LETTER FROM UUCCSM DEVELOPMENTAL MINISTER
REV. GREG WARD
It is with a complex mix of emotions that I share the news of my decision to resign my ministry among you on June 23, 2019.
The tremendous joy that stems from deciding to make my commitment to Lucy permanent has changed me more than I originally was expecting. I felt, initially, that what called me to marriage was a promise of length — ‘till death do us part.’ But, after proposing, announcing our engagement and letting it sink in — for both of us — we began to realize that the promise we’re called to is one of depth as well.
I’ve worked a long time as an independent consultant, living at a distance from the people I’ve loved and who’ve loved me. But I have come to see things in a new way since arriving at UUCCSM. And, I must admit, it’s you who’ve shown me some very important truths.
When I came, there were some things I was very sure of: I had some tools and experience that might be helpful. That you, as a congregation, had amazing potential, and although you’d been through some great challenges, you deserved great support. I was sure, as well, that I loved Lucy in a forever kind of way. I just thought there might be time before ‘forever’ began.
But there were some things I couldn’t be sure of: How much time and attention and care this community would need to get on with its forever. And how long my forever could wait. In the meantime, you’ve taught me a couple things:
- You’re amazing people with a lot to offer
- That you can’t rush building community — it happens at the speed of trust
- That being ‘far flung’ — a phrase I’ve been using to describe the independence and autonomy I see operating at UUCCSM — also operates within some UU ministers.
I’ve come to realize it will take UUCCSM longer to get on with its forever than I could reasonably ask Lucy to wait for ours to begin. Although I’ve no doubt that, with work, you will succeed (the world needs you too much for you not to), I need to leave before the work is complete. I’ve also realized that I — and you — would both be crazy to think I was the only possible person — or even the best person — who could help you do the work you need to do.
I hope you’ve been able to learn from me as I’ve learned from you. And that you can see, like I do, how far you’ve come in just a short time. And that you will make it where you want to go.
UUCCSM President Jacki Weber and I will be hosting a short conversation after the 11:00 am service on Sunday where I can share a little more information about what’s next for me. Jacki will also be able to share the next steps for UUCCSM and the succession of Ministers (this process is not starting at square one. UUA and regional staff have been at work for a while and contacting the best Developmental Ministers available).
I will be with you for the next few months. And we will talk about the work in front of you. Because the real truth is, your destiny is really in your hands — not the minister’s. But that doesn’t mean, in the time we have, I will love you — or push you — any less.
To the Glory of Life.
LETTER FROM UUCCSM PRESIDENT
Dear Friends of UUCCSM,
I am sad to know that Reverend Greg is leaving us near the end of June. It has been a true privilege to work closely with someone as experienced in ministry and organizational change as he is; and to feel like the work that we began — collectively as a congregation — two years ago is starting to pay off.
I am happy to hear he is leaving to be close to the people he loves the most and I wish him all the contentment that comes with marriage and proximity to family.
And I’m sitting with mystery and uncertainty as we seek our next minister, knowing that everything is changing always. With a spiritual practice that grounds me in this moment and gives me perspective on the cosmic picture, I’m able to practice some equanimity sometimes, and I’m working to put my energy and thinking into constructive thought patterns rather than destructive ones.
Reflecting on Rev. Greg’s ministry here
As someone who specializes in Developmental Ministry, Rev. Greg has made his most meaningful life’s work helping congregations across the country become healthier and more vibrant.
In his first service in September 2017 he came with a “backpack full of tools” to help us become a congregation that honors each other and is committed to work together with purpose to make the world better with our faith.
He’s like the personal trainer who’s come to help us train for the marathon. With his leadership and support we have definitely developed some endurance and strength and we have more energy to do good work. I’m excited for what that means for us.
Specifically, we are managing differences better, learning how to communicate in ways that are affirming. We have newly skilled teams working in pastoral care, worship development, communications, right relations and stewardship. And we have increased our financial stability by gaining a greater understanding of the resources that it takes to be a congregation working for good in Santa Monica today.
The road ahead
As far as what comes next, the Board of Directors has put together a team of folks experienced in successful search for ministers. Indeed, four out of five of us on the team worked together to bring Rev. Greg here. We are working in close partnership with the UUA Ministerial Transitions Office to identify the most appropriate candidates for us. That’s part of what they do for congregations in Developmental Ministry. The process is going to be swift and we expect to be able to introduce you to our minister for the next 3-5 years by the middle of June.
What can we do as members of this community during this time of transition?
- Connect with someone new or old and hit a Monday night meditation class.
- Pack some sack lunches for homeless folks on a Sunday.
- Pick something from our community garden and eat it knowing it’s been grown with love.
- Join in a Second Sunday Supper.
If we can enjoy each other in the moment and tend to the spirit that helps us imagine how we can better be love’s hands in the world, all will be well.
We will welcome our new minister in September and continue the developmental work we’ve begun: laying the groundwork to equip us to do important work so that those who come after us benefit from the impact of our faith.
We’ll collectively celebrate Rev. Greg on June 23. More details to come.
Peace and love,
PS – if you want to reach out, I’m always available at email@example.com.