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.
This is a relatively large congregation and, as such, it stands to reason that many of us need help. There are times when we may just be sick and tired of hearing ourselves complain. After all, there is always something to complain about. And if you are tired of hearing yourself, imagine how your friends and loved ones feel.
Yet, the problem, whatever it is, does not go away, and we may still feel burdened with a situation no one else understands.
Come to us, come to the UUCB Support Group.
Dear UUCB community,
I want to let you all know that I have decided to step down from being an affiliated community minister with UUCB. I am sad to go, as I have greatly enjoyed my time with the congregation for the past many years. However, I find that my life has changed in the past several years, and at this point in my life, I want to devote my time to my young children and my family. In the words of one of my favorite quotes, “Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.” (Robert C. Gallagher)
Sensing the Spirit
One of my favorite places to be is in the mountains. Having grown up in the high mountainous desert of New Mexico, I find that there is nothing quite like the drive up highway 395 on the East side of the Sierra Nevada to lift my spirit up where it belongs.
I had hoped to join my daughter in climbing the iconic Cathedral Peak in Yosemite when the crowds had died down after Labor Day. I imagine I wasn't the only person dismayed by the Rim Fire as it inundated Yosemite, and cut Tuolumne Meadows off from the West.
In relationships, it can be tricky to keep the fires steadily burning. Hot-running human emotions—like wildfires raging out of control in the forest—need containment and consistent care in order not to leave only scorched earth in their wake. And, as with the Rim Fire, there are times when episodes in our lives use up all the fuel they have and must come to an end.
One of my favorite trees, the aspen, consoles me when there has been a raging wildfire like the Rim Fire. It is a pioneer, a plant that comes in the wake of fire to replenish the soil, provide shade for conifer seedlings, and rustle the grief of loss into the wind where it can dissipate.
As I hiked through the aspens while waiting for the smoke to leave Yosemite, admiration filled my heart. I contemplated these aspens--part of the largest living organism on earth--connected by their roots to all the aspens across the Sierra Nevada. Even when elements overtake our world in an “act of God,” Mother Nature reminds us that there are cycles of nature and nurture to hold us in our grief, and prepare the way for the next cycle.
Rev. Sonya Sukalski
UUCB Community Minister
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