Rev. Millie Rochester
Celebrating our shared ministry as we hosted the Western Regional Fall Gathering of Canadian Unitarian Universalists was great fun. Over the course of the weekend, we exchanged ideas and experiences, visited, and appreciated one another’s gifts – including the talents that were showcased in after-dinner entertainment – and altogether, could not better have demonstrated that we all share ministry, within and beyond our congregation.
That concept continued for me after the Gathering, as I joined fellow UU ministers for a retreat at St. Benedict’s Monastery, just outside Winnipeg. The opportunities for us to be together are few and far apart, making such times all the more eagerly anticipated, especially when they can occur in a restful setting that is conducive to nurturing ourselves and one another. Worship is contemplative, conversation deep and meaningful. Listening extends to silence. We share issues and ideas, in a loose, easily adaptable structure that also allows us to write for our church’s newsletter, as I am doing, a compromise dictated by a busy week ahead). This, too, is shared ministry.
In truth, there are probably as many ways to minister to one another as there are people. We are familiar with what we do within our congregation, and I hope more aware now of the impact we have on others, too, whether it is by sharing the Sunday offering, or hosting a big gathering.
As a member of the Manitoba Interfaith Council, I was delighted that we could gather in our church home recently with about eighty other Winnipeggers from a wide diversity of faith traditions, when we hosted an Interfaith Café that introduced the Charter for Compassion to the wider community. This opportunity for all of us to exchange our thoughts about compassion from the perspective of our own faith tradition was wonderful (enhanced by the gracious hospitality of those who provided refreshments for the larger than expected turnout). I attend meetings of two other interfaith groups, as well, and always come away feeling enriched. Such opportunities are everywhere, especially when we are with people who are in any way different from ourselves – and of course everyone is different!
We all need that feeling of being transported beyond ourselves, for an hour at a time, a day, or longer. The next time you have such an opportunity, I hope you will say “Yes.” You don’t even have to wait to be asked – just say “Yes,” to life – you’ll be glad you did!