Most of you met me for the first time last May, during my candidating week. But before that, one year ago this month, was my pre-candidating weekend with our search committee. While I already had a gut feeling that I belonged here with you, from the written materials and my conversations with the committee over Zoom and phone, it wasn’t until that weekend that my gut turned into a hopeful joy that I might be called to be the minister of this congregation.
One year ago, I visited Winnipeg for the first time ever and fell in love with the city (yes, even in the middle of winter!). I spent hours with the search committee, delving deeply into questions about this congregation and the greater community: what are its strengths, what are its weaknesses, and how can we offer love and support in service to each other and to a larger vision. When Monday morning came, I discovered that my face hurt because I had done so much laughing and smiling for two straight days. One year ago this month was the true beginning of our shared ministry adventure together.
It is every UU minister’s dream to find a congregation with whom they are well-matched, and I tell my colleagues that I feel like I won the lottery. While we are still learning so much about each other, and will continue to do so into the future as we grow and change, the early picture I got during that weekend was like a beacon for my heart. I learned about your love of music and singing together; your deep respect for our planet, its ecosystems, and the imminent danger posed by climate change; your commitment to fellowship and relationships as a core element of congregational life.
And, just as important as all those other things, was this congregation’s ability and willingness to be self-reflective — to have an awareness of what needs work, both inside the congregation and in the larger community. Many congregations in search attempt to hide all their flaws, when in fact ministers are drawn to congregations that see honesty as a virtue. One of the key things that we’ve identified is the need for a new mission and vision — one born out of the congregation as it is now, that calls us to action and gives us purpose and focus in our work. This came up during my first weekend, and again, multiple times during my candidating week. I know that the visioning process was started a few years ago, and then stalled due to other very necessary things taking priority. We have an opportunity before us now to finish what was begun. A vision is what we want to make real; the mission is how we get there.
Our desire to be a force for healing, justice, and caring in the world is strong. Let us create the tools to manifest our power for the betterment of all.
In gratitude and faith,