My last time in the pulpit of Thomas Paine Unitarian Universalist Fellowship was on June 17th. That service and its sermon ended a run of well over 250 times over nine years that you have allowed me to present some ideas of how events in our world and thoughts from our human history can inform that “free and responsible search for truth and meaning” our UU principles call and allow each of us to affirm and promote.
Preaching is the most visible, most obvious, most public part of what your minister does. Much of the other work, often appropriately, is not generally known. Unless you or your family is among those who receive my efforts at pastoral care and counseling, you likely are not aware of what help is offered. If you are on a board, committee, or team, you know the meetings a minister takes part in; otherwise, maybe not.
Perhaps I have been with you at a march or vigil or demonstration or rally where our UU principles are raised up; less likely is that you know of letters, e-mails, phone calls, visits to officials’ offices where I, identified as your UU minister, promote the Belovèd Community this faith would have us try to bring to our world. It is my part of the prophetic outreach we all, as members of a faith community, are challenged to take on.
Our national UU organization and the UU Ministers’ Association are among the places a minister can, uniquely, represent the congregation and have influence on the direction the denomination takes. Not all of that work gets publicized. No doubt, I should have brought more of those ministerial undertakings and obligations to your attention beyond my monthly reports to the Board of Trustees. You do need to know that those less-visible ministerial tasks and duties will continue to be done; will continue to serve you and The Fellowship. I’ll be doing them through the end of August. Then my successor will become your fullservice (even if part-time) minister and take on all of the varied work that the position of your ministers entails and allows.
Yes, allows. Your having ordained me lets me put a “Rev” in front of my name when I write or call or otherwise speak in the voice of liberal religion. It seems to make a difference. And that Rev, a clerical stole, and a “clergy collar” have gotten me access (including to parking places and restrooms) which I might not otherwise have been admitted to.
Ministry is demanding. It is rewarding and challenging. It is fun. And know I will miss it all, as I will miss you when I am finally gone from TPUUF.