During this program church year my plan is to offer a series of 6 articles that lift up different aspects of interim/developmental ministry for you to chew on and to discuss among yourselves. These 6 articles will weave together our worship and learning themes.
The title for this series of 6 articles was inspired by one of my favorite gospel tune, written by Kurt Carr entitled Between Here and There. For me this song speaks clearly, boldly and spiritually to the context of interim/developmental ministry. The Kurt Carr Singers soulfully croon, “I have been through some stuff this season that almost took me out. There are days in your life when it seems like the storm clouds are following you. When traveling this tedious journey it was my praise and my prayer that sustained me from here to there.” The song goes on to say, “There are days in your life when it seems like God is shining favor on everything you do.”
After partaking of an article, if something in your soul gets stirred up and there is need for further conversation, please contact me so that we may find a venue and engage more people.
What an unexplainable joy to be called to an uncommon ministry. Yes, uncommon in that it is not recommended by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations Transitions Office that a part-time hired minister stays on beyond the minister who hired her leaves. Uncommon in that said part-time hired minister stays on during an interim period. And even more uncommon for the part-time hired minister to receive a call during an interim process. And also uncommon for the congregation to vote for the now called minister to expand the call to a full time parish ministry, to provide an unusual mix of interim and developmental ministry.
Yes, First Unitarian Church of Oakland, this is what you have asked of me and this is what I have said yes to. My role as your part-time Minister for Faith In Action is history and for the next 3 years I SHALL serve members, friends and allies as a not-so-common parish minister, providing a mix of interim/developmental ministries. It is my prayer that by June of 2019 we will have laid the foundation upon which the congregation will joyfully and confidently move into the next right step. I SHALL then move into my next right step as well.
During my first year of interim/developmental ministry, grounded in our shared mission and vision, guided by our through 2016 Transitions Report and in partnership with our Board of Trustees and Committee on Shared Ministry, my focus is a close look at processes, structures and staffing and to offer recommendations for change that better serve current needs and future aspirations. There are ways of being and doing, there are processes and structures that support a beloved church community in motivating and sustaining members, friends and allies. These qualities of being church will allow all to be transformed and to have a transformative impact on the communities they seek to accompany, and the unjust structures that need to be abolished.
This brings me to our first two themes, forgiveness and transformation. Our worship and learning theme for September and October was forgiveness and we focused on the daily practice of letting go of that which has hurt us, and to begin again in love. We also looked at forgiving our ancestors so that we can be free to write new stories that are healing and life giving. Our theme for November and December is transformation. Now that we have let go of some of the stuff on our hearts that shield and deflect love, maybe we are ready for a deeper transformation.
Transformation is defined as a dramatic/profound change in form or appearance and or character. When we say spiritual transformation we are noting a profound change that comes from within and shines forth. In a Unitarian Universalist context, the transformation allows the divine spark that lives within each and all to permeate more of who we are and to unashamedly radiate forth and touch the lives of all we meet. Our divine light illuminates systems of oppression that separate, divide and even kill many of us.
What does forgiveness and transformation have to do with interim/developmental ministry and my role as your uncommon parish minister? Interim/developmental ministry is about inviting you as a congregation to actively envision the congregation of tomorrow. It is about critically and lovingly examining the health of the congregation as a whole and its parts. It is about forgiving yourselves for what needs to be forgiven, having your feelings and genuinely letting go. It is about transforming ways of being and doing; transforming processes and structures so that the WHOLE is more of what you long for and what the communities you accompany hope for.
The success of all ministries, regardless of their flavor, rests on spiritual collaborations. These collaborations are between you the people, me your parish minister and volunteer lay ministers. Won’t you please join me on OUR sacred journeys of interim/developmental ministry?! We are truly “Between Here and There.” Let us be about forgiving what is behind us, within us and between us. Let us open ourselves to personal spiritual transformations so that we may transform our ways of being and doing. Together, let us boldly claim who we are…a radically inclusive, anti-oppressive, spiritually relevant and alive church community. May our praise and prayer inspire and sustain us and provide healing to a hurting yet beautiful world.
With faith and bright hope,