I know, I know, it is December … and you are probably either looking forward to the holidays, or not and wishing this would just end.
Either way – you are not alone. I am fortunate to have much to be grateful for and to look forward to, and yet … for my step-grandchildren who lost their mother in 2005 and whose father died last September, this holiday season will be exceptionally difficult. For all who loved my stepson Christopher, who died last April—and most especially his widow and step-daughter, his parents and his sisters—this will be a very difficult holiday season. I will have both sorrow and joy this season.
Celebrate a milestone with Sonya! The board accepted her change in status as she moves on in her ministry. In part, this is what her letter said:
I am writing to formally tell UUCB and its board that I am no longer serving a community ministry, and so I would like to change my status at UUCB from community minister to member.
In July, I started working part time as a consulting minister with the UU Fellowship of Tuolumne County in Sonora.
It has become clear that serving Sonora is suiting my talents well...(and)... I would like to resign that (community minister) role.
I am grateful to UUCB for many things. Several members (Emily Clark, Rebecca Mitchell, Lynne Cahoon, Richie Dawkins, Chris Alburger, Meredith Whipple, and Otto O'Connor) served on my committee on ministry and helped me through the Ministerial Fellowship Committee's final fellowship requirements. Several UUCB young adults (Logan Stump-Vernon, John Bailey, Chris Alburger, and Meredith Whipple) participated in SALT, and many members encouraged their participation in countless ways. ….What a beautiful example of an entrepreneurial outreach ministry to young adults with participation of the congregation as an important building block. It was an honor to serve in this capacity.
I want to add that I am energized by the changes in the congregation, and participating as I am able, and so pleased to see Mitch and Sierra engaged and enthused for so many parts of church life.
With devotion to our movement, and much love for the UUCB community,
Rev. Sonya Sukalski
Excerpted from Rev. Sonya Sukalski’s letter of resignation to the UUCB Board of Trustees
The Pause that Refreshes!
You may not be one of UUCB’s ordained, affiliated community ministers, serving a ministry beyond (and sometimes within) our congregational walls - but if you are working to live and expand the reach of the values of our faith in your family, in this community, in the world (and I know you are!) you, too, are part of the “shared ministry” of our faith. Thanks for all you do! I know it sometimes feels like a lot - and only because it is!
Perhaps fall is a time when the need to find respite in our busy days is particularly appropriate to bring into our conscious awareness.
Apologies to the Coca-Cola company (please don’t sue me) for shamelessly stealing their slogan of some years back, but we all need to find “the pause that refreshes.”
Summer is over, and I hope that for you, like me, it offered some renewal and respite time. But there’s a high possibility that, also like me, you didn't get as much renewal as you wanted and could have used! This often means that we go into the church year and the holidays ahead with less in our reserve tanks than we wish we had. Here at UUCB there are so many exciting possibilities ahead. How do we renew ourselves, keep ourselves energized so that we can take advantage of them?
Each Affiliated Community Minister at UUCB has a covenant with the board of the congregation, signed by the president, and I have been reviewing the one I have in place, signed by President Stephanie Ann Blythe, in 2012. Since that time, I finished working with the UU Legislative Ministry (now the UU Justice Ministry) of California. I took up a new job in the area with The Video Project and hope I will be able to use documentary films to help justice seekers organize and make change for the better.
The covenant I have says that we will support each other – the congregation will support my ministry as a way to extend UU values into the community. I support the congregation by offering services such as worship, pastoral counseling, or teaching classes. In the covenant, there may or may not be a fee associated with my services.
Under my current covenant, I can take up a new ministry in the area and the congregation, while informed, basically doesn’t change in its stance toward me as a community minister. However, in my experience UUCB’s support for my ministry while working at a UU-identified ministry is very different from working at a small business that espouses many UU values in its products, and processes. I think that when an Affiliated Community Minister changes jobs, likely the covenant should be revisited and probably renegotiated. I didn’t do this when I started with The Video Project in 2013. The process of covenanting with community ministers as a congregation is something that has been done just in the last decade or so. Many community ministers do not significantly change the focus of their ministries as I did, so perhaps this hasn’t come up. In order to help UUCB be the best place to house many ministries that reach into our surrounding community, I hope in the future it becomes understood that the covenant should be renegotiated when a ministry changes focus.
Perhaps not only the board should sign off on a community ministry, but there should be some way in worship to create promises between the community minister and the congregation. Hopefully this would lead to further conversation about what a community ministry can do to help UUCB live its values. The intention to serve the surrounding community by sharing UUCB’s worldview and theology could be made more explicit and perhaps even measured, and could create accountability as well.
I am so proud of us.
I’m proud of the good goodbye we gave Barbara and Bill – the love and care and creativity, the attention to detail, and the plain hard work that went into creating a weekend of glorious celebration. So many folks volunteered – newcomers, longtime members, and everyone in between. I’m proud of our generous retirement gift woven from many small contributions. I was touched by the number of people who wrote lengthy notes in Barbara and Bill’s memory book, sharing memories, stories, and gratitude. It was a splendid and loving farewell.
And I’m proud of how we’re navigating this in-between time as we anticipate Rev. Greg Stewart’s arrival in August. In case you haven’t noticed, our lay leaders are not sitting around, waiting for someone else to lead. Some folks realized that we needed a space where we could share our hopes and concerns, so they created a Caring Community Conversation and Potluck which has now morphed into a weekly “Listening Post” after Sunday services. As I write, Board President Jean Gleason and former Board President Stephanie Ann Blythe are in Providence, RI learning about the ministerial search process at our national UU General Assembly. So much is happening, even during these summer months.
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