|From the Executive Director|
This week I’ve come to Southern California to attend an installation service for our colleague Lissa Anne Gundlach in Pasadena and to attend a Unitarian Universalist Ministers and Partners Association (UURMaPA) retreat. Later in the week I’ll be working with some of our UUMA leaders and UUA staff as we continue to design a new process that will offer formational support from colleagues and our larger faith to those from aspirant status to preliminary fellowship.
I’m extremely fortunate to be able to be engaged with our membership in all phases and cycles of their ministry. Our 1800+ members are just starting out as they complete their studies and preparations for the ministry, they are knee (or higher) deep in the joys and challenges of serving congregations, institutions and community settings and they are transitioning to the “retired” life of usually being an unpaid reverend.
In a few weeks the UUMA Board will gather for its spring meeting and will do our once every three years work of looking at our mission, vision and ends to see where they need to be tweaked. In the last three years the UUMA has continued to grow in the number of our programs, our members and our leaders.
One of the biggest signs of our difference is that three years ago we had minimal financial reserves. Today, in less than two years, we have raised almost $750,000 in pledges for the Sustaining the Call campaign for our first endowment fund. In many ways this is unbelievable. To go from 0 to $750,000 in fewer than two years is a testament to the commitment and dedication of our Endowment Director, Sarah Moldenhauer-Salazar, our elected and volunteer leadership and especially those chapter ambassadors and members of our stewardship advisory team. Their leadership and the generosity of over 500 of our members has created the beginning of a legacy we all should be proud of.
And yet….So far almost 32% of our membership have made a pledge to the campaign. Call me crazy but I continue to imagine and dream of 100% of our members making a pledge to the long-term health and vibrancy of the UUMA. Maybe it’s because I hear the challenges and obstacles our seminarians face as they figure out how they’ll pay so they can answer the call they can’t say no to; or because so many of our colleagues continue to have professional expenses cut which don’t allow them to attend the continuing education we all need to thrive in our ministries; or because our colleagues who are geographically isolated report how hard it is to do this work without the close embrace of those who share their vocation.
Whenever I get the chance to celebrate new ministries, or honor those who paved the way for ministers like me, or see the sparkle and passion in the eyes of a seminarian I am inspired …and I remember. I remember that we can do so much more to support each other and ensure we have the tools and resources to nurture excellence in ministry, and ministers, today and tomorrow. Thank you for all you do to make it so.