Showing posts from 2016

A New Year's Eve Message

Dear Ones, Welcome to 2017!  If you're like me you're glad to put 2016 behind us. Like it or not, Donald Trump will soon be inaugurated as our next President. There will also be a "Freedom Concert" in Miami on Inauguration Day that will be televised as an anti-Trump protest. I wonder how Unitarian Universalists will manage this on January 20? Whatever you do, know that our Congregation has many ways to stay informed and become active. We know the next four years will test our progressive voices, and remember, you're not alone.  On  January 19th  during our Teaching  Thursday  presentation Allen Maxwell will offer    WHEN THE RUBBER HITS THE ROAD: SMOOTH PAVEMENT, SKID MARKS AND CRASHES? --THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP’S CAMPAIGN PROMISES .    On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, our resident and retired Professor of Political  Science, Allen Maxwell will present his thoughts and ask you to join him in speculating  about whether or not,

Commitment for 2017

Friends, The new year is around the corner and it's about this time I reflect on the past year and set goals for the new year. I guess you could call them resolutions. I wonder if you have a similar practice. I've decided that one thing I'll commit to in 2017 is to hold reasonable expectations of myself and for others in my life. I decided this after re-reading my favorite book on ministry leadership,  Leading With A Limp  by Dan Allendar. I love how honest Allender is. It’s refreshing because he says things that most of us are afraid to say -- the simple truth of realities. The chapter in which Allender writes this is about counting the cost of leadership.  It’s simply an honest look at the unrealistic expectations we create for people. I'm going to be intentional about practicing what I preach and let people know I have their back, expect them to make mistakes and not be good at everything, confront them with grace and gentleness and understanding that my specific

Off to New York and Canada

I'm off to New York and Canada at the end of this week. Richard and I are celebrating Thanksgiving with my family and friends and sneaking off to Montreal for a day. I'm not going to make a big deal about the weather there. Though there is snow, ice, and it's 27 degrees Fahrenheit as I write this, but I said I wouldn't make a big deal of it. So, I won't! Like the world around us congregations, too, have seasons. The sunshine of summer, the rain of spring, the crispness of fall, and the cold of winter. Even if we experience seasons in a different way in Florida we can imagine the cycle. There are bright times and grey times in the cycle and in congregations. As we will learn during our Yule service in December, in the grey times there is always hope and anticipation of returning light. I no doubt have caused confusion and some might view my willingness to continue to serve you as a bright time. Others may feel otherwise. We do find common ground in our current &quo

Forever Connected, Grateful

Dear Ones, You know how it is when you take on a do-it-yourself project and you sail along pretty well until you reach a part of the job that stumps you? When we find ourselves in this spot we have two choices. First, we can continue the job and risk the whole project.  Second, we can identify our limits and ask another professional to manage the next steps allowing the project to continue smoothly. There is a saying in developmental ministry, "A good minister knows when to leave." A developmental minister arrives to support the congregation to move toward health. The developmental minister knows that while doing that work there will be some peaks and valleys in their relation to the congregation. I'm proud of where the congregation will be in 2017 when I leave, compared to when I arrived in 2013. Many have observed the same. Just as in the do-it-yourself project I mentioned above, I know when my capacity to do the work is done and when it is time for you to inv

August 2016

I'm presently in the Adirondacks winding up my time here preparing for my return to Florida.  I always get what some might call the "church itch" this time of year. That is, I am eager and ready to return to congregational life. As your minister I have the privilege of having a birds eye view of congregational life and the year ahead of us. I'm excited by the opportunities that some of our present challenges will bring. Claudia, our Intern Minister joins us this month. Watch your newsletter for Claudia's schedule week to week. We have a hand in Claudia's formation as she moves toward ordination as a Unitarian Universalist minister. I already know that we will be blessed by her presence here. Our board and committees have a lot in store for us. We will go deeper in racial justice, we will have a new website, membership will have a new focus with "200 by 2020" as their guide, there will be a concert series with many local musicians, our focus on financ

Not a Rule Follower

I tend not to follow the rules. Just ask the Catholic nuns who exhaustingly tried to rear me.  There are several unwritten rules of ministry.  I'm afraid I've broken some rules since I joined you in 2013. For example, I once moved all the tables in Ministers Hall. I once moved the pulpit to the floor as an experiment. A new minister should never do that. When a minister arrives at a congregation his or her mantra should be, "Change is undesirable at this time...change is undesirable at this time...."  Sometimes it's necessary to not follow the rules. For me rules are worth breaking if it's for the sake of growth for us as individuals, our spiritual maturity, and if the rule breaking will move us closer to the congregation you dream of.  I'm sure you could share your own instances where not following the rules may be justified. I've led you to an announcement. I have decided, as proposed to the Sanctuary Services Group, to change the format of the ord

July 2016

Dear Ones, So much has happened in our country this past week. So much to digest, to consider, and to find our way out of.  I'm sure your heart is as heavy and your confusion and anxiety might have increased like mine has. I hold all that has happened and discern what my response should be as your minister and how I might comfort the Congregation and lead our Congregation to a response worthy of our Unitarian Universalist faith. I have a new hero. His name is David Brown and he is the Chief of Police in Dallas, Texas. He is my hero because I admire his courage, his reproach of conventional wisdom, and his call for all of us to do the right thing no matter what. These attributes might lead us in the right direction in responding to personal, local, and global issues. You may know that Chief Brown encouraged those who have been protesting to get off the protest line and apply for a job. Moving from frustration to community service. “We’re hiring,” he said. “Get out of that protest li

