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In Appreciation

posted Apr 28, 2016, 12:01 PM by Greg Ward   [ updated Jul 11, 2016, 9:26 PM ]

I want to offer sincere appreciation for the impact Reverend Greg Ward has made on myself, and my family, during his tenure at UUCB.  I came to know Greg under unfortunate circumstances after the death of my mother Lucile, who, was a long-standing member of the UUCB community.  I reached out to the church, numbly leaving a message on behalf of my father, Raymond, another long-time member, to let the church know of her passing and to learn about the process for a memorial and notifying the membership.  I was somewhat surprised but very pleased to get an almost immediate call from Greg on a Saturday patiently and thoughtfully guiding me through the steps that were ahead.  

One step was for my father and my siblings to schedule a time to sit down with him and talk about her special life.  I assumed this was done for the practical purpose of helping Greg prepare a eulogy, as he was relatively new in his interim position at the church and hadn’t been able to get to know my mother who had been ill sense his arrival.  I soon realized as we talked that this meeting was also to allow us an audience to reminisce together about this amazing person we had lost and help ease some of the pain in the process.  What we assumed would be a short sitting was still going strong a couple of hours later as we all passionately went on and on about her life while Greg respectfully and thoughtfully listened, prompting us as needed with questions and affirmations.  It was incredibly therapeutic and although I had just met Greg that day I felt a sense that the timing of his stint might somehow have been meant to be.

This feeling gained traction at my mother’s memorial service when he delivered a deeply moving tribute to her - truly capturing her essence and telling her beautiful story masterfully - all through our one meeting.  It far exceeded my greatest expectations and I will cherish how he honored her forever.  Although I was not a church goer, having a full plate already with two young children and our commitment related to their lives, we began accompanying my dad more frequently.  While I was originally there for my dad, I was consistently having a hole in my heart filled not only by the wonderful community, music and intellect at UUCB, but specifically by Greg’s thoughtful and beautifully delivered sermons.  I’d never been a regular church goer but I now look forward to - count on really - his moving, thoughtful words that add perspective, humor, humanity and love to some very complex issues that we deal in these times. I work in an industry that hires keynote speakers at often absurd prices and I can say that I rarely see anyone with Greg’s ability to present and capture an audience.  Add the component of such meaningful content and you get a better understanding of how I went from a non church goer to a UUCB member with Sunday service being a very valued part of my, and my family’s, weekly rejuvenation.  Each Sunday I’ve felt my soul grow a little deeper and I’ve talked to so many others that have expressed similar feelings about Greg’s effectiveness, especially when blended with the many other assets of our amazing community.

I will miss Greg’s role in that routine greatly but I respect his ability and calling to be able to come in and so effectively bridge gaps as an interim minister.  It’s another rare skill set he possesses, a combination of extreme poise and big picture understanding.  The next congregation that is lucky enough to have him will be in for a wonderful journey and there will likely be many, like myself, that end-up seeing church and the role it can play in your life, in an entirely new light.  I'm now certain that his role in our lives was meant to be.