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Desert Notes June 8, 2023

Love is our Doctrine. Service is our prayer. Justice is our calling.

Desert Notes June 8, 2023

Last weekend I held a new participant class for eight people, all of whom have joined!  We’ll celebrate them a little later this summer.  Some of them were lifelong UU’s, some totally new to UU, some had been UU’s elsewhere.  We’ll start a new round of welcome lunches and classes in August. Stay tuned! We also had our flower communion and annual congregational meeting, attended by 33 folks online and 127 (?) in person.  With a very healthy quorum we elected folks to the board of trustees, special funds committee, and leadership development committee, while also affirming the budget proposed by the BOT.  We had some of our newest members stay to watch (they’ll be able to vote next time).  We also produced an end of year report which many of you have read already.  This is a great way to get  sense of the work being done here at VUU Thanks to all who contributed!

This summer promises to be busy and productive as well.  I am traveling with the Coming of Age youth from June 10-14 and then attending our denomination’s General Assembly in Pittsburgh from June 18-25. I’ll be on study leave after that until July 29.  

Unitarian Universalism is different in many ways from others, and some of you have noted you find it odd how much your minister and other staff get time off from Sunday worship.  This is because across the denomination we have standard contracts that give ministers and all staff involved in Sunday worship who work full time to have one Sunday off per month.  In addition, ministers receive four weeks of study leave and four weeks of vacation, and earn one month of sabbatical leave per year served, to be taken after four years of service and before seven years of service.  Many congregations have begun to give study leave also to their faith Formation leaders and Music leaders.  For me, June and July are a time to re-set for the next congregational year–to review our work together, to catch up on admin tasks that might have taken the back-seat and to plan for the next year.  In addition, it’s a time to rest, reconnect with family, and renew my own commitment to this work.  

This summer I will be organizing various strategic planning retreats with different parts of our community (as folks are available and willing!) and working with staff.  Music Director Katie Seiferth will attend the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries conference from July 11-18, giving her more insight into and connection with UU Music Ministries around the country and some resources for continuing to build our program.  Together we will be doing some catch up work in organizing worship materials (digital and tangible!) and researching what worship includes in other innovative congregations (UU and progressive non-UU communities) that are a similar size to VUU.  This will include both in person and online visits.  We both have some professional development resources we will be diving into as well.  In addition, we are planning a July 29 retreat for all folks involved in making Sundays happen.  Worship, Music, Tech, Welcoming and Hospitality, and Faith Formation folks will have a chance to see themselves as a larger team that shares responsibility for making Sundays welcoming and deepening time to come together.  

Since we don’t work from a lectionary or from scriptures that are the same year after year, planning UU worship and Faith Formation activities takes a different approach.  Our theology also asks us to create a community that is not just staff led but is truly shared ministry–led by staff and by lay leaders who are willing to also invest time and energy into learning and planning and transforming our practices in ways that are generative and collaborative.  This approach also assume that we as leaders are humans who also need rest, time to reflect, and and time to research and time to re-orient ourselves.  So I invite you to also take some time to reflect on this year–what has worked for you?  What has been a barrier to your growth and sense of wholeness?  What has moved or inspired you, what has allowed you to see something new and to understand something differently?

In gratitude,

Rev. Sarah