From Your Minister
Modified on: August 22, 2017
I know that June ended up looking very different than all of us expected, and that at press time, there are still a lot of unknowns about how ministry will look at UUCS after I leave. I know it doesn’t feel great to be back in limbo. However, I have great faith that all will be well (as a former minister at UUCS once sang), and I say that not as a platitude, and not just because I believe in the power of optimism. I say that because I’ve been your minister for almost two years, and I know you and I’ve seen what you can do.
One recent example is how the UUCS Search Team worked hard and quickly to adjust schedules and care for Rev. Mansfield during his visit. Meanwhile, the Worship Team, on very short notice, did a wonderful job of stitching together two meaningful worship services.
During my last Committee on Ministries meeting, I was asked for my observations about what UUCS does well. I love this question, as it is exactly the type of question that the Appreciative Inquiry we’ve been using this year teaches, but I confess I’m still trying to make that a habit. It is ingrained in me and in our culture to identify what is broken and try to fix it! It’s a great motivation, and surely there is much that is out of order, but if we get more of the things we focus our attention on, then it’s not good strategy.
What’s going well at UUCS? The truth is a LOT of things work well here, but I think it starts with you as people—as individuals and as a church. What a wonderful group of loving, nurturing, encouraging UUs! What I’ve seen is that this is a congregation of people who say “yes!” to life. We all say yes in various ways and levels, according to available time and circumstances, but I’ve seen you figure out ways to say yes on many fronts: for meal trains, topping off the budget drive, serving on committees, showing up for workdays here and in the neighborhood, volunteering in countless ways—worship, coffee hour, RE, Earth Day. I’ve seen you standing up and saying yes to causes that we believe will make our community and world better, safer, and more whole: yes to refugees, yes to science, yes to marriage equality and PRIDE, yes to the environment, yes to gun-sense, yes to ONE Spartanburg, yes to UUCS.
I have been heartened by the example you set in this church and I believe it is immeasurably important. To even speak and believe in a statement like the one in our covenant, “to prove that diversity need not mean divisiveness,” is truly a subversive act when we live in a time where so much focus is on the divisions and differences between people. What do you do well? You say “YES”!
Over the past two church years, I’ve been blessed to have you say yes to me in many times and many ways. I want you to know that over and over again, when members, friends, and staff reached out in many ways to let me know you believed in me and my ministry, with a thank you, with a suggestion that let me know you took me seriously, with an idea, a hug, handshake, or smile, it has lifted me and supported me in doing a job that I don’t always understand myself. By your kindness and love, you supported me in believing in myself and what I was doing, and in turn, have helped me to be a much better minister. . . . One of these days I’ll write a sermon about that!
As our relationship changes, I say good-bye for now. With deep, deep gratitude for all of your many and wondrous gifts during this time in our shared journey, I thank you.
With much, much love and gratitude,
P.S. Some of you have asked me about my favorite video, “Dancing,” that I showed during worship on June 25, containing the song Praan (later performed so beautifully by our band, featuring Patrice Fentiman singing in Bangali)!
The English words are found in our hymnal, #529, by Rabindranath Tagore:
Stream of Life.
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.
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