|From the Executive Director|
When last we “met” I was writing to you from the California coast preparing to welcome 425 of our closest friends to the 2015 Institute for Excellence in Ministry. This month I write to you from my home office in North Carolina looking at black ice and the remnants of seven inches of snow. (For those of you in the northeast thinking “seven inches?#!@# “ it is a lot for a California boy who had to shovel snow for the second time in his life this week!) The scenery isn’t the only thing that has changed this month, so has the work I’m immersed in.
Last month the staff, CENTER team and I were busy as bees working our tails off in the midst of a cacophony of collegial buzz and excitement at another successful Institute. This week I have been working on strategic plans and next year’s budget while preparing to travel to DC for an ordination and then Alabama to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the march on Selma and attend the spring UUMA Board retreat. The blessings (and occasional curse) of the ministry of being an Executive Director is that life is rarely boring.
I did not learn much about working on strategic plans and budgets while I was in seminary. The corporate world is where I picked up most of those skills and I’m grateful I did. But, as most of you know, it is work that can be both inspiring and heart-breaking, sometimes at the same time. Strategic planning - or disciplined dreaming as I like to call it - invites us to create and plan the future. A future that might come to be or a future that may only exist in our imagination. Budgeting is the process of finding, creating, enabling the resources to put the foundations under our dreams.
For the last few years the UUMA has been able to realize almost all of our strategic plans, our dreams, and have found the resources to make them come true. I often say my main job at the UUMA is finding all the money in our sofa cushions, and others’ sofa cushions, to ensure the programs and dreams come to be. Looking at the year ahead however, the sofas seem to be tapped out a bit and I may need to start shopping for some new furniture.
I know almost of all of you can relate. Which is why the work of ministry, and our showing up for it, is so important. We all get tapped out at times. Our budgets. Our dreams. Our spirits. We gather at Asilomar, or Ministry Days, or a local chapter/cluster meeting to be replenished. We attend an ordination and remember there is more than financial resources needed to make dreams come true. And we march at Selma, remembering the courage and sacrifice of those who came before us, so that we can find the courage and sacrifice inside of us to change the world with love…again.
People often say the most important part of ministry is showing up. Perhaps that is true. I’m grateful to you for having the courage and commitment to show up…again and again. It helps make the planning, dreaming and cushion digging all worthwhile.