When I served in the parish, Memorial Day weekend meant the annual congregational meeting was coming up and I could imagine taking some time off in the summer to recharge my batteries. Ministry Days and General Assembly was a chance to reconnect with colleagues, learn a few things and have some fun. This is my second Memorial Day weekend as your Executive Director and I can tell you that the landscape looks a lot different than it did in the parish. Instead of winding down, Janette and I are scurrying to get everything ready for Ministry Days, the Executive Committee and CENTER meetings, and the chance to connect and meet with people that aren't able to the rest of the year. I have seen friends and colleagues who have worked for the UUA staff have that "GA look" over the years - eyes a bit glazed over, moving from meeting to meeting often forgetting what day it is - and I suspect I have that same look too.
The annual meeting that matters to me most now is the one we have at Ministry Days when we do the business of the UUMA, report on how things have been going and what will happen next. Perhaps I shouldn't admit this but there were years when I was early in ministry that the UUMA annual meeting was a convenient time to grab a cup of coffee with a friend and trust my colleagues would be doing the right things. Not anymore. Now our annual meeting is when I get to stand before the people I serve and love, like I once did every Sunday morning, looking at their eyes and feeling mine well up with the joy and responsibility I have to serve them as well as I can.
There are SO many things that we will be talking about in Charlotte and in the days and months following our gathering. We have finalized the details of the new UUMA Coaching Program and will begin recruiting soon; we have almost finalized everything for our new cohort learning program (which has been referred to as the "10 Year Plan but will have a name by Ministry Days) and it will begin in 2012; we will soon know the theme of our next Whose Are We type conversation in 2012-13; we will begin collecting deposits for the 2013 UUMA CENTER Institute for Excellence in Ministry at Ministry Days and we will be sharing more details about how we/you can make Association Sunday 2011 a huge success. (To sign up: http://www.uua.org/giving/associationsunday/index.shtml
The programming and plans of the UUMA are in good shape. I hope you agree. What I hope and pray is that the same can be said for the mood and spirits of our 1700 members. We all know that some years are harder than others and I know that is true for many of us. Ministry Days and GA are where we often take inventory of how we and our ministry are doing and, hopefully, connect with another for support and inspiration. For those whose life and/or ministry are flying high I say Hallelujah! For those who life and/or ministry are flying low I say Blessed Be! We all have been there and will be again.
I look forward to the feeling I always get in Ministry Days when we say our covenant together and I am reminded of the privilege and honor it is to be a Unitarian Universalist minister with you. Unfortunately we aren't able (yet) to stream our worship and meetings with those who can't be with us but perhaps every single one of our almost 1700 member could takes time on June 21 or 22 to recite our covenant (http://www.uuma.org/?page=guidelines
and remember the sacred bonds we share.