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Ministerial Perspective

I am a cradle Unitarian Universalist who has been fortunate enough to have found much of life’s meaning linked to the people and structures of this religious movement.  I was dedicated during a UU service, nurtured in the arms of our nursery caregivers and raised in our classrooms.  I found inspiration, celebrated milestones and mourned the death of family and friends in our sanctuaries.  I met and made lasting relationships in our social halls.  I worked for cooperative governance of our dreams in our board rooms and helped our dreams become justice along the streets around the congregation.  In each of these areas I have encountered compelling examples of what our ministry could be.  The following list describes some characteristics of such a ministry. 

·        Passion for building good communication and healthy relationships

·        Yearning to understand differences in our values, the complexity of our choices and how to honor our many sources of truth

·        Commitment to reason in discerning truth and compassion in exercising it

·        Strengthening the community which helps us mourn our losses and celebrate our milestones

·        Encouraging practices of self-awareness, deepening relationship with others and an active search for effective avenues toward justice as cornerstones of spiritual growth

·        Understanding that an individual’s personal growth and well-being and the institution’s collective growth and well-being are equally important and, in fact, interdependent

·        Recognizing the important relationship we have with our children and our commitment to help them grow safely, love courageously and live fully

·        Working toward accepting the experiences in our lives we cannot change, learning to overcome hurts and betrayals and find some source of redemptive love for ourselves and others

·        Understanding that although aging can present painful limitations, being of use and making a difference are timeless needs

·        Instilling courage not to avoid conflict but to listen carefully for hopes threatened, fears at work and abandoned dreams mourned, so that such concerns can build empathy and increase the pastoral reach of the community

·        Being willing to take evil seriously and to fight it with reasoned truth, social witness, persistent effort, courage, sincerity, understanding and compassion

·        Forgiving others

·        Forgiving ourselves

·        Understanding the power of religious symbols and ritual, sharing their meaning and challenging their misuse amidst our culture and our world

·        Protecting the democratic process which gives each member a voice, the institution a structure and diversity a home

·        Remembering the salvific power of humor

·        Incorporating the healing power of warmth, hugs, a knowing glance, touch, holding hands, shared tears and spontaneous laughter

·        Expecting not godliness, but humanness

·        Pointing out the redemption of learning from our mistakes and struggles

·        Speaking truth to power, responding to the pain of injustice and bringing hope to those living in the margins

·        Working systematically to address economic, political, social and educational inequities in power

·        Personally and communally celebrating strengths, accepting misgivings, striving for growth and the golden rule, laughing when we can, giving as we’re able and loving as much as possible

This list is long.  It is long because it describes more than any one person can accomplish alone.  Professional ministry adds to a community’s ability to live out a compelling vision.  Even at their best, the minister is never enough.  It is the contagious spirit of partnership which builds community, integrates personal stories into a collective narrative that sets us on the path to our dreams.  At its best a good ministry will awaken the recognition of everyone’s gifts toward personal, communal and systemic transformation.   And at its best it gauges success by how it expands the breadth of commitment through the invitation for everyone to share a common call.