The Rev. Lisa Wiggins . One might think that a one-half time position would allow for a sermon every Sunday, except in a Unitarian Universalist congregation the sermon is to be something of an intellectual tour de force, which she hopes to accomplish every two weeks. The congregation, founded in 1948-49 is composed of about 80 adults and 15 children.
“Born and bred” in the Unitarian tradition, Wiggins’ father served in the U.S. Foreign Service where he wrote the paper which, once sent to the White House, became the basis for the Peace Corps. He offered leadership until Sargent Shriver came to the helm.
Wiggins graduated from the Unitarian Universalists’ Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley. Her experience includes serving as a chaplain for the military in Somalia. Her spouse is the minister a the Unitarian Universalist Church in San Rafael. They reside in Petaluma.
The Unitarians and the Universalists merged in the 1950s. Wiggins describes the Unitarians as like Boston Brahmins and the Universalists more “blue-collar.” The former were more earthly minded and the latter more heavenly minded. So they merged heaven and earth.
When stepping to the pulpit on a Sunday, Wiggins uses a wide variety of resources. Since “revelation is not sealed,” as she puts it, the world is her oyster. With a lot of engineers in the congregation she needs to bring the field of religious values within their frame of reference. She would not be adverse to telling a biblical story.
The contemporary humorist and raconteur, Garrison Keillor, asks, “Why should you not make a Unitarian angry?” He answers, “He/she will burn a question mark in your front lawn.”
Upon hearing this joke, Wiggins smiles and thanks Keillor for giving publicity to her small denomination. She allows as how she’s honored to be associated with a question mark which in religious language suggests the mystery that we seek to probe. This is just fine since God lies beyond personhood and even knowing. We may only speak of God poetically and even then we likely miss the mark.
One of her parishioners facetiously asked what to call her, “If not minister, how about ministeress?” She figured “that sounded too much like a minister’s mistress, so just minister would do.”