Our June theme is Simplicity. I'm laughing to myself as I write that--knowing that the month of June is anything but simple for me, and probably for many of you!
As those of you who were in worship on May 22nd heard, the search committee of the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church in New Hampshire selected me as their candidate for settled ministry. I'll be with them June 3-12 for Candidating Week, and at the end of that week they will vote on whether or not to call me to serve as their settled minister. While I'm away, you'll have some wonderful guest speakers--June 5th will be seminarian Elizabeth Mount, and June 12th will be Mary Louise Gerek, a member of our partner congregation, Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins.
From June 20-26, I'll be attending General Assembly in Columbus Ohio, along with a few thousand other Unitarian Universalists! If you have never attended a General Assembly, I invite you to consider it at some point in the future. It's a great way to connect with our larger faith. I go as your ministerial delegate, representing this congregation during business sessions. Those of you who love governance might enjoy being a lay delegate someday--and if that's not your thing, there are workshops, worship services, and social justice activities to suit just about anyone's interests.
As our summer begins, whatever your own plans may be, I wish you joy--lots of sunshine and bright blue skies, time enjoying your favorite outdoor activities, relaxation with friends and family. Congratulations to all our children, youth, and young adults, from preschool through college, on finishing another year of school and having summer break ahead! (Congratulations to our teachers, too!)
Over the summer, decisions will be made about next year--what leadership will look like, who that leader will be, and how you will move forward with them in the shared ministry of this congregation. We have a strong--fully staffed!--Board in place beginning June 1st, and as the elected leaders of the church, they will help carry out the hearts' desires expressed this spring by the congregation. Their "boss" is not me or you individually, but the mission of the church, and I know that they take that responsibility seriously. My hope is that the transition will be as smooth as possible, and that we can all walk through it in covenant with each other, remembering that while we may not agree on every detail, all of us want our beloved community to be a healthy, safe place for those who are already here, and for those who will join us in the future.
Our May worship theme is Blessing. We'll approach this theme through a variety of lenses, as we do with each monthly theme. I invite all of us to also consider who has been a blessing in our lives--whether others in our church community or from other parts of our lives. If the person is still alive and you are still in touch with them, maybe you will find a way to tell them this month how they have blessed you and changed your life for the better.
This month we are wrapping up our Holy Listening process with Rev. Jeanelyse Doran Adams, who will be with us on Saturday, May 21st, to celebrate the process with our Cottage Meetings and the wonderful sharing that happened in those. The end of this process will bring with it some sense of where we are headed next year. I hope as many of you as possible will participate on the 21st--there's a sign-up sheet in the foyer where you can register.
Last but not least, thanks to all of you for the ways you bless this congregation and the wider community!
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!