Greetings from New Orleans. This week is the Unitarian Universalist Association’s annual General Assembly, being held this year in New Orleans. I’ve been at the Ministers’ Meeting since Monday and there have also been national gatherings for Religious Educators and for Administrators.
The big news is, of course, Tropical Storm Cindy, which has made New Orleans look a bit like Norfolk… lots of wet roads, flooding, etc. This year is special for me because I will be recognized along with all the ministers who have been given “Final Fellowship” — full membership in the UU Ministers Association. We will be recognized along with those who have finished their training and now have “Preliminary Fellowship” and begun their ministries, and also those who are retiring, and ministers who have died in the past year.
Religious Educators have a similar recognition called “Credentialing” and they will be recognized, too. I am writing this on Wednesday morning, and it is still uncertain how many UUs will have flights canceled, or be otherwise unable to attend, but predictions were for about 3,000 UUs to gather at the convention center.
Before I was in Preliminary Fellowship I was an intern here in New Orleans, and one of my supervisors was Rev. Jim Vanderweele, minister of Community Church. He has served them since before Katrina, and has been a local champion of environmental justice and human rights. Rev. Jim has supervised the relocation and growth of the congregation as well as the rebuilding of the city (after he, along with hundreds of thousands lost everything in the Federal Flood). As he said in the Tuesday Vespers Service, people in New Orleans don’t celebrate because there is no sorrow — they celebrate because they are alive. In July, he will leave ministry here in New Orleans to take a new job in Washington State. Coincidentally, it’s the congregation where Rev. Marian Stewart (who visited me back in February) has been minister for eight years. She is moving to Columbus, Ohio.
I attended a workshop on Ministers and Grief this week. How ministers absorb grief and how congregations can be helpful to ministers experiencing personal grief. Wise church leaders, and ministers of nearby congregations, stay in touch with ministers who have experienced personal loss, and also give them time and space to grieve.
General Assembly continues to Sunday afternoon, and there is still time to watch the worship services live via the internet. http://www.uua.org/ga You can also find recorded services and information on workshops there.
Thanks to Paul Moss and Steve Daniel for their reflections on Fathers and Spirituality, and to Mark Berger for his solo “Cat’s In the Cradle,” as well as Matt Griset and the Choir. Our summer services series begins with Howard Adams this Sunday. Come enjoy summer at UCN/Coastal Virginia Unitarian Universalists. Dress appropriately!
I love you,