Call to Action

I gave those assembled a call to action related to advocacy for sensible gun policy during our service on Sunday. I'm grateful the message was well received. I know you're waiting to hear some of what you might do to answer this call. I've listed a few things here for us and others: 1. Watch how your Senator votes today, Monday, June 20th. Go to or other sites for more information. Advocate accordingly. 2. Lobby County Commissioners for local policy changes. Go to 3. Join the Palm Beach County Progressive Roundtable. We don't have to reinvent the wheel. This group makes sure all progressive grassroots organizations are collaborative in advocacy. 4. Support organizations with our progressive values. 5.  Volunteer in campaigns that bring the best candidates to the White House, the Senate, and Congress. 6.  Lobby Congressman Patrick Murphy. 2000 PGA Blvd. Suite A3220 Palm Beach Gardens, FL  33408  phone 561.253.8433  Fax 561.253.8436 7. 

I'm Proud of Us

I'm proud of us. I'm proud that we are hosting families this week. Families that are homeless. I can't help thinking, "There but for the grace of what I call God go I." People that have families and jobs but simply do not earn enough to secure housing. Imagine the relief you might feel when you and your children know where there meals are coming from and where they will sleep without needing to move for six days. I'm proud of us. I'm proud that we are practicing what we preach when we name freedom of belief as foundational to our faith. Our Congregation has welcomed the Palm Beach Pagans with open arms and minds. Like UU's, Pagans are misunderstood and it's hard to find allies in this culture. This group has already brought so much to our Congregational life. I hope to see you at the Summer Solstice ritual and BBQ this Saturday at 3pm. I'm grateful for what we have in common and our deliberate community of free thinkers. I'm pr

May 2016

Every year around this time I have an uneasy feeling. Our congregation changes as our snowbirds fly north. I have grown to anticipate this season of migration, but I don't like it. I prefer we be together. Our snowbirds offer us so much through their ministries. They support and sustain our congregation in many ways. Their return is something to look forward to. As I make my own plans to rove this summer I'm planning for our next church year. There is lots to look forward to. One thing in particular is our Intern Minister, Claudia Jiminez. Claudia will be preaching here on May 22 and will offer time for a Q & A during coffee hour. Claudia will also be meeting with our Board of Trustees in anticipation of a formal invitation to join us. I do hope your curiosity will bring you to our service on May 22. Once formally invited, Claudia  will be an additional religious professional on campus. She will be here for two years and part-time. This internship is important

April 2016

Dear Ones, Over the weekend I officiated the memorial service for Charlotte Callahan. As her husband Jim and their children shared stories of Charlotte I was touched. I learned a lot about Charlotte and her life-long commitment to fairness and justice. I also learned that Charlotte is an example of how we can transform the world. Her family shared examples of how she changed the world one person at a time. You may have heard me say over and over again that we don't necessarily need to march or protest to bring about change. We can be intentional about changing minds one person at time through conversation, advocacy, and living as an example. While at Charlotte's service I was approached by two people I had never met. They thanked me for my articles in the Palm Beach Post and told me, "You are our voice. Please continue."  I assured them that I would, we would. We sometimes never know the lives we are touching or the change we are creating. I've been inspired to

March 2016

In his sermon yesterday, Mathew Sydney described one of the tenets of his faith as honoring and actively caring for the earth. The beautiful way he articulated it captivated me. It's the way I articulate our ministry. Look around you. Look at all we do to transform lives through liberal religious community. Our mission. We respond to many calls for help from and to be allies to many in our community. We are able to gather freely and welcome those who are looking for a spiritual home. We are the liberal voice in our area. We have buildings that offer space for learning, worship, and outreach to so many. And so we need to actively care for our Congregation and its people. If you support an organization financially I urge you to make our Congregation a priority. Here you build your spiritual home that helps you articulate your values, live your values, and one that will support you with learning, friendship, and fellowship. We need to remain strong and viable. We need staff, we need b

February 2016

The past couple of months have been busy for pastoral care. There have been a few instances in particular that caused me to pause and realize that we as a congregation sometimes have no idea what our fellow congregants might be managing, battling, or reconciling. Imagine sitting in service on Sunday and looking to your left and to your right. What are these dear people holding that we may never know about. That is, unless we ask, offer a loving supportive touch, and take interest.  We are a family with family dynamics and typical family struggles. But our struggles are sometimes hidden, unknown, and held silently from one another. It's what we do as humans.   We believe we can handle everything on our own. Our pride and ego stand in the way. Shame and the thought of being a burden creep in. What do we expect from one another? I mean our congregational relationships should be deep, connected, without judgement and holy honesty. That is the kind of place we are. A place where you c

January 18, 2016

Dear Ones, This past week was challenging. We hosted most of our usual renters, our Buddhist friends, and two families that are homeless. I asked you to make sacrifices of your time, space, and usual comforts. I did wonder what it was like for you to meet in cramped spaces, have your gatherings in spaces that are not your usual spots, and what it was like to share resources. I agree that this past week wasn't the perfect week for me to agree to host families. A funny thing about the homeless -- they can't plan when they will need us. But we were there when they needed us. I wondered about other things this week too. What is it like to be homeless? What is it like not knowing where your next meal will come from? What is it like living in a classroom with a baby and feeling like you're imposing? What is it like not having a consistent space where you can gather with others of your faith? One thing that comforted me this week was knowing we were living our mission. Although th