March was a “pile it on” month. In Ellsworth we held eight small-group discussions that will lead, we hope, to the articulation of a new mission statement; I took part in most of them, as did Rev. Sara, Robin Lovrien, and Mary Haynes. In Belfast, several people asked me to meet for pastoral care in Rev. Deane’s absence, and I led multigenerational worship, which, darn it, played much better for the adults than the children. (Lessons learned helped a new version of that service in Ellsworth the following week, where I also led a midweek, “welcome spring” vespers service.) In Castine, I was finally able to join their Social Justice Committee for a meeting! Unless I’m preaching, Saturday is normally my one cleanly “off” day, but in March I attended three Saturday workshops in a row—in Bangor, Framingham, MA, and Ellsworth. Whew!
The Collaborative Ministry Team did not meet in February, since two of our three ministers were away, but several of us regret that. We did meet in March to plan additional three-church activities for this year: another collaborative book discussion and a second film at the Alamo in Bucksport. The book, Hillbilly Elegy, is described elsewhere in this issue, and watch the UUBB and next month’s newsletter for details on the film.
April will also include some travel. I’ll join the New England Region’s UU ministers at their spring retreat early in the month and then will travel to Woburn, MA with several from our churches for our first Regional Assembly, April 21-22. They both promise to be well-filling. Back at my desks, surveying our congregations on how members might like to expand their social justice focus is at the top of my list.
Winds of change are stirring. Before March is out, the primary candidate to be next year’s intern will have been interviewed. As I write, I have just 13 weeks left in my internship, and it’s jarring to realize I won’t be in “my” churches for events now being discussed. In fact, interns are supposed to break contact with their internship congregations for a year afterward, and I’ll be talking shortly with the director of ministerial credentialing about how to apply that rule to our extraordinary situation.
Meanwhile, I have 13 weeks full of wonderful people hither and yon and will savor those relationships.
With blessings and love,
Meanwhile, I am much more present and active in Ellsworth, my primary church this year, and more visibly present in Castine. In February I’ll meet with our Church Council to talk about the kinds of things I do in Ellsworth and what it might be like for Belfast next year, when ours will be the primary church for the next intern. An exciting new realm of possibility will open!
Why am I less visible in Belfast? There are two solid reasons that play against Belfast in my internship and will be strongly to Belfast’s favor if next year’s internship goes to Amy Fiorelli, a ministerial candidate in Ellsworth’s congregation who will be vetted as intern before anyone else. Both reasons originate with the all-important UUA Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC), which doesn’t normally let interns serve their home congregations at all. That’s because you and I tend to relate to one another as peers, which is very different from my stepping into religious leadership and you perceiving me as a leader. The MFC gave me permission to do this internship but advised me to avoid certain roles in Belfast.
A separate dynamic is that the point of this year is for me to try new things and round out any weak spots in my ministerial training. The MFC’s staff person told me pointblank that I shouldn’t do things in Belfast that I’ve done here before, because I’m supposed to spend all my time learning how to fill new roles. For that reason, I haven’t led worship in Belfast and won’t until March 19, when I’ll try to meet the challenge of giving a multigenerational service that stirs hearts and minds of all ages. Now that will be a learning experience!
Thank you for all of the ways you support me in this essential piece of ministerial formation. I miss being with you regularly and look forward to experiencing how Spirit will move among us on March 19.
With love, Lane