• Co-Ministers’ Blog

    It is a brave thing to grapple with our mortality, too. Though we live in a culture that seems to fear or at least wants us hide aging, there are some that respect our elders. Still, every single one of us is going to die, at least our physical bodies will. If we’ve dared to really live, our memories will live on after we’ve shed the mortal cloak; at least, for a while. With billions of people who have lived on the planet, only a few make a difference so large that millions of others remember them. We honor them with holidays and history books, monuments and memorials, for better and for worse.

    The rest of us are no less important though. When we’ve lived well and dared to love, we matter to others. Our presence has an impact as does our absence. Yet, so many of us struggle with whether or not we truly matter. We obsess about doing enough, knowing enough, owning enough. When we put our Unitarian Universalist principles into practice, which is what they are for, then every single person has inherent dignity and worth, including YOU!

    Living our lives with this truth can shape our days.
    We can choose to
    complain,
    blare the horn,
    kvetch and moan,
    dismiss people simply on their looks or their job or their
    choices,
    criticize,
    or harm.

    We can choose to praise,
    wave someone in ahead of us,
    laugh at the strangeness,
    get curious about others,
    ask if someone would like feedback about your experience and then
    actually honor their yes or no,
    or heal.

    We can’t choose how others remember us though we can choose how we live, which in turn creates memories. What legacy will you leave behind? What memories do you want to make before you can no longer remember yourself? What are you waiting for?

    Later this month, we’ll honor our ancestors, those who are biologically related to us as well as those with whom we feel connected or from whom we draw inspiration. We’ll co-create a community altar of photos and mementos to remember, to honor, and to remind us of why living well matters, why community matters.

    In the short time we’ve been with you, two beloved elders have died. Joan Osborne and Bill Hillig. They were generous through their love, their expertise, their complicated lives, and also through naming UU Schenectady as part of their parting wishes. Their invitation to others to donate to this congregation is a meaningful gift, and moves us deeply as people so new to the congregation. To reflect on people who have been members of the congregation since the 1950s, (before we were even born) and to witness how much this congregation has meant to them by including UUSS in their final wishes, is a humbling place to bear witness.

    What might each of us do in the coming days, weeks, months, and years to strengthen this congregation so that it might still be here decades into the future, encouraging spiritual and personal growth, making a difference in the wider community? And more importantly, who might each of us and all of us, be such that UUSS provides leadership in transforming the world through listening, healing, changing, and remembering?

    Posted October 2017

  • Co-Ministers’ Blog

    Every ending often involves a beginning and we have been deeply engaged in endings and beginnings. The search process involves a lot of excitement for the congregation. What it also means is another congregation will likely be entering an interim period. We are incredibly grateful to the staff and congregants of the Sierra Foothills Unitarian Universalists. We asked them to join us in a good good-bye, to lean into ‘all the feels’ as some might say. We were blessed by kindness and well-wishes for a successful ministry in the form of cards, music, a farewell celebration, and care. Some folks even helped us with boxes, packing, loading, and/or moral support for the journey. Our gratitude is bigger than we can express with words.

    For those of you who have connected to UUSS after May 7, it might be helpful to you to know that this congregation engaged in an intense period of self-awareness and significant work during the interim. Rev. Margret O’Neall worked brilliantly with congregational leaders to make significant changes to governance, membership, and stewardship. While that was happening, the congregation elected a Ministerial Search Committee who worked diligently to find a new settled minister. Their efforts led them to choose us to present to the congregation as Candidates for Ministry. On May 7, the members of UUSS wonderfully voted to call us as their next settled ministers and we humbly and joyfully said yes!!! You can learn more about us on the website, if you haven’t read it already. HERE!

    We have been on a steep learning curve with this congregation, this city and greater area, and our new home and office (where is the…????). We are trying to remember how important it is to also care for our own bodies, spirits, minds, and hearts. We carry the grief of loss-our former congregation and area collegial gatherings, proximity to our adult daughter and Lynn’s side of the family, Lynn’s dad who passed into the mystery in early August, and all that was familiar, including the relationships we built in the community/district/region and the landscape of CA. We carry the anticipation of the new and the joy of being closer to some of Wendy’s East coast family and a few of our friends, and getting to know the flora and fauna of NY. (Fireflies are so cool!)

    Since August 1, we have also been working with the FABULOUS staff and lay leadership as we learn how church ‘works’ here. As your new co-ministers, we know there is much to learn about the culture in the congregation and in the community. We are asking lots of questions. We have fresh eyes to gaze upon the people, the relationships, the systems, the physical space, and the channels of communication and accountability that help (or hinder) UU Schenectady live most fully into its mission. How does this work? What is the policy about this? Who has the authority to make a decision? Does this fit with the mission? When does leadership say yes? When do we need to say no? Whose voice is missing from this conversation? Are white supremacy culture behaviors influencing this process/conversation/decision/policy/practice and if so, how do we change that? How does policy-based governance work now to bring forward the gifts and ministries that are most needed? People have been so open to our questions, often grappling with them too. Our gratitude is bigger than we can express with words.

    In faith, anticipation, and joy,
    Rev. Wendy and Rev. Lynn

    Posted September 2017