I ask you to indulge me for a moment as I ponder the end of my 21st year serving this congregation. And no, I am not leaving anytime soon.
21 years is a long time, especially for a Unitarian minister. Many careers aren’t even that long, for this is a field that burns some people out. Most parish ministries average 7 or 8 years. Perhaps conflict grows underground and finally erupts, perhaps ministers and congregations simply grow tired of each other. I can’t really say.
What I can say is that I am proud that we have figured out how to work together amicably for this last two decades and more. There have been many changes in the congregation and the way it goes about its work. I also think there have been many changes in the way I do my work.
I do know that I chose to come here in 1997 because I realized that this was a very mature institution. Not old – mature: wise, sensible, a congregation that knew how to do church. You knew then, and still know now, that the congregation owns a large share of the work. The generation of leaders I have worked with have understood the limits of my knowledge and skill as well as understanding that some of the work of the church was simply not mine to do. You have never asked more of me than I could reasonably deliver. I hope the reverse is also true.
And when things have gone well in my personal life, you have celebrated with me and my family. And when things weren’t going so well, you have been understanding, sympathetic and kind.
So as I wind this year down and head off towards July vacation, I just want to say thank you. I couldn’t have dreamt of working with a better congregation or a better group of people.