I have been dreading writing this column for over a year. Even as I start to begin typing, I really don’t know what to do. For the record, this is my 220th UCE monthly newsletter column. Holy Mackerel! And now I get to say goodbye…except I don’t know how.
I guess what I have to say is thank you…thank you for standing by me for all these years. A lot happened and you went through it with me, or maybe, we went through it together.
You supported me when I was elected to the Canadian Unitarian Council Board and later became its President. Then you gave me leave to go and work for several years as President of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, telling me that was part of the work of this church.
You were equally supportive when I joined the Steering Committee (along with Audrey Brooks) of the Capitol Region Interfaith Housing Initiative here in Edmonton.
Those were just of the few things my position here allowed me to do outside our walls.
I had the honour of working alongside so many of you as we acquired and built this church building.
You were there when I started a family, and welcomed my extended, blended family as well.
You cheered me on when I took a cooking sabbatical and gave me lots of opportunities to show off my new found skills.
You have also been very kind and supportive during my eight years doing long-distance cycling fundraising, though there have been some, “Are you nuts?” quizzical looks.
During my years of service, I have worked with Boards led by 14 different Presidents, always amicably. I have worked alongside two Administrators and eight different Directors of Religious Exploration, not to mention our wonderfully constant pair of Chorealis co-directors who doubled as Sunday accompanists.
I have had the pleasure of welcoming new members, and the bittersweet joy of bidding farewell to those who choose a new path for themselves.
I have had the privilege of marrying, welcoming new life and saying farewell to those who have died. In many ways that work has felt like the prize for doing all the other tasks of ministry. Being with people in their most joyful and sorrowful moments is a gift that stays in the heart long after the service ends.
And perhaps the greatest honour of all has been that you showed up on Sundays to listen to my words. Though a sermon appears to be one person speaking to a group, in fact, it is really a series of dialogues as you silently agree or disagree with my words, wander off with your own thoughts, write your own sermon, or use the droning background of white noise as a time to discover what you most need that Sunday. However you have received the sermons, I have enjoyed the ‘conversations’. Thanks for letting me do it.
I remember feeling the call to ministry a long time ago and wondering if I was nuts. It took me some time to believe it was real or even possible. Looking back, I realize that it was one of the best choices I have ever made. I am leaving now, not because I am tired of this work, but because I wish to step back before I get tired of this work. Call it selfish, but I would hate to get to a day when I wondered if it had all been worth it. These days I am imbued with a feeling that it has, and I am satisfied.
Thank you and farewell.
See You In Church, for a few more weeks.