|From the Executive Director|
This month I write to you from 35,000 miles in the sky as I head home after nine days on the road. Sometimes I wonder how this Up in the Air life I lead makes a difference in the world (that question hasn’t changed no matter how my ministry has changed over the years.) I don’t have George’s Clooney’s looks or life but despite the carbon footprint my frequent flyer miles cause, most of the time my travels take me to places I think matter.
In August I gathered and visited - in person - with colleagues in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. (As I do every month I gathered and visited with colleagues around the world - virtually - from my home office in Durham many, many times.) I attended a conference where we heard from speakers and leaders in progressive religion and learned about trends and innovations in ministry; I helped lead and plan our second Beyond the Call - Entrepreneurial Ministry program “retreat” watching how our colleagues and our United Church of Christ and Reformed Judaism brothers and sisters are creating new and innovative ways to minister; I visited a Garden Church “start-up” and I attended and participated in an ordination - one of the most sacred event.
I’ve heard stories about failure and the supposed doom and gloom of liberal religion. I hope to hear more about the failures (because that means we are doing something new!) and less about the doom and gloom in the future. I have seen the sparkle in eyes of seminarians and newly-ordained ministers and watched “old-timers” practice something new. I have met people whose life has been saved by their faith community and I have met people who feel like their faith community has let them down.
How does this all make a difference in how I minister and lead the UUMA? I like to hope I bring these stories and faces with me as I meet and plan with our CENTER team and Collegial Development Committee, when I work with our Board and staff in creating our goals for the new year and when we collaborate with our partners in ministry throughout the UUA and other professional organizations. There is a danger for any of us who stay too close to where we live and minister - our vision can become limited and we only see what we want to see.
As I get older my body doesn’t seem to like the rigors of travel quite as much as it once did. Living in different time zones and eating “road” food can take a toll. Thankfully, the joy and passion of our members and the people I meet and re-meet make all the nuisances of travel seem trivial. There is so much wonderful ministry happening in the world. Not only among our UUMA members but with those who are serving other faith traditions and are seeking new connections and manifestations of the spirit between and among us. Outside my plane window the clouds drift by and the vast country spreads below me. I imagine all the lives below laughing and crying about the joys and injustices of life and wonder how, where, our ministries will touch them.