Reverend Mike’s Wayside Pulpit
As I sat there in New Orleans, with thousands of fellow UUs at General Assembly, I was reminded about the rich variety of spiritual expression, work for justice, and care for beings that are hallmarks of our religious movement. That week was, for me, full of so many hellos, and a bit overwhelming with too many good-byes.
So it is during congregational transitions, as well. Saying good-bye to long-time ministers that you have grown to love is hard to do. In saying good-bye to Revs. Wendy and Lynn, I hope everyone took time to appreciate how they helped guide this congregation in a time of growth and maturation, helping you all to express progressive values and our UU principles during a time that our country is experiencing rancor and polarization. Our values are more important than ever, so that is something you can hold onto, even after your beloved leaders have departed. I hope to continue this good work in my time with you.
I and my partner, Glenn, arrived in Auburn in late July. It is August 1st as I write this – my first official day working with you. I should address some worries that may arise, based on what I’ve noticed from my work in other congregations in the past. The first is that I want to alleviate any worry that I will come in and change everything… My process is collaborative, and that starts with a period of listening (and continuing to listen throughout the years of our time together.) Another is that I might not respect where you have been and what you have accomplished as a congregation. It will be very important to name and claim your past, and to honor all the successes and relationships you have built in the past and present, and will continue to build in the future.
A few words about me: First called to religious leadership in my teens, I finally answered the call in 2005 and was ordained by the First UU Society of San Francisco in 2010. This was after earning two graduate degrees and a ministerial internship at the First UU Church of San Diego. I’ve since served at the Rowe UU Camp and Conference Center in western Massachusetts (where I met my partner, Glenn Morrison in 2010), then interims at the Kitsap UU Fellowship in Washington state and the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania. All of this work of ministry followed a fifteen-year career in nursing, with half of that time on active duty in the US Navy. In my younger years, I worked at the LGTB Center in Sacramento, leading youth groups, among other things. I found my way there after growing up in Georgetown, over the river and through the dale from Auburn. In some ways, I feel like I’m ‘coming home,’ for this interim I will serve with you. In our personal lives, Glenn and I appreciate the arts, such as creating textiles (we both weave, I crochet and Glenn knits) and making music (Glenn plays the Celtic Harp and I play the Hammered Dulcimer.) And, we are entertained by the antics of our cat, Vera.
While this summer may have been challenging, I trust in your ability to hold the sacred space, be the caring community I know you are, and also to continue being leaders for justice in your local community. Take this time to consider who you are as a congregation and how you will continue to provide a liberal spiritual home for many others, long-time members and brand new UUs that just showed up.
May it ever be so and blessed be to you all,