|From the Executive Director|
The staff has had fun this month coming up with ways to share our gratitude and appreciation for our members during Clergy Appreciation Month. I hope you have had a chance to share your gratitude and appreciation for a colleague this month and I really hope that someone you serve shared some appreciation with you as well. It has been a very busy month for your Executive Director as I’ve been on the road every week. One of the best parts of the month has been the appreciation the UUMA has been receiving amidst my travels.
In just the last seven days I have been in meetings/conversations with people from: the UUA staff, Auburn Theological Seminary in New York, the Center for Awareness of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University, the Center for Progressive Renewal and a United Church of Christ minister who is wondering how to start a UUMA-type organization for UCC clergy. In all of these conversations I have been reminded of how unique the UUMA is and how eager others are to partner and collaborate with us on the things we are working on such as coaching, entrepreneurial ministry, mentoring, and the Institute for Excellence in Ministry.
Last month I asked you to share your thoughts on what you think is most important about what we do at the UUMA. I did not hear from a single one of you. I don’t know if that means nobody reads what I write (probably); you think we are working on the right things (hopefully); or you are so busy doing the tasks of ministry that you don’t have the time to think much about the future direction of the UUMA (most likely?). At the UUMA Board meeting this month we spent a lot of time reflecting on the conversations we had with 19/20 of our chapters last spring and practiced generative thinking about your feedback and the future mission and vision of the UUMA.
We know that the religious landscape is changing and those changes have some of us anxious, or at least unsure, about what ministry will look like in the future. We also know that most of the questions and challenges we face as Unitarian Universalist seminarians and ministers are faced by all clergy no matter what theology or faith tradition they practice. Every day I’m more convinced that our mission to nurture excellence in ministry through continuing education, collegiality and collaboration is the best way to prepare for and succeed in the future. Each conversation I have with a person or organization who wishes to collaborate with us reinforces my deep belief that silos - whether they be in congregations, denominations, cliques, chapters, seminaries, social movements, religious professional/ministerial associations - won’t get us to where we want to go. Partnership and collaboration - especially when it’s with people different than us - will.
As we move from this month of clergy appreciation and trick or treating to a month of gratitude and deeper autumnal reflection, I hope you take make time on your day of Sabbath and/or during your time of meditation/prayer to celebrate your life of ministry. Some days it’s easy to curse that deep yearning that led us to this life; more often, I hope, we are grateful and joyous. I know I am especially when I remember and re-realize that I am not alone. Either are you. What could provoke more appreciation and gratitude?