First and foremost, I’m thrilled that UUCM will be facing a bold and bright future in partnership with Rev. Shayna Appel. Shayna’s inquiring mind, her compassionate and playful heart, and her passion for building community are just a few of the things that make her a great leader and companion for the journey. The excitement was palpable after the announcement was made to the Congregation on January 12th. I’m sure it will only build in the coming months as people learn more about all the gifts Shayna brings with her ministry.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Search Committee and all the other dedicated leaders that had a hand in the process. The Search Committee has dedicated 2-1/2 years to this search, working faithfully and with great care to serve the best interests of the congregation. They will continue to pave the way for this new chapter in the life of this congregation by helping to organize opportunities for you to get to know Rev. Shayna over the coming months. My hearty endorsement and deep gratitude come with just a few words of restraint. UUCM is very fortunate to have an opportunity for an extended transition. Rev. Shayna and I will have plenty of time to do a thorough hand-off before the end of my time with you. But part of a healthy transition will include continuing some of the interim work that can provide energy and direction for the future. Some of these areas include the following:
- Education – What kind of energy, focus, and resources do you want to dedicate to life-span education? How can you engage the minds and hearts of people of all ages in learning about Unitarian Universalism and living UU values?
- Right Relations – Affirming a Covenant of Right Relations was a beginning. What does it mean to live into that covenant going forward? How can you continue to deepen your relationships with one another?
- Radical Hospitality – How can you continue to explore what it means to welcome people into the congregation and to go out into the community to build relationships?
- Social Justice/Outreach – You clearly have a passion for fighting climate change and preserving the planet for future generations. There are a couple of projects in the works around climate action that are gaining traction: A group is looking into re-engaging with the UUA’s Green Sanctuary Program and exploring the idea of becoming a community hub for Climate Action. Membership in UU Action-NH has increased interest and networking statewide in this area as well as in legislative advocacy for women served by the WITT program.
This kind of service is the work of the church. These “ministries” (ministry meaning “service”) should be your focus, your raison d’être — your reason for being a church. These are the ways you live into your mission. Your mission statement, adopted June 2, 2019, reads:
We are a compassionate, spiritual community that honors every person’s search for truths we learn and work together to create a better world.
The trick is to keep your eyes on the prize when it’s tempting to shift your focus to the day-to-day tasks of church operation — those organizational functions meant to support the work of the church, but which can take on a life of their own.
The work of the Board is to help the Congregation stay focused on the BIG picture, and to develop policies to help streamline the day-to-day processes so that you can focus your time, talent, and treasure on the real work of the church.
The last, and maybe the most important thing I want to say, is that no minister — no matter how charismatic or gifted — can do this work for you. Your mission is based on who you are and what you feel called to do together. Rev. Shayna will be a great partner in helping you live into this work (and I have a feeling you’ll have a lot of fun doing it), but ultimately you’ll have to decide what this church stands for — what’s important to you, what you’re willing to work for. Your partnership will only be as strong as your commitment to working together to figure out who you are and what you want to do to live into your mission. I hope we can use the time we have left together to roll up our sleeves to prepare for that kind of partnership.
Read previous monthly messages from Rev. Carol