Friday, 03 June 2016 00:00

The Reverend's Reflections - June 2016

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We are closing a huge year of change in the life of this congregation.  Twelve months ago, we had no Sunday volunteer groups, we weren’t renting the building, we hadn’t started to use all the children’s classrooms -- there were a lot of things we didn’t know, including one another. Since then, we’ve been working on a new mission statement together, we re-instituted adult religious exploration programs, increased staffing, and started creating new ways of working together through the Sunday Volunteer groups.  We also launched the Program Council and Leadership Development Committees. And that’s not accounting for the Board and its committees that have done an enormous amount of work. Attendance on Sundays has surpassed expectations and membership is now over 200. There is so much to be grateful for and to celebrate.

It has also been a year of mistakes, misunderstandings and miscommunications. And these too, we should be grateful for, for these are always our best teachers. It is in our mishaps that we see what we didn’t see before – if we humble ourselves enough to look. There is perhaps nothing more revealing and important than letting our defenses down and asking ourselves the hard questions of our own role when things go wrong; of being willing to acknowledge that our choices contributed to the problem, for then we see what it is we do need to do or be as we go forward.

As announced last month, I will leave at the end of my existing contract in a year’s time. Although the past few months leading to this decision were difficult, seeing what needs to be done next year is clearer. The Board and I have a plan that focuses on building our ability to communicate as leaders in shared ministry and as a congregation. This is a plan that we’ve begun to implement and includes calling on the support of consultants to help us with the transition of our congregation’s practices to suit the size of the membership.

This past year was also about practical concerns of meeting basic needs, just as when you move house you must spend time getting boxes unpacked, setting up new utilities accounts, and getting the children settled into new schools and making new friends.

Now, the purpose of our shared ministry shifts to really metabolizing the changes we’ve started, and we are learning much from our mistakes and missteps as we move forward. We are more aware of what it means to be a larger congregation now; and that rather than being less intimately connected and more anonymous in the crowd, we are more connected than before. We are a congregation, not a crowd. There is a big difference and a great strength in this, and it requires that we base our myriad relations with respect, loving-kindness, and a commitment to honesty.

This year ahead, as the search for a new minister gets underway, the work we do together as congregation and minister will be different and important as we learn how to function in meaningful, creative and healing ways that will set the pattern for UUFCO’s future. We will not only deepen our awareness of ourselves as this larger community, but share the share the work of ministry as UUs in Central Oregon. We will communicate and be accountable to one another in our ultimate work of creating more love and justice in the world. And I for one am looking forward to it.

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