December From Your President

Modified on: November 29, 2017

If you were at our November 19th Sunday Worship Service you heard me announce that we would be having a congregational meeting on Sunday, January 14, 2018, to vote on Scott Neely as our settled minister. This summer Scott was hired as a contract minister by our Board of Trustees, for a term beginning in August 2017. His contract would have concluded on June 30, 2018.

During the past four months, many of you have let me know how much you enjoy having Scott as your minister. In order to have Scott confirmed as our settled minister, we will need 90 percent of our congregation voting in favor of hiring him as our settled minister. You will be able to vote online prior to January 14 or in person at our January 14th meeting. Scott and all our Board members will be available to answer any questions that you may have about the upcoming vote.

Scott grew up in Spartanburg and graduated from Spartanburg High School. After high school he attended Wofford College, graduating in 2000. After completing his Bachelor of Arts, he then went on to attend the Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, graduating in 2006 with a Masters of Divinity. He worked for the First Presbyterian Church from September 2006 to August 2015 as their director of Missions.

In September 2015 he started and directed the Project for Community Transformation, a faith-based community development initiative to strengthen congregations to help reduce poverty and racism. His involvement with PCT has been winding down and he will complete his remaining commitments to a couple of Presbyterian churches by April of next year. He will remain active with Speaking Down Barriers, but his involvement there will be reduced. Expect that he will continue to teach a class at Wofford as he is doing at present.

Your Board has been looking into how Scott can become ordained. Becoming an ordained minister would give him the ability to marry individuals as stated in South Carolina law as well as allowing him to use his housing expenses as tax-exempt income. The prestige of earning the title of Reverend would also give Scott more leverage in getting our Unitarian Universalist message out into the Spartanburg community, Ordination through the UUA, our parent organization, may take up to a year or two for Scott to complete. A rarely used policy from our 300-year-old denomination allows individual UU churches like ours to ordain their own ministers. The ability of an individual religious society to ordain is very unusual since most religious denominations require that their leadership or seminaries are the only ones who can grant approval to ordain a person into their faith. We will continue to investigate all our options.

Lastly, our Board for the last two months has been working on security. We are now locking all doors at UUCS prior to beginning Sunday services and we will have members available to open the doors if you are late. Don’t be too late though; after fifteen minutes our members will return to the Sunday morning worship service.

Peace and Love,

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