As most of you are aware by now, the partnership between the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greeley and the Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins will take a different form next year, and will not include a shared minister. The two congregations will determine how to be in partnership in ways that feel beneficial to both. As we continue to discern what form our experimental partnership will take next year, I want to pause for a moment to consider some of the benefits we've experienced from this year's version of the partnership. Some have probably been visible to most of you, but some have been largely invisible except to a few people directly involved. This is not a complete list, but it gives you some idea of how the partnership has served us here in Greeley this church year.
We have had consistently excellent worship on Sunday mornings, with three professional ministers rotating through the pulpit, and with ministerial colleagues and seminarians guest preaching. This was one of the primary requests this church made of the partnership. Foothills also covered Sunday services while I was out with a broken ankle in the fall--including Rev. Gretchen Haley preaching here on less than 12 hours notice the morning after my injury, but also including Foothills paying for Rev. Robert Latham to fill another Sunday during my absence. Two skilled speakers from among the members of Foothills, Rich Young and Scott Denning, have donated their time to preach here as part of the partnership between the churches. Rich will return to the pulpit on April 10th, and Scott will be here for an after-worship presentation on April 17th, again without charge to our church. These gifts alone have been significant blessings for us.
We've also benefited from mentoring between the staffs of the two congregations. Eleanor VanDeusen, the Director of Religious Exploration at Foothills, has provided theme-related teaching materials to our Religious Exploration Coordinator, Mitchell Willcox. Ryan Marvel, Director of Music at Foothills, met with our accompanist and choir director, Sam Henline, along with the ministerial team, and has offered ongoing mentoring. Carolyn Myers and Kathryn Huckins, the office staff at Foothills, have been available to answer questions from our office administrator, Meghan Groves. Having collegial support for our staff has been an additional gift of this partnership. We have also benefitted greatly from the bookkeeping services provided by Eve Enright, bookkeeper at Foothills.
Foothills also hosted some leadership development programs in the fall, which our lay leaders were invited to participate in, and those who did found the workshops valuable.
I am deeply grateful to all those, in both churches, who have put not only time and energy but also their hearts into this partnership, knowing that it was an experiment and that its form might change, and believing that it had much to offer us.
This month's theme is Creation--I wonder what kind of partnership we may create with Foothills next year? It will be smaller in scale, as is appropriate based both on feedback from this church and on the realities of the many factors that made this year a difficult time for the two churches to engage in as robust a partnership as we originally envisioned. Each church has its own important work to do as both congregations are in the midst of transitions, but we also have the opportunity to continue to be in relationship with each other in ways that are nourishing.
My wish for each of you this month is that you find and enjoy an act of creation of your own: gardening, drawing, writing, baking, or whatever makes your heart sing. Creativity is a spiritual practice--let us engage in it with joy!