Friday, November 27, 2015

December, 2015

Dear Ones,

As always I am in disbelief that another year will soon pass. It is this time of year many are consumed by deciding which behaviors they will change for the new year or making resolutions. I stopped making resolutions a long time ago. I focus on the Roman god Janus. Looking back as well as looking forward. I've learned a lot about myself, and you, over the past year, particularly in the past few months.

Looking back I'm able to pick out a few major lessons like sometimes ego can blind you to realities, email stinks, most of the time, to communicate effectively, and that when relationships break we can repair them instead of throwing them away. Looking ahead I've decided to change a few things. Taking the next step in caring for my health as well as making a few adjustments in my ministry are commitments I'll be making.

I'm presently engaged in changing and enhancing my sermon writing and delivery. I've realized that writing and delivering sermons has become more like an errand for me. My sermons fill the space and serve their function. But I see sermon writing as a craft, one that exercises passion and wish to return to that. Many ministers face this dilemma sooner or later. If I allow my ego to step aside I will better be able to inspire.

My generation is very comfortable with email and social media to communicate. The problem is that others feel differently and perhaps see a phone call or face to face contact as the best way to communicate. Recognizing that email allows the misinterpretation of tone and intent I'm committing to using email less this year which will save me headache and heartache in my ministry.

Like precious furniture I have some relationships in the congregation in storage waiting for repair. We all do or say things that effect our relationships even if there was no intention present. I am no different. I do believe that when something we care for is broken we should fix it rather than throw it away. I'm committed to begin this work.

Reflecting on where and who we have been and where and who we would like to be may be a comfortable process this time of year. I hope you, too, might take this time for discernment. It is right and meaningful work. May each of be blessed in the New Year.

Blessings, Rev. CJ

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November 2015


Most of you know I spent nearly a week in Mount Dora, Florida recently with my colleagues. Twice each year all the ministers in Florida gather for collegiality, development, and organizational matters of the Florida Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association ( FUUMA). I serve on the executive committee of FUUMA as a Good Officer. This means I help guide FUUMA as well as act as minister to the ministers of Florida.

During my time in Mount Dora I was able to worship twice each day and had time for spiritual practice. We engaged a program around Black Lives Matter. I shared our experiences. I also met an inspiring black minister, Rev. Poole, who has -- against all odds -- planted the Grace African Methodist Episcopal Church in The Villages in Marion county. Rev. Poole's father was the president of the NAACP during the Civil Rights movement and succeeded the president who's home was bombed and destroyed. This offers a unique perspective on the lives of people who are black and the movement. I would have joined his congregation as a member on the spot. He was that inspiring!

I lead a workshop with the second Good Officer, the Rev. Dr. Sara Zimmerman. She will be our guest speaker in November. UU Ministers are held accountable to a code of ethics that guides our behavior and relationships with each other and those we serve in our congregations. New guidelines are being considered around ministers and social media. Sara and I presented this information and facilitated a feedback session with our colleagues. This feedback is given to the Guidelines Committee so guidelines can be created and eventually adopted. I also spent time with the executive committee managing FUUMA issues and planning.

I share this with you because I want you to understand how your minister seeks development and serves in other capacities. My most important role is to serve our congregation. One that is dear to me. I also serve Unitarian Universalism. I contribute to FUUMA, I've served the UUA on committees, and I'm an Adjunct Professor of Ministerial Formation at Meadville Lombard Theological School. I contribute to the formation of future ministers of our faith. I also serve the free church. I contribute to promoting the mission and ideals of the free church in the world.

I serve as minister, teacher, and believer. Unitarian Universalism goes beyond our walls. There are many ways to serve our movement, our tradition, and our faith. A good place to start is within our congregation, but I hope your arms and heart will stretch wider as you consider how you can best serve our saving faith.

Blessings,   Rev. CJ