Newsletter: February 2016   
New England Region UUA


Stewardship 202: Relevant Faith-Filled 21st Century Practices

Growing Shared Ministries

Renaissance Module: Curriculum Planning


Ballou Channing District

Northern New England District

Massachusetts Bay District

Clara Barton District

Rev.Marta Valent_n
Turning As One

by Rev. Marta Valentín,
Ministerial Transitions Lead

Right now, for some congregations in our region and around the country life is simply "the business of ministry as usual." As we move deeper into 2016, we are busy doing church in all the ways we know and love, finding newer/bigger/better ways to welcome the stranger among us and bring them into our circle of mindful caring. We are chugging along, accepting the challenges that unfold before us as stepping-stones into a new and unseen part of the journey. We are stretching our hands across aisles and pews to touch each member of the family with a knowing force held by our Unitarian Universalist center of gravity. Life is good in all its guises because at some visceral level we recognize that we are not alone. For all our independence, it is our inter-independence that is our saving grace.


In this spirit of interdependence, as a new member on your New England Region team, I have the honor of ministering to congregational leaders for whom the business of church feels as though it has stopped in its tracks with the impending departure of their minister. I like to call this process acompañamiento - Spanish for "accompanying." I also have the privilege of being a "minister to ministers" as I listen and hold all the reasons a departure is necessary. Endings of any kind are a mixture of glee and grief to varying degrees. Read More...

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And so, under cover in the darkness of winter, search committees are doing their clandestine work, drilling down in search of answers to important questions. The hope is that with clarity, they will find the minister best poised to accompany them into their future. One congregation's ministerial loss can be another's gain. We turn as one but cannot see the whole from our distinct vantage point. 

There are congregations feeling the sting to ears and hearts of the announcement that the path between them and their minister is about to diverge. Though these announcements are inevitable, they are still a surprise. The long and distinguished ministries of the past are a rarity today. Yet the spiritual gifts that live within each acompañamiento is the reality that even when the paths diverge the initial experience that brought minister and congregation together cannot be taken away. Even if the divergence is painful and consequently sought, the lesson contained within (which I will not presume to name) can deepen a sense of ministry for both the minister and the congregation. That, I imagine, is the desire.
In my own transitioning experiences, I have felt the comforting hand of another who was accompanying me, for which I am grateful. Now, that gratitude manifests into the privilege of accompanying the transitioning congregations and ministers. Sometimes it is with great joy, other times with heartbreak, but both are pieces of the circle of life. In a time of many changes, what appears to the untrained eye as a kind of chaos, the trained eye sees as a weaving happening as congregations and ministers receive the resources they need for the next part of the journey.
Some search committees have been deep into the Settlement Handbook that guides them step-by -step. Others, still in the middle of the feelings that arise when an end is near, are beginning to turn the pages of two resources for "the in-between time":
This time is a gift that many have overlooked in the past, viewing the interim as a momentum-crushing placeholder. Yet, used wisely it can be an exciting time of claiming the past, looking inward at strengths and challenges, assessing leadership structures, strengthening connections to our UUA and, using all this new found knowledge, turning (as one!) to look outward for the minister who will collaborate with them on their desired future.
Under cover in the darkness of the wintertime, may all of you who are turning remember you are not alone. Together with my New England Region colleagues, I welcome the chance to accompany you. We can tell you what to pack for the journey. We can remind you amidst the do's and don't to pack a smile and a sense of humor. To trust the process and let it unfold before you. To take deep breaths knowing that each breath brings inspire-ation. But mostly to help us all remember that from "here" to "there," the New England Regional staff's ministry is to accompany you toward a new light and watch you shine. And when that has happened, we know, we have truly turned as one. 

~ ~ ~

Rev. Marta Valentín is the Ministerial Transitions Lead for the New England Region UUA. Contact Rev. Marta to ask questions, ask for support or initiate the process for the search and settlement of a new minister:

Meet Rev. Marta as she leads a workshop on "Real. Good. Embodied. Worship" on March 5 in Greenwich, RI and March 19 in Bedford, MA. Join us!

Our work is made possible by district dues contributions from congregations, associational grants and individual gifts. We offer workshops, trainings and learning opportunities throughout the New England Region for congregational members, lay leaders and religious professionals. Regional staff services and support are available to UU congregations year-round. Like us on Facebook to get regional news, stories and updates in your newsfeed. Follow us on Twitter @NERUUA.