Thank you one and all for the beautiful gifts you gave me during our last worship service together on July 19. The platter inscribed with “Serving with Grace” is now on my altar at home (see pictures). And the beautiful plant matches the purple in our house perfectly.
In the service, we honored the gifts we have shared this year. I thank you again for sharing yours with me; for teaching me, energizing me, and renewing me.
We also released one another from the ministry we have shared. For those of you who weren’t able to join us, here are the words we used to do so:
Gifts for the Journey
Kelly: It is now time for us formally to let go of one another. In the code of conduct for ministers, it is written that the leaving minister will not be in contact with congregants until the ministerial transition is complete, which is often a year or more. You have done that with Eric this year. And so, as we let one another go, we free you up to honor your new ministers and allow your new shared ministry to flourish and grow.
In our free churches, there is perhaps no bond more sacred than the bond between a minister and the congregation that has chosen him or her to serve them.
This is because a minister’s power and authority come not from on high, but from the hearts and minds of those they serve.
Last August we had a ceremony that initiated our covenant to work together in a shared ministry. It is only right and fitting that we have a ceremony to recognize its ending.
You have offered me your free pulpit.
In gratitude for this gift I offer sage to symbolize the wisdom
That comes from creating meaningful worship together,
Rooted in a rich spiritual life.
I hereby return the ministry of worship to you and your new ministers - Diana, Gretchen and Howell.
Use this ministry to speak the truth in love to one another.
May this loving truth be a source of joy and gladness for you.
We thank you for your service in our pulpit,
We accept its power of freedom for ourselves
And release you from your service as worship leader.
You have welcomed me into the transitional moments of your lives,Times of sorrow and of joy.
In gratitude for this gift you have given me, I offer the herb rosemary
For remembrance of comfort given and joys celebrated together.
I hereby return the ministry of pastoral care to you and your new ministers.
Use it to comfort and to celebrate the milestones of your lives
With compassion and care.
We thank you for the pastoral care you have offered us.
We accept its power of compassion for ourselves
And release you from your service as pastoral caregiver.
You have asked me to serve
As chief administrator of this congregation,
As a professional religious leader.
In gratitude for this gift you have given me,
I offer thyme as symbol of our time together, and of experience.
I hereby return the administry of this congregation to you and your new ministers.
May you guide yourselves with courage and wisdom
Into a strong and sure future
We thank you for your professional leadership.
We accept its power of vision and knowledge
And release you from your service as professional leader.
These two candles symbolize your ministry and my ministry.
Both will continue, separately.
The president, Marcia Free, and I will now light these two candles from our chalice.
I release you from our covenant with one another.
Go your way in peace, truth, and love.
We release you from our covenant with one another,
Go your way in peace, truth, and love.
Please do go your way in peace, truth, and love - taking my love with you.
It's official! As of August 1st, I'll formally begin to serve as your new Assistant Minister, in partnership with Rev. Howell Lind and Rev. Gretchen Haley on the ministry team for both the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greeley and Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins. I'm delighted both to be part of that team, and to be serving these two dedicated Unitarian Universalist congregations. I look forward to our shared ministry together!
In the next couple of months, as we settle into the partnership between the churches, there will be several events for us all to get to know each other better. The first will be Sunday, August 16th, when Gretchen and I will share the pulpit for our first worship service in Greeley. Stay tuned for information about other events.
I've already had several meetings with Rev. Kelly Dignan, both individually and with Gretchen, to make this ministerial transition smooth for all involved. I anticipate keeping the same office schedule as Kelly did, so you will find me at the church on Tuesdays. Please continue making appointments when you need to see me, as you did with Kelly. You can reach me at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org, Gretchen at email@example.com, and Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We, your ministry team, are excited about the coming year and the possibilities of the new partnership. Let's dream big about what Unitarian Universalism can be in Northern Colorado!