Almost 8 years ago I received the call asking me to join the CENTER team. The draw was hearing interest in fulfilling a promise made many times but, up to that point, unrealized: to redesign the blueprint for creating cutting edge educational opportunities for ministers wanting to offer the relevant and powerful leadership needed in the world. The CENTER team that took up this charge in 2008 was not the first. We sifted through many versions of the dream expressed for over 25 years by great ministers before us who'd served tirelessly in prior configurations of professional continuing education. We soon realized that for us to succeed where others fell short, we not only needed a new program, we needed a new professional association.
The vision that emerged in those conversations was not without tension. Or trial. But, ultimately, it was only a small fraction of the vision that emerged when taken up by every member of the association. Ministers young and old recognized the need for new relevance and power in what sometimes felt like a rudderless moral pursuit of juggernaut social problems. The UUMA embarked on a bold new track for professional leadership - an executive director and an extended staff team - as well as visionary goals. I have never worked with a more focused and determined group than that CENTER team. Nor have I witnessed a greater act of faith and support than our association of ministers who saw it through.
The latest incarnation of this all this work is 2015 Institute at Asilomar. It's bringing together creative, contemporary and powerful worship; the environmental wisdom in Joanna Macy's Great Turning; and Jacqui Lewis' Beloved Community of the multicultural new millennium and other outstanding seminars. We'll be challenged to think deeply, but be in our bodies. We'll explore organizational systems and how to cultivate understanding and trust.
I think what feels most compelling for me is not any one thing but the Ted-talk type of dynamic potential that happens when people of different disciplines come together in open exploration. It pushes and challenges us to be the relevant and prophetic leaders we're called to be while recognizing the humanness within each one of us. And, even better, this transformation is available to our association in a myriad of modalities so that those for whom the timing or cost was an issue don't miss the power of the programming.
I'm proud of CENTER. I'm proud of Don. I'm proud of the UUMA board. I'm proud of all our UUMA members for making this vision of reality. But more importantly, now that I feel equipped and supported and renewed to deal with the world's many needs, I'm proud to be a Unitarian Universalist minister.
See you at the 2015 Institute for Excellence in Ministry