“Imagine if the practical and administrative work of the church – meetings, planning, teaching, etc — was understood not as a necessary evil but as an integral part of the mission of the church to spiritually nurture us. Imagine church not as a place led by overly taxed people but one where leadership is a broadly shared ministry that members of the community undertake for the sheer joy of it.”
– from Serving with Grace by Erik Walker Wikstrom
Service as a spiritual practice, the meeting room as a zendo, the work of a task force as a kind of group prayer and committee work as engaging in transformation: why did I never think of doing this work in those terms? I describe the role of the Board of Trustees as “doing the work of the church” (actually, these are Rev. Linda’s words) and we do. And a major “Aha!” moment this past month has been the incredibly rich spiritual, heart-filling sustenance I feel from the past year of working together to figure out how to support our staff, our congregation and each other as we try to figure out every month how to meet the challenges we encounter in this choppy Pandemic Sea:
- How do we stay connected in a time of mandated distance?
- How do we stay financially solvent when congregants are struggling?
- How do we maintain our building and grounds without being there?
- How do we support those for whom electronic connection doesn’t work?
- How do we live our principles as a community in a virtual environment?
- How do we replace those casual conversations after church when we learn so much about each other and the spiritual work we want to do?
- How do we integrate newcomers in a virtual environment?
- How do we know – or can we know – when and how to gather together in person again?
Every summer the Board gathers for a retreat day to connect with each other, welcome incoming members, create the beginnings of a blended team, and focus on learning and developing our goals for the year. Last July we met virtually, a very different experience than meeting in person where we could share a pot-luck meal, and enjoy not only the group experience, but have the opportunity to enjoy more intimate conversations with our mates. So much happens with the synergy of face-to-face interaction that just doesn’t happen with Zoom – bless its little digital heart.
With a resiliency nurtured by the joy and inspiration of connecting around and constantly keeping in mind shared principles, this Board of Trustees continues to work toward our primary goal of helping TUUC survive, even thrive, as a beloved community both within and beyond our walls. Every meeting we tackle the “hows” that we determine are of the highest priority, keeping the others simmering on the back cauldron. And we remain flexible, understanding that the only constant is change. What doesn’t change, is the fire of our commitment to seek paths through this unknown that will most benefit you, the congregation.
A stunning example of our community’s resilience is the incredible generosity you have demonstrated during our recent pledge drive to raise the funds we need to finance the upcoming fiscal year. We are enormously grateful. Alana Franklin led a small and mighty team with a campaign that inspired congregants to support the work of this church for another year. Have we met our goal? Not yet. But even though the pledge drive is officially “over,” every day more financial commitments arrive as you continue to dig deeply and express with your generosity what this community means to you. Some folks, including Dave and I, have been able to increase our initial commitment. Without the weekly infusion of hope we experienced with TUUC, this past year would have been so much harder to endure. Our pledge honors that.
I perceive a financial pledge as reflecting both optimism and love and representing an investment in the not-so-far-away future of gathering together in person. To be clear: it is not the amount of the commitment but the act of commitment that is important. Your pledge of $5.00 a month makes a difference. Stewardship – the financial and emotional nurturing of our community – has no deadline and helps us share our light and widen our circle.
Leadership, committee work, teaching, facilitating learning, telling stories, pledging financial support, pulling weeds in the parking lot, helping install a porta-potti for guests living in their cars, telling the owner of the local bar about our Safe Parking project, singing with the sound muted during Zoom church, figuring out how to trim the budget: all these and more are spiritual practices, a form of prayer or meditation, a path to transformation. We welcome all who join in. And, we are grateful.
President, Board of Trustees