Photo courtesy Matthew Cohen Photography
There are certain moments that I will never forget. One of those moments was the day I turned thirty. I happened to be on vacation at the time. In fact, I had left Martha’s Vineyard where I was serving the Unitarian Universalist Society to join my parents vacationing in San Miguel d’Allende, Mexico. Knowing that the Ministerial Search Committee of Channing Memorial Church would soon be making a decision, I called the Chairperson to let her know of my plans. My heart leapt when she called back to ask for a phone number where I could be reached in San Miguel just in case. Perhaps those folks felt the same sense of connection and possibility as I had during my pre-candidating weekend in Newport when the Search Committee and I exchanged our views of church and ministry. Although I was hopeful, I tried to push it from my mind.
My folks and I were preparing to go out for dinner to celebrate my birthday when the phone rang. I had never before and have not since received a better birthday present! I accepted the invitation to be the Ministerial Candidate of Channing Memorial Church. After warm embraces from my parents, we left the house for the cobbled stone streets of San Miguel. The setting sun cast a glow that made the colors of the brightly painted houses and flowering plants even more brilliant. As my spirit soared, bells of a nearby church rang out! My parents and I laughed with joy in the beauty of the moment and the bright promise the future held.
In the Unitarian Universalist movement, the ministerial search process is an intense experience for both the minister and congregation. Both parties need to consider their history, style, strengths, weaknesses, goals, and dreams. Both parties prepare what is known as a packet, a binder filled with information more elaborate than a job description or a resume. After all, a church is not a business, a school, a club, or a service organization. Foremost, a church is a community of people with shared values, needs, and aspirations. Likewise, a minister does not just punch a time-clock and perform certain tasks ministry is a vocation or way of life that calls the minister to offer her thoughts, caring, ideas, and faith in service to the community.
I am fortunate to have found a good match at Channing Memorial Church. The congregation’s vision of “Ministry Together” a strong partnership between lay leaders and a professional minister suited my collaborative style. It has been a gift for me to work with such talented, intelligent, and committed people. Together we have faced significant challenges, shared precious moments, and accomplished a great deal. I am proud that our church is now not only on the tourist map but known for making a difference in people’s lives.
Now, I am saying farewell to Channing Memorial Church and Newport, Rhode Island. Sunday, June 20th at 10:00am will be my farewell sermon. There are a variety of factors leading to my decision to depart. I will be taking time to consider new directions in my professional life such as ways to incorporate theatre and ministry, and pursuing further education. I also look forward to spending more time with my daughter Liza without the challenge of balancing full-time ministry and motherhood. Our family will be moving to Cambridge, MA.
Since announcing my resignation, Newport Daily News readers have approached me on the street to thank me for my columns. Many people have shared how my words have lifted your spirits or given you new insights. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my perspective with a wider audience. Just as my life has been shaped by the Channing community, living in Newport has been a blessing that I will carry with me always.
As a parting gift, I leave you with my prayer: O Creator, who creates life and to which all life returns, you are as close as our beating heart and the cycle of breath. Where there are unresolved troubles in our minds, may we find clarity of purpose. Where there are heavy burdens in our hearts, may we discover a healing path. Where ever there is pain, whether in our lives, in our circle of loved ones, or in our world, may we become divine messengers through our prayers, our actions and our words. Peace to all. Love to all. Blessed Be.