From Reverend Michelle:
I am not, by nature, a patient person.
I’m one of those people who has some trouble being still. Meditation did not come naturally to me. I had to learn to be silent. Given the choice, I prefer to be doing something rather than just being. But stillness is necessary sometimes—such as during a global pandemic that has forced us all into some version of isolation—and so I am still, when the situation calls for it.
In-between places, or liminal spaces if you want to use the technical term, are places of stillness. They’re places of not-quite-going-anywhere. They’re stairwells, doorways, airports, train platforms, doctors’ waiting rooms. By their very nature, they tend to be uncomfortable. They’re not places that are designed to be lived in. And yet, sometimes there are long waits. Sometimes the doctor is running behind or the flight is delayed.
In the limited time that I have been here, I sense a lot of forward energy in this congregation. A lot of big dreams, ideas, and hopes. It’s part of the reason I was drawn here in the first place, was by the energy I could feel all the way in Ohio. And it’s infectious: every time I hear a good idea—and I’ve heard a lot of them!—I want to spring forward, rally the troops, hand over whatever resources are necessary to get it done.
This kind of restlessness is often a sign of anxiety, both in individuals and in systems. It’s quite normal; even aside from this transitional time in this congregation, the world is an anxious place right now. It would be strange if people weren’t anxious. And when we’re anxious, we tend to pace, clean, rearrange furniture, come up with contingency plans.
There’s nothing wrong with that! They’re great plans! I love these ideas! And: the interim period is a place for inward focus, for reflection. When you’re not quite going anywhere yet is the time for the mind to wander. How did I get here? Why am I on this journey? What is this in service of?
It can be so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae, in the forward motion, that we can lose sight of what this is all means and what it’s for. Melva, in her letter, invites us all into a wonderful moment of reflection, to remember what we’re about. To remember what matters to us. To remember why we’re doing the things that we’re doing.
I’m certainly guilty of having made some changes already, most noticeably to worship. I, too, have to take a deep breath and remember how I got here, why I’m on this journey, and what I’m supposed to be doing. My job is to assess the church as a whole, and I don’t even have the full picture right now to assess. And I’ll never get the full picture, if bits and pieces of it keep changing!
Waiting is an anxious time. I don’t love it. But good things come out of stillness, too. We’ll get there.
From Melva Kearny, Board President
Happy October my Friends:
As part of the Building Bridges Capital Campaign in the beginning of 2021, you had the opportunity to write down your hopes and dreams for UCF as part of returning your pledge card. I received your comments and shared them with the Board and the Leadership Council so they would be considered during strategic planning. At the same time, I saved the list to my files, for the sake of congregational history. Yesterday, going through my saved documents for another reason, I found that list and thought you would enjoy reading those comments now, and remembering what you said back then. Hopefully, reading them will help you remember why you decided to contribute so generously to the Campaign and also foster your continued courage as we face upcoming changes.
Common themes emerge in the list. For example, a good deal of the comments expressed your hope for growth in our numbers and in our diversity with comments like “I hope UCF will be a place where more diverse individuals will help the community grow spiritually and in number” and “I hope UCF will become a dynamic, generationally diverse congregation.” Many of you voiced your hopes for a connection to children and young people with comments like “I want UCF to have a robust Children’s RE program” and “I want UCF to have more young people.” Some of you focused on practical matters like “I hope UCF will be financially secure.” Still others hoped for more “variety in worship service topics and formats.” Many responses focused on “not losing sight of our relationships with each other”. You wanted “UCF to continue to be a warm, welcoming family in the larger community, inspiring us to be our best selves and reach out to each other;” and you said you wanted “UCF to be a caring community of people of all ages and backgrounds, who are accepting of all who seek connection.”
Finally, you expressed your hopes and dreams for UCF’s presence in the larger community. Some of these comments were more general, such as “I hope UCF will continue to be a positive influence in the community” and “I hope UCF will continue to grow as a beacon of progressive thought, action, and spirituality.” Others expressed their specific dreams for our new building, hoping it would be used for events in the larger community and for outreach. Still others expressed even more specific ideas, “I want UCF to have tutoring programs for the neighborhood children; a little free library; and study programs for adults and children.” In summary, your hopes and dreams for UCF showed that you would find value in achieving growth in numbers and in diversity, in building greater connection between all members of the church community, and in expanding our reach into the larger community and bringing members of that community into our midst.
As our congregation faces the future, it will no doubt experience the discomfort inherent to making needed and wanted transitions. Moving into our new sanctuary building will be a really welcome transition however. We’ll actually have a brick and mortar home again. Other transitions are yet to be proposed. Some will be the result of the ideas you contributed during the focus groups, still flowing through the committees to eventually materialize into initiatives, programs, and events. Further, Rev. Michelle and the Transition Team are endeavoring to pin down our current identity and discover how best we can unify the congregation into our inherently forward-leaning personality. Getting this right will help us transition as we move into our new facilities and beyond. I know any change can be uncomfortable. Nevertheless, in the face of change, I hope you will find the courage and resilience that is part of being a UU and part of being a UCFer. It will help if you remember the hopes and dreams you voiced for UCF and that we are the only ones who can hold us back from achieving them.
All the best, Melva
It’s a Breeze
Have you set up your access to Breeze yet? Breeze is our church management system that lets us keep track of our members and friends and their contact information, schedule events and access a church calendar, track which groups people belong to including Care Circles, Committees, etc, and so much more.
If you are a Member or Friend of UCF we already have you in the Breeze system, but if you set up a log-in (it’s a breeze!), you can do all of the following:
Go to your profile and check your contact information to be sure it is correct
Edit your contact information if it is incorrect or if it changes
Upload a picture of your face to your profile (optional)
See your contributions to UCF since January 1, 2021
Opt-in or Opt-out of the UCF Member/Friends Directory – if you opt-in, others in the congregation will be able to see your contact information
Access the contact information of others in the congregation who have “opted-in” to the Directory
See the Church Calendar of Events, including services, meetings and special events – by clicking on them you can view details like time, location, Zoom links and other information
The link to our Breeze website is on the bottom left of every page of the UCF website, but can only be used if you have set up your user name and password. If you would like to set up your login or want more information, contact Barb Thomas (firstname.lastname@example.org), Karen Baggott (email@example.com), Jo Ellen Essex (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Liz Morningstar (email@example.com).