This will be my last column because our settled minister, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, will be back from her sabbatical in August. It has truly been an honor to serve you as Sabbatical Interim Minister. All of you have been tremendously kind and supportive of my ministry in your midst. Thank you. In my 40 plus years of ministerial service, I have never served a congregation more committed to justice and truth. You are special, and I want you to know that I believe in your work, and I love you.
Since I am coming to the end of my tenure with you, allow me to leave you with the following challenges. Beloved, I urge you to:
Commit to an action plan of progressive evangelism
I wrote about this in the last newsletter, but I want to re-emphasize the concept. As a congregation you have everything you need to numerically grow. You have a minister who can preach and is a gifted administrator. You have a Board of Trustees that is responsible and handles business with transparency. Your staff in excellent and committed to the success of this church. You have a history of justice.
There are many people who will want to join this fellowship if you commit to attracting them. Respectfully let me remind you that it is not the responsibility of the minister to grow a congregation. The minister’s role is to equip you to grow this congregation. From the Black Church motto, “Shepherds don’t make sheep, sheep make sheep.” Your calling is to make members, and your task is to tell your story as a UU member. Your story will grow your church.
Commit to a year-round stewardship plan
Once upon a time, because of your socio-economic advantage, stewardship drives campaigns were activated once a year and the budget would be secured. But this phenomenon is no longer the case, and the reality is that all of us must think about stewardship in a wholistic manner. Stewardship is not just about money; it is also about time and talent.
Allow your passion to unite with your intellect
Once we were taught that passion and intellect are mutually exclusive. Yet, everything we do in life, that is important to us, demands both passion and intellect.
Thus, I encourage you to bring both head and heart all you do in the life of this congregation. Sing like you mean what you say. Give Rev. Molly or the lay leader an “Amen” sometime. Greet visitors with enthusiasm. Do your individual ministries with all the passion of your heart. I share with you that the things that come from the heart reach the heart of others. Give your all and do not be ashamed to feel the faith you claim.
Rev. Erin Margit Dajka Holley, who serves as Digital Liturgist during Rev. Molly’s sabbatical, agrees that you are a healthy congregation, which is no small compliment. There are so many toxic congregations out there. It is obvious that Rev. Molly has put in the work to create a healthy atmosphere of service and worship. You have been doing the work of growing spiritually. I encourage you to continue to grow in your journey together. Let it be so and amen!
– Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson, Jr.