A Network of Energy & Wisdom

Modified on: September 6, 2018

“O the joy of that vast elemental sympathy which only the human soul
is capable of generating and emitting
in steady and limitless floods.”
(Walt Whitman, “A Song of Joys” from Leaves of Grass)

This September, we welcome to our congregation a new team member. Anne Garner, a second-year student in the progressive Christian Theological Seminary’s low-residency graduate program, will join us as an intern until May 2019. A Greenville resident, she was urged by colleagues to do her year-long field education placement with UUCS because of our history of social justice and her own commitment to liberal religious practice. Through a series of interviews and deliberations this spring, our board agreed that this could be a good fit and a wonderful opportunity for both Anne and our church.

This means that we will become a teaching congregation. We will not only be beneficiaries of Anne’s service to our own goals and projects; we also assume the responsibility to help her learn. She is in training, seeking how to use her gifts for the transformation of the world—by welcoming her this academic year, we become a testing ground, a place for her to work and experiment and hone her abilities. We offer her a community, full both of opportunities and also the grace to attempt them without requiring perfection.

When I mentioned this to one of our leaders, they laughed and wisely noted, “After all we needed to teach you this past year, we certainly are a teaching congregation!” I could not agree more. You have afforded me an opportunity that does not stop unfolding in richness, offering me, my family, and I hope all of us possibilities and horizons we could not imagine only a year ago. And you have done so with unfailing patience and kindness, coaching my understanding of our congregation’s traditions and ways, slowly building and rebuilding a network of energy and wisdom to make me and many more newcomers an integral part of the life and work of this church.

Nowhere is this more evident to me than in the compassion you extend to one another. All summer, even when I have been away, I have witnessed the most basic and extraordinary acts of kindness that you offer each other in times of suffering, anxiety, and loss. Again and again, you show up—to be with, to stand with, to walk with one another in whatever you each are facing. And again and again, without requiring perfection of yourselves or others, the network of energy and wisdom you have created sends through its channels the compassion, the resources, and the support needed for each person. It is a marvel to behold and a lesson well worth studying.

I am learning so much here with you. It gives me great joy to imagine all that Anne Garner will bring to UUCS, and all that she will discover here with us. And above all, I feel a surge of energy when I consider all that we will offer one another and so many more people in the ever-building, ever-rebuilding, ever expanding network of energy and wisdom you have long woven with such consummate care.

With gratitude,


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