I am delighted to be serving as Transitional Minister during this coming year. This is a challenging time for All Souls. This is a challenging time for every church. What will regathering ask of us? What has changed? How will connections be renewed and deepened? What are the organizational challenges as the church regathers and prepares to welcome a new called Sr. Minister?
Those are all important questions. But there are more fundamental questions as well. What has All Souls been? Where has this church succeeded wonderfully in bringing more love into the world? Where has the church fallen short? And critically, what will All Souls become as we regather in a multi-cultural and a divided world in which love is not guaranteed to win. What is love asking of us all and of this church, today?
The Senior Minister transition has been a long one for All Souls and much good work has been done in the last two years of Interim Ministry. But last year, as Minister in Residence, I heard from so many of you the need to go deeper.
Here are some of the questions and challenges I hope we can engage this year:
What more healing is needed in the church’s history? What more truth-telling? What more forgiveness? Can this church trust the good news we offer, even though we have embodied that bold vision imperfectly.
What will the balance of in-person and virtual church look like as a new normal emerges. What changes in our habits and in our covenant may be needed so that we can hold one another in love, both in person and at a distance?
What can the new church goals look like in practice? How can staff and the large circle of lay leadership begin to make those goals live in our life together?
Can All Souls live into a more deeply collaborative, less hierarchical leadership style?
What image of Beloved Community can All Souls embrace and what role can All Souls claim in today’s DC and today’s Unitarian Universalism? How can the hope in the congregation’s history be shaped to help the congregation move forward?
We will not answer all these questions this year, nor address every hope. Regathering will not move as fast as we would like, I am sure. The objective is not to check a series of boxes. Creating, renewing and deepening relationship is the goal, not some notion of perfection.
Dealing with these questions, even raising these questions, will test the covenant of this diverse, spirit-growing, justice-seeking Beloved Community. But even to get these questions on “top of the table,” to be able to name them and begin to deal with them openly, can provide firm ground on which new leadership and this congregation can move forward.
I have been recalling the words of Poet Ross Gay this morning:
“…attending to what we love, what we are astonished by, what flummoxes us with beauty, is such critical work. …Studying how we care and are cared for, how we tend and are tended to, how we give and are given, is such necessary work. It makes the world.”