With both joy and sorrow, I write this note to each of you to mark the official conclusion of our time as minister and congregation. I was grateful to celebrate this wonderful journey with many of you on the 17th for our final worship service – for those of you not able to be there I hope you’ll check the sermon I offered that morning, as it offers my closing thoughts about our journey and the future for TRUU.
Since that Sunday, I have continued to serve as your minister, though in less visible ways. I attended General Assembly in Phoenix, where I gathered with thousands of other Unitarian Universalists from across the country specifically to reflect on immigration and matters of justice and social change in our faith communities. If you haven’t yet perused the UU World articles about GA or the summaries at uua.org, I encourage you to do so – everyone who I have spoken to who attended considers that it was a transformative experience. You can find the articles here: http://blogs.uuworld.org/ga/ and here: http://www.uua.org/ga/2012/index.shtml.
Additionally, during the last weeks of June, I closed out a few “to-dos” in the business of TRUU, finalized the plans for the summer calendar, ensured we had reserved our space, and handed things off to lay leaders and to Amy. After this note, I just have one more to-do and then it appears, I will be done.
I have also been following our statewide struggles with fires, and watched closely the Pine Ridge fire and the recent airplane crash at No Name creek. I am grateful that no one from the TRUU community has been directly impacted by these fires. However, the summer promises to be hot and dry, and so I was appreciative that our larger Association offered their support in response to our dangerous and in some cases already-disaster-ridden state.
First, the Mountain Desert District (MDD) established an Emergency Relief Fund to support those who have been impacted by the fires. This Fund will support first Unitarian Universalists, and then if there are remaining funds, others in the District impacted by the many fires. This Fund seeks to be a standing source of support for our community across the mountain west in the face of any community crises. TRUU’s Board has voted to donate the collection of the plate from the gathering on July 8th to support this Fund, and may consider an annual contribution. You can also donate directly by submitting your check to the MDD Emergency Relief Fund at 2242 South Albion St, Denver, CO 80222. Paypal contributions will soon be accepted at mdduua.org. Additionally, the MDD website will soon provide information about how to apply to receive funds in case you or someone you know has such a need.
As another way of demonstrating its support, the Association brought in its Trauma Response team to meet with area clergy, and specifically the congregations in Colorado Springs area facing the greatest immediate vulnerability. This meeting offered specific tools to address Disaster Preparedness in congregations, as well as information for clergy on meeting the particular needs which arise in the face of a community crisis. If you want to learn more about our Trauma Response team, check out this link: http://www.traumaministry.org/. We all hope and pray that there will not be a need for such preparedness, but if these fires do continue to threaten our communities, it is so good to know that we have these larger circles of care and concern available and ready to respond to support us and our communities.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, over these past few weeks, I have also been in active conversation with your new minister, Amy Rowland, as she begins her preparations for the coming year. Amy and I overlapped at Iliff for a couple years, and we participated in group spiritual direction sessions offered to Unitarian Universalist seminarians. Through these opportunities, I have come to know and deeply respect Amy and her many gifts for ministry. She has a wide and deep heart, a ready laugh, and a strong grounding in the life of the spirit. I can think of no one better suited to serve as your spiritual leader as you move into your bright and beautiful future.
I have shared with Amy my understanding of TRUU’s story, and have provided her some of the basics about TRUU’s many strengths and emerging opportunities. However, this conversation with Amy necessarily must continue by way of her moving into conversation with all of you. She will need you to help her know both the practicalities and the emotional realities at work within your community. I encourage you to share as openly as you can what has brought you to TRUU, what you experience as its struggles, and what you see as its potential. Share with her the yearnings of your heart, so that together you can partner well on creating TRUU’s future.
Even as we say goodbye, and I conclude my time as your minister, you can trust that I will follow news of TRUU with great pride and gratitude – through newsletter articles, and by running into many of you at state, district, regional and even national UU gatherings. And in this way, we will continue to be partners in this great work of building the Beloved Community. I look forward to seeing what great things you will do, what beautiful sanctuary you will create for your community, and what hope you will bring to the wider world.
With love, and in faith,
and mostly, with gratitude –