Thank you for the warm welcome to this beloved community. I have been blessed to meet so many members of the community, who are deeply committed to the mission of this congregation. If we haven’t yet had the chance to meet, I hope to meet you soon! My first few months with you will be a time of listening and orienting to this community, to get a sense of your hopes and dreams for the future. Your Board of Directors, congregational leaders, staff, and others have already begun to lay the foundation for some of the developmental ministry work that we will engage with this year. It is an exciting time to experiment with new ideas, programs, and initiatives. We’ve been heart/brainstorming around worship, pastoral care, religious education, anti-racism/anti-oppression, stewardship, financial health, membership, communications, and outreach—to name a few—in these initial weeks together.
We are living in a critical time and the demands for justice in our society are loud and reverberating in the hearts and minds of so many. I have been so moved by the young people who are leading the Climate Strike and dispelling the ignorance and climate denial of so many. I’m heartbroken by the ways in which those in power are persecuting the most vulnerable among us. I am grateful that my liberal religious faith provides me with the values, companions, spiritual grounding, and fortitude to resist the dominant paradigms, and to live more mindfully and compassionately in our world. I am also aware that at UUSM we need to be as effective as possible in responding to the calls of love, community, and justice in the world. We need to model a welcoming, beloved community that is an alternative to a world with too much heartlessness, alienation, and injustice.
We are beginning to explore what it might mean for UUSM to move towards a model of sustainability and regenerativity in congregational life. Everyone has been working really hard the past two years and it is now time to rest, reflect, and integrate the learnings from the first period of developmental ministry. It is very easy for church leaders and others to burnout if there isn’t enough spaciousness in the life of the church. Are we making time to just enjoy being with each other? Is there time for rest and laughter and play—even in official church meetings? Are we sharing our emotional lives with others? Are we slowing down some to increase our mindfulness? Are we taking care of our bodies? Are we being attentive to how we celebrate accomplishments? Are we remembering those who came before us? Are we making time to appreciate art and beauty? As we taking time just to be still and breathe?
Let’s explore these important questions and many more together as the new church year begins to blossom.
With love and gratitude,
Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae