Florence Caplow will arrive to begin her work as the contract minister for TRUU in August of 2015, and plans to live in our valley for the year. Most recently she has been the intern minister at Quimper UU Fellowship in Port Townsend, Washington, a UU congregation of nearly six hundred members and friends in a small town (pop. 10,000) on the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula. She will be finishing her Masters of Divinity at Iliff School of Theology as a distance student, and hopes to ordain as a UU minister in the summer of 2016.
Florence is already ordained as a Soto Zen priest, and will be only the second UU minister in North America with these dual ordinations. She has been a Buddhist practitioner for thirty years, and she teaches meditation, Buddhist philosophy, and Buddhist history. She is also a fifth generation Unitarian: her great-great-grandmother helped found a small Unitarian church in Iowa in 1890, and she was raised in a Midwestern lay-led Fellowship.
Florence is an active writer and author. Her first book, Wildbranch, is an anthology of environmental and nature writing, published by the University of Utah Press in 2010. Her second book, released in 2013 by Wisdom Publications, is The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women. This book is a collection of one hundred teaching stories by women from Buddhist history, along with short reflections by one hundred contemporary women teachers. She is also an active essayist, with articles in Tricycle, Turning Wheel, Inquiring Mind, Terrain.org, and other national journals.
For most of her adult life, Florence has been a field biologist, identifying and protecting rare plant populations throughout the West, including finding species new to science. She loves all things outdoors: climbing, hiking, backpacking, paddling, riding, birding, and of course, botanizing, and looks forward to exploring the mountains in the area.
She is a strong advocate for the environment, social, environmental, and climate justice, and Native American issues and treaty rights, and is on the planning team for the 2015 UUA General Assembly Public Witness, focused on climate justice, for which the UUA has partnered with the Lummi Indian Nation.
Although she has come to ministry later in life, she is passionate about the arts of ministry, from stewardship campaigns to preaching on Sunday, from teaching classes on “awakening joy” to sharing grief, from governance to “coffee shop office hours.” Florence sends her greetings (see video below), and looks forward to meeting us and to the adventure of the 2015-16 year together!