Parson to Person: “House Calls” June 4, 2021

Doctors generally don’t make house calls anymore, but some ministers do. And actually, it’s a hallowed tradition going back 450 years to John Calvin. (Remember him? He’s the Protestant reformer who gave us predestination and puritanism. In other words, lots of sin. He also gave us our first Unitarian martyr–Michael Servetus, whom he had burned at the stake for not believing in original sin or the trinity.) Yes, Calvin (as in John, not Kline) instituted the parish call, demanding that all ministers visit every church member at least once a year.

That sounds pretty nice until you remember John Calvin’s reason for the parish call: to check up on the morals of the parishioners!

With all due respect to a 450-year-old tradition, I do not plan to visit any of you in order to check up on your morals. But I would like to get to know some of you better–so, starting this summer, I’d like to resume visiting UCN members and friends who feel comfortable with an in-person gathering. (Because of Covid I had to put this off for a year, which is why I have been calling UCN members and friends instead. But now, with Covid restrictions lifting, I’d like to supplement those calls with occasional in-person visits.)

How will this work? Well, those of you who would like to get a head start on this, just give me a call (262-632-9886) and we’ll arrange a mutually convenient time to get together. Otherwise, I’ll start calling people in our UCN directory.

Where will these visits take place? In your home, normally. (Meeting people in their own home–their own turf, so to speak–gives a minister more of a chance to get to know them than seeing them during coffee hour or on their way out of church.) Sometimes it will be at a restaurant or coffee shop, sometimes at the UCN office, sometimes at a park or other public place. The location is up to you.

But one thing I want to be clear about. If you don’t want me to visit you in person, that is perfectly OK. You may feel we know each other well enough already. Or you may feel that you see me more than you want to as it is. Or maybe you’d like to visit with me, but at some time further in the future than when I happen to call. Whatever your reason, don’t feel bad about declining a visit from me. (You can even look at it in a positive light: If you say no to a ministerial visit, that means the next person will get a visit sooner than they otherwise would. And maybe that person needs the contact at that time.)

At any rate, if you get a call from me, you can accept or decline my invitation to visit. But, either way, know that I am not checking up on your morals–I’m simply trying to get to know you better.

peace and unrest,

tony