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 TopClara Barton &
Massachusetts Bay Districts
of Unitarian Universalist Congregations

NEWSLETTER: March 2013
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Grant application deadline for CBD Spring 2013 Chalice Lighter program is April 15, 2013. [Details
Upcoming Programs for Congregational Leaders

with Meck Groot: April 6  


O.W.L. Facilitator Trainings (Grades 7 to 12)

April 12 to 14


April 27


Evaluating Congregational Ministries with Rev. Sue Phillips: May 11


Renewing our Commitment to Multicultural Ministry with the GRACE Team: May 18


Orienting New Board Members (CBD) with Doug Zelinski:
June 1


Creating and Leading Dynamic Lay-Led Worship with Rev. Sue Phillips: June 8 


Orienting New Board Members (MBD) with Doug Zelinski:
June 15


Joining With Life's Emergent Possibility 

John Gibb Millspaughby Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh,

Director of Congregational Development


"One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore."
(Arthur Gide)


A new feature of the Districts' website, of interest to ministers and congregational leaders especially, has gotten me thinking about the dynamics of change.  


Some say that the only people who welcome change are babies who need fresh diapers. But my son is now fifteen months old; I've changed his diaper well over a thousand times (not that I'm counting!), and I can tell you this: even when he needs it, rarely does he welcome change. He doesn't cry anymore but he often tries to squirm away from change, and from me as the change-bringer.


Change is hard. Rarely do we greet it with an open heart.


In congregational life we deal with change and transition all the time. People we love are born. Some grow up. Some marry, divorce. Some die. Programs launch, fade away, evolve. Religious professionals announce their resignation, and almost never on our schedule-they have either stayed way too long, or nowhere near long enough!  


Dr. Ron Heifetz, Harvard's expert on "adaptive leadership," points out that what we resist about change isn't change per se. If someone gave you a winning lottery ticket, would you hand it back, as accepting would involve too much change? Nope.

What we resist isn't change, but loss. Loss of the familiar. Loss of what we have loved. Loss of meaning we have found, loss of relationship, loss of the known, in exchange for...what? Some mysterious future. Who would welcome that?    


Only a person of faith, willing to let go of the old in order to join with life's emergent possibility.


Daanan Perry writes in Warriors of the Heart, "I have noticed that, in our culture, the transition zone is looked upon as a 'no-thing,' a no-place between places...a scary, confusing, disorienting nowhere that must be gotten through as fast and as unconsciously as possible...
Full-Time Director of Congregational Development

It is my pleasure to announce that on September 1, 2013, the Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh will become the full-time Director of Congregational Development in the Mass Bay & Clara Barton Districts. 


That will begin his twelfth year of ordained ministry; he has previously served as minister in Mission Viejo, California, and Winchester, Massachusetts. 


If his name rings a bell, it might be because he served as the UUA President's Assistant for Public Witness from 1998-2001; chaired the effort that led the UUA 2011 Statement of Conscience "Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice;" edited the 2009 Skinner House book A People So Bold on theologies and ministries of justice; or helped introduce the "Adaptive Leadership" framework to our movement. He wrote this year's UUSC Justice Sunday materials and is working on a book with Skinner House tentatively titled The Joy of Just Eating: Food for Personal, Public, and Planetary Well-Being.  


John says, "Most likely of all, if anyone recognizes my name it's because they know me as Sarah's husband." Before parish ministry, Sarah Gibb Millspaugh worked for our UUA Youth and Young Adult Office, and her work with Faith Development is remembered for helping to launch Our Whole Lives.


John has proven to be an astute colleague, a thoughtful coach, and a wonderful pastoral presence. I am absolutely delighted that John will join us full time in the fall.

Please join the CBD-MBD staff team in welcoming John to his new role! Emails can be sent to him at jmillspaugh@uua.org.


Rev. Sue Phillips, District Executive

Additional Resources on Change 

Joining With Life's Emergent Possibility (continued from top)

PARTBWhat a wasted opportunity...the transition zone is the only real thing and the [stable zones] are illusions we dream up to avoid the void where the real change, the real growth, occurs for us...The transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places. They should be honored, even savored. Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out of control that can accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives."  


In this view of those who study how humans best deal with change - planned and unplanned, welcome and unwelcome - the goal isn't to set aside our difficult feelings, or, as one college classmate advised me when I lost a beloved teacher, to suck it up and get with the program. The goal is to faithfully welcome all that transitions bring, with open arms. To hospitably welcome feelings like sorrow, surprise, regret, anger, grief, pessimism, optimism, despair, excitement, curiosity, inspiration, and faith. Sometimes, as an individual and as a community, the only way forward is through.


Through denial, which might feel like, "This can't be happening." Through anger, which feels like, "This isn't fair," or "They should have done things differently." Through bargaining: trying to change the present or even change the past (though that book is closed). Through numbness...which doesn't feel like much at all...and onto acceptance, hope, inspiration, commitment to the mysterious future, then back to the tough feelings again. It's a long roller coaster, a generous mess. It is life at its most awake. Often, during transitions, the universe discloses its richest revelations.  


Here in New England, we are blessed by history: we know our ancestors in faith spent centuries in congregations and beyond dealing with similar transitions. Amidst all the change they weathered, they found ways to fan the flame of our liberal faith a little brighter. We are lucky, too, to be in covenant with our co-religionists, who genuinely care about the changes we undergo as individuals and communities, and are committed to seeing us through.  


And we have good companions in the 118 congregations of the Clara Barton and Mass Bay Districts, too. As your Director of Congregational Development, I know that 23% of the congregations in our Districts are experiencing ministerial transition right now! As a service to help connect congregations and ministers, I've put together a new permanent webpage of CBD/MBD congregations in ministerial transition. Twenty-seven of our 118 congregations are in the ministerial version of the transition zone - somewhere between the announced departure of a settled minister and the settlement of their next. And all of our 118 congregations are experiencing many other transitions as well, right now!


All of us in the District offices are here to support you amidst your particular congregational transitions. And your brother and sister congregations are there for you as well. As the new guy, I admit I'm still learning about how congregations turn to one another for support. And I'm interested in discovering, going forward: how might we? I invite you to let me know your thoughts.  


Staying awake to the possibilities transitions bring,




Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh

Acting Director of Congregational Development