On Sunday mornings, we say, We are called to walk with one another in life’s joys and life’s pains, and especially in the ways that these things arrive all at once, in one tangled blessing we call life. We bring to you news that is exactly this – a mixture of both goodness and grief. We write to you, the congregation and community of TRUU, in a shared letter as we wanted to be clear that this news comes with integrity and health, with all parties feeling this mixture of emotions.
After great discernment and care, Gretchen has decided not to renew her contract with TRUU beyond this church year. She has been offered and has accepted a position as the Assistant Minister at Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins, Colorado. This role will allow her to serve a large church, on the Front Range, in a nearly-full time capacity – all of which created an ideal opportunity for her.
Gretchen has been open about this possibility with the Board, and as a result, we have already formed a Search Committee that has created a job description for our now officially open position for a minister. The Search Committee, chaired by Sue Coyle, is working closely with the Board and with Rev. Nancy Bowen, District Executive for the Mountain Desert District, as well as with other sources nationwide. They and we feel confident that we will have a strong candidate for our minister for the coming year. It is our hope that we will be able to present this candidate to the congregation by the time of our congregational meeting in May.
Although we all feel a sense of grief at the ending of what has been a wonderful relationship with Gretchen, it is important to say there are no bad feelings here. This transition comes purely as a result of Gretchen’s desire – and TRUU’s desire to support her – to follow her call into full-time ministry. As a congregation, we can be proud that we have walked with Gretchen in our mutual learning, and we can speak with pride about our role as a teaching congregation.
Going forward, there is a strong positive role for us to fill in walking with emerging ministers – as we are an emerging congregation – in learning together about shared ministry. Gretchen feels strongly that through her two years with us she has grown in ways simply not possible without such practical experience, and knows she will be a better minister as a result. We know the congregation feels the same; we will be stronger from our learning and teaching with her, as well.
We will be working out a schedule for our transition in ministry, and you can be assured you will have sufficient notice regarding Gretchen’s last service with us. Her position with Foothills will start in August, and so there will be some time to ensure this transition goes as smoothly as possible. You can safely assume we’ll have a party to celebrate all that we have done together, and to mark this transition with gratitude and love. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns at all, please feel free to contact one of us, or Sue Coyle as the Chair of the Search Committee at soprissue2 at aol (dot) com.
One of the important cornerstones of our faith is that truth continues to be revealed. We don’t yet know how things will turn out – we don’t yet know who our minister will be. All we know is that we are called to remain faithful to the vision and mission of our congregation, the things which called us to come together, the things which keep calling to us as our shared hopes. We are only beginning to see what beauty and what promise there is available for our congregation. Let us place our trust in one another, in the love we claim at the heart of the universe, holding us all in blessing. As we say on Sundays: May our hearts and minds be filled with a deep openness, that only the greatest love may fill us up.
With love, and in faith,
Thelma Zabel, Board President, TRUU
Rev. Gretchen Haley, Consulting Minister, TRUU