Minister's Blog

Celebration & Staffing

Scott J. Neely

June 10, 2021

After a decade of service to all of us at UUCS, Pat Landry has now retired. We will celebrate Pat as a congregation on Sunday, June 20 during our morning service. Please plan to come to express gratitude for all Pat has done for every one of us for all of these years. Thank you, Pat!

Over the last three months, our Personnel Committee and Board have worked with our staff to develop a staffing plan in anticipation of Pat’s retirement. As I shared in this past Sunday’s service, it has been carefully developed; it is innovative and forward-thinking; and it is working brilliantly:

  • Our administrative position has been broken into different parts to be shared with current staff, allowing us to expand the role of team members already doing excellent work for our congregation.
  • Miga Batten will manage all financial operations and our annual reporting with the UUA.
  • Anne Garner will work with all of our communications (worship bulletins, Happenings, website, and much more) as well as continuing her work with Social Justice, Worship, and Pastoral Care. Because Anne has now graduated from seminary, her title will change to Contract Assistant Minister (“contract”, because Anne has been hired by the Board on a one-year contract).
  • Anne has also requested ordination by UUCS in parallel with her home church of First Baptist-Greenville. An Ordination Council has unanimously recommended that the Board bring her request to the congregation for vote at our Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 20. Anne has already been received into the Ministerial Fellowshipping Process of the UUA as an Aspirant. If we vote to ordain her, Anne would be ordained in a joint ordination service at First Baptist-Greenville with the participation of UUCS on Sunday, August 1 at 3:00pm.
  • Scott Neely will handle facility requests and rentals.
  • Our staff team has put in place a schedule to staff the church office, pick up mail, and receive phone calls. The team will also work together to manage and support our congregation in the use of our church database, Breeze.

We have enjoyed more than a month of transitional training from Pat, and all operations transferred to each team member several weeks ago. The plan is working well. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me to discuss them. I am happy to meet with you.

With gratitude for every person who makes this a thriving, cooperative, visionary team–a congregational team comprised of every one of us–

Scott
minister@uucs.org

A Circle of Friends

Scott J. Neely

June 1, 2021

At each entrance to the church, you will find this month a sign which reads:

UUCS is a Welcoming Congregation

Masks strongly encouraged for all while indoors.
Honor social distancing.
No shaming of individual choices.

This sign was composed by our Board as a simple and straightforward expression of how we can come together, keep one another safe, and not exclude or shame the choices each individual in our Beloved Community chooses to make.

Our congregation, our COVID committee, and our Board have thought, studied, debated, and above all lived the question of how and when to come together for many, many months. All along the way, even in our most intense disagreements, we have found each other and our way forward together. Now, as the possibility to gather again in our Sanctuary becomes reality, we can choose again—as we have so often chosen before—to care for each other. As we have so often sung:

Gather the spirit, harvest the power.
Our sep’rate fires will kindle one flame.
Witness the mystery of this hour.
Our trials in this light appear all the same.

Gather in peace, gather in thanks.
Gather in sympathy now and then.
Gather in hope, compassion and strength.
Gather to celebrate once again.

May this moment, one more step in our journey together, be one of care, compassion, and joy. As we have so often sung:

Joyful, joyful…

May our hearts unfold like flowers, opening to the Sun of the approaching Solstice—

Scott

Website Update

Scott J. Neely

May 20, 2021

Friends,

Since this winter, Katherine Wakefield and Pat Landry have worked almost every Saturday to update our website to a more user-friendly version. This new format will look much the same in outward appearance, but in its internal structure, it will function much better and be much easier to update. This is a major project Katherine and Pat have striven to complete prior to Pat’s retirement on June 6.

The website is now transitioning to the new format. It may be down for the next day or so during this transition. In the long run, it will be much easier to make changes to the website.

Thank you to Katherine and Pat for their countless hours of labor, and to all who have supported and assisted them!

With gratitude,

Scott

The Art of Social Justice

Scott J. Neely

May 13, 2021

This summer, our congregation will host a virtual art show: “The Art of Social Justice”, co-chaired by Dr. Garry Snipes and Laura Baker Pinkley. The intention of this show is to spotlight issues of social justice in our community. The show will be released online on July 4, in celebration of and challenge to our life together as a nation. Check out the Call for Artists and submit your work via email. If you are an artist, please submit work! If you know an artist, please urge them to join in! All are welcome! The deadline for submissions is this Saturday, May 15.

With pride & anticipation–

Scott

Unbelievable

Scott J. Neely

May 6, 2021

Last Sunday, after our Sunday service and fourth Consciousness Dialogue, I zoomed with a cohort of fellow Divinity School alums from across the country. They had invited me to present on the life of our congregation, to share all we are doing together.

They could not believe all that we have done to care for each other and our community this year. After two hours of discussion, they asked me to return next month to share more.

You are unbelievable. We are unbelievable. We are love beyond what can be believed.

We keep on.

With immense gratitude–
Scott

Responsibility & Freedom

Scott J. Neely

May 1, 2021

Think of the vast freedom of the voice that sings this song, a navigator of space and time:

Though below me, I feel no motion
Standing on these mountains and plains
Far away from the rolling ocean
Still my dry land heart can say
I’ve been sailing all my life now
Never harbor or port have I known
The wide universe is the ocean I travel
And the earth is my blue boat home
(Hymn #1064, “Blue Boat Home” [Singing the Journey])

And hear how this cosmic vision exults in the company of others, that the individual thrives in community:

Sun, my sail, and moon my rudder
As I ply the starry sea
Leaning over the edge in wonder
Casting questions into the deep
Drifting here with my ship’s companions
All we kindred pilgrim souls
Making our way by the lights of the heavens
In our beautiful blue boat home

Unspoken but clear, the underlying message of the song seems to me to be that we must care for the ship, by which we sail through this universe of wonder:

I give thanks to the waves upholding me
Hail the great winds urging me on
Greet the infinite sea before me
Sing the sky my sailor’s song
I was born upon the fathoms
Never harbor or port have I known
The wide universe is the ocean I travel
And the earth is my blue boat home

The individual and the community—we are not one, we are not two: our personal freedom and communal responsibility to care for one another intertwine in the vast beauty of all that is.

“Beloved Community happens when people of diverse racial, ethnic, educational, class, gender, sexual orientation backgrounds/identities come together in an interdependent relationship of love, mutual respect, and care that seeks to realize justice within the community and in the broader world.” (from “The Eighth Principle of Unitarian Universalism”: https://www.8thprincipleuu.org/)

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