mark received the National Education Association’s Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights, for his work in human rights and its significant impact on education and equal opportunity for those facing discrimination due to their sexual orientation.

Contact for more information: David Weiss – drw59@comcast.net.

Download flier with all Kiyimba Events

Large Events

Friday, November 1

Film: “God Loves Uganda,” a powerful new documentary on the role of American Christianity in fomenting (and sometimes fighting) homophobia in Uganda. Screening co-sponsored with OUT Twin Cities Film Festival and hosted by All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church (3100 Park Ave. S., Minneapolis). Fri., Nov. 1, 7:30-10pm. NO CHARGE; freewill offering received. Discussion afterwards with Rev. Mark Kiyimba.

Download Film Poster

Saturday, November 2

Fundraiser reception for Rev. Mark Kiyimba hosted by The Saloon (830 Hennepin Ave., Mpls). Come meet Mark, enjoy a drink and some appetizers, and support his work on behalf of LGBT persons on Uganda. Sat., Nov. 2, 7-10pm, in the Fire Bar. NO COVER CHARGE; donations appreciated.

Download Event Poster

Tuesday, November 5

Presentation: “Human Rights Conditions of LGBTI Persons in Africa: Toward International Solutions” at Hamline University (1536 Hewitt Ave., St. Paul). Rev. Mark Kiyimba, along with Amy Bergquist from Advocates for Human Rights, sponsored by Stonewall Alliance of the Hamline University Law School. Tues., Nov. 5, 4-5pm. in Law School Building, Room 105.

Download Stonewall Flier

Other events

(These events are aimed primarily at their respective communities, but all are open to the public.)

Sunday, October 27

Rev. Mark Kiyimba preaches at St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church (100 N. Oxford St., St. Paul), 8:00am & 10:30am. followed by light luncheon in Lower Auditorium at noon.

Tuesday, October 29

“Conviction & Courage in Uganda: An Ally’s Journey” at Hamline University (1536 Hewitt Ave., St. Paul), 11:20am-12:40pm, in Drew Science, Room 118.

“The Struggle for LGBT Rights in Uganda: An Inside Perspective” at Augsburg College (2211 Riverside Ave., Mpls), 7pm, in the Christensen Center, East Commons.

Wednesday, October 30

“Ministry to LGBT Persons in a Time of Peril,” at Luther Seminary (2481 Como Ave., St. Paul), 11:30am-12:30pm in the Olson Campus Center, Dining Room C (lunch available for purchase in cafeteria).

Thursday, October 31

“The Struggle for LGBT Rights in Uganda: An Inside Perspective” at Macalester College (1600 Grand Ave., St. Paul), noon-1pm, Weyerhaeuser Memorial Chapel. Refreshments 11:30am-noon in the Chapel basement.

Sunday, November 3

Rev. Mark Kiyimba preaches at Minnesota Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (10715 Zenith Avenue South Bloomington, MN 55431), 10:30am.

Tuesday, November 5

Preaching in Bigelow Chapel at United Theological Seminary (3000 5th Street Northwest, New Brighton)11:35am-12:05pm, followed by lunch with members of the seminary community.

Friday, November 8

Film: “God Loves Uganda,” a powerful new documentary on the role of American Christianity in fomenting (and sometimes fighting) homophobia in Uganda. Hosted by UUCM Social Justice Ministry of Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka. (605 Rice Street Wayzata, MN 55391) Fri., Nov. 8, 7-9pm. Discussion afterwards with Rev. Mark Kiyimba.

I’m Consolidating My Online Life!!

digital_lifeUPDATE: I am now moving back to HumanistNotes.com as my primary digital home. One day, I hope to settle in a stay somewhere long enough to develop a solid following. Lets hope this is that time for the foreseeable future!

Hello loyal readers!

If you are seeing this, I am moving this blog’s posts to my primary website – http://www.KevinWatson.me

It is also a WordPress.com blog so you can subscribe to me there!

I’ve been doing a whole host of things the past few years:

  • blogging about humanism and other topics that catch my fancy
  • doing graphic and web design
  • branding and marketing for nonprofits and small businesses
  • performing non-theistic weddings
  • doing community building and volunteer work in humanist, atheist, and lgbt communities

Now, I’m trying to put all of that information in one place. I will blog there, have portfolios of work there, and have information about hiring me for various things there. This makes it so much easier to find me and for my business cards be reasonably legible all at the same time.

I’m doing this all under my tagline:

Kw: speaking, writing, designing
www.KevinWatson.me