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Acronym - Monday Musing, November 8, 2021

Dear Church,

Acronym – a word formed by abbreviating a phrase and then combining certain letters or words in the phrase (often the first initial of each) into a single term. Examples from our own church include: The Federated Church of Orleans – FCO; United Church of Christ – UCC; Unitarian Universalist Association – UUA; Open and Affirming – ONA (O&A was already taken!); and our latest “Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged” congregation for mental health – WISE.

While acronyms are popular and frequently used – who says Federal Bureau of Investigation when FBI will suffice – for the outsider, exclusive usage of acronyms can be off-putting, giving an unwelcoming impression. And that’s the worst thing a church who uses the tagline, “No matter who you are or where you are on your life’s journey, you are welcome here” can do! We must not assume that everyone knows our insider codes.

I will be the first to admit frequent usage of acronyms instead of writing it all out. There are a lot of acronyms we take for granted, so many that we might even forget what the acronym stands for! We may be familiar with NIMBY – “not in my backyard,” which is a colloquialism signifying one’s opposition to the locating of something considered undesirable in one’s neighborhood.

So when I received a note from Carolyn Witt that used the acronym IMBY, I thought at first it was a misprint. I learned a new acronym that I want to share (if you aren’t already familiar). IMBY stands for “in my backyard.” The WISE planning team is creating an IMBY team – intentionally reaching out to our Emmaus House mental health group home to highlight that we want them in our backyard. This new ministry combines the work of the WISE planning as we embark on becoming a WISE congregation for mental health, and our Open and Affirming welcome to all.

Our church already supports Emmaus House by providing a meal once a month and giving birthday cakes to the residents. The IMBY team is planning to provide another meal each month, paying closer attention to holiday celebrations, and making visits to determine how the church can provide greater support. They are in the planning process of determining Christmas gift giving needs. Our Emmaus House residents are welcome in our backyard and in our front door! If you are interested in supporting this team, please speak with Carolyn Witt.

There are many ministries at The Federated Church of Orleans with which you can become involved. IMBY is a perfect example of the communal impact of individual efforts. The words of Margaret Mead are printed on a notecard that is pinned on my office bulletin board: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” We should be proud to be part of the CIA – Christians in Action. See you in church!




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