In the Meantime,
Happenings May 11, 2022 – from AZ
When I arrived, back in September of 2020, I quickly latched onto a book by the church consultant Susan Beaumont, “How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You are Going.” At my request both the board and the Transition Team read it and remarked on how it spoke to our situation. Her basic point is that there are times in congregational life when direction is hard to find. She calls these ‘liminal times.’ Any time a congregation is between ministers is liminal, but Covid added another layer of uncertainty.
Almost two years later some uncertainties are less so. You have chosen a new minister, you have a new administrator, Covid is more manageable, Capital planning is back at work. Who could blame you for wanting to wipe your hands and say, “Thank goodness that’s over.”
Guess what? We are still in liminal times. For one, Covid is not done with us. Like all those stereotypical horror movies, when the hero thinks they have destroyed the monster it rears up again, so Covid is proving to be very durable. Does that mean shut down? No, but it does mean using those wristbands to remind you that the ‘monster’ is still out there and a threat to some members and friends if not to you.
Now you are losing another minister, meaning me. Acknowledging that is important, which my interim coach reminded me of this week. Coincidentally, your new minister reminded me of another reason: Andy left unexpectedly and during the worst of the pandemic so there was less opportunity for the institution to acknowledge it. Part of my work when I arrived was dealing with that. In the ‘church biz’ good farewells are necessary to good hellos. More than I need this, you and Rev. Sarah need this – to make a good ending of my service during your liminal time.
Fortunately, you are a healthy bunch by nature and some folks are already at work on something. Whatever and when it is, it will be a time to look back and remember the misattributed advice, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” – FW