I think y’all here at Two Rivers already know that this endeavor is not about the minister. With the many ministers you’ve had over the years, I hear one resounding message: we want a minister who will stay.
Well, you have that now. I love this valley and my family does too, and a lot of it has to do with the community you create both inside and outside the congregation.
However, as things settle in and we get comfortable with each other, our shared ministry here could slide into an incorrect assumption: any challenges we have will be resolved by the minister. That attendance and membership has only to do with the wit of the minister’s sermons. Or, that we will be held by a common axiom in leadership – the group owns all the successes, and the leader owns all the failures.
It will be good – by the way – to come to the start-up workshop on March 18th to check up on this and other assumptions we share about leadership and ministry.
Back on topic, I do want to make it clear that this is a shared project, and a shared ministry, with shared successes and failures. That no matter how charming I am, people won’t keep coming because of anything I do. It will be because of you. Y’all are in a great place already, having found your community’s enduring core after you’ve gone through minister after minister in your growth to serve this valley. This is great that it’s part of our culture because it’s practical – and I want to lift up that it should be part of our culture because this is who we are theologically.
We come from a long line of thinking that says the people have a divinity, a dignity, a spiritual purpose that requires no intermediary, requires no salvation, that you need no priest to tell you what is sacred and important. Today, I choose to express this tradition in thinking that I am a facilitator, someone who should be reflecting the part of the congregation that is greater than the sum of its parts. That I bring you the latest wisdom from many sources so that you are fully informed as to what is best for this congregation and the valley we serve. My role is to hold space for important things to be done, to care for one another, to show up for justice, to explore religion across generations, to cultivate a spirit of generosity, and to celebrate the worthy parts of life. Your religious forebears have fought for ages to give you the right to completely own this congregation, from what you put into the offering plate to who stands in the pulpit. The only right I’m guaranteed is to preach on whatever I want – the freedom of the pulpit.
I’m proud to serve you and see how far you have brought yourselves, from meeting in houses, classrooms, to now in the beautiful community center. I hope that you feel you truly own your faith and are a vital part of Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist, and that you are always inviting others to own this fantastic spiritual project we call TRUU.