My Committee On Ministry (COM) recently asked me to evaluate how I think things are going in the first 100 days of my ministry here. It was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, reminiscent of analysis the media likes to do of our political leaders. But it did get me thinking. Most ministers take their first year just listening, getting to know people and settling into the position. We haven’t had that luxury due to our current financial situation. Instead, we’ve been hitting the ground running: shaking up worship, renovating, starting taskforces, fundraising, mission building, laying groundwork for years to come. The staff are excited and being creative; the leadership is tackling big decisions; attendance is up in both services. If I had to say anything about the first 100 days it is that it has been quite the ride!
I do think that 100 days is enough time to fall in love. I fall in love every time I see people come to worship, when they share with me their joys and sorrows, when I see them struggle with difficult decisions and listen to one another. I fall in love when people plop themselves on my couch and me “So what can I do to help?” or “How can I help make this ministry successful?” I can’t tell you what that means to me! In these first 100 days I feel supported - like I’m not in this alone.
This congregation is about building something beautiful – a community that takes care of one another and it’s surrounding community. In these first 100 days we have begun to build bonds through creative problem solving, coming together and working it out. That is the power of community. And whatever we face in the future, we will do so together. So lets take each 100 days at a time and slowly but surely, we will face the challenges of our future and meet them head on.
Rock on, my people, rock on!
Covenant Groups are Coming!
Covenant Groups are a form of small group ministry and consist of 8-10 people (members and friends) who gather at least once a month to nurture connections and spiritual growth with one another. There are at least three covenant groups in the church that have been going for a very long time. We won’t be changing anything to those wonderful ministries. Rev. Sian in conjunction with the facilitators, will be offering new covenant groups starting in mid-January with a slightly different format. Keep your eyes on the Blast and Announcements for further information about how to sign up, and when and where the groups will be meeting. If you have any questions please contact Nancy Loughrey or Rev. Sian (ministerocuucorg) .
My thanks to everyone who showed up for our wonderful worship retreat on Saturday! With 16 people showing up and 6 others who want to be involved, it’s shaping up to be a great year for worship. I can’t wait! I’ll say more in the Casual Comments section of our website, but we are going to be making some changes starting in September to parts of Worship, experimenting as needed. Everyone was gracious and patient on Sunday as we began some of them, and I so appreciate it.
Couple of heads up: Starting the second week in September (after Labor Day), we will be going to two services (more on this later) and worship will be adopting a “Theme Based Worship model.”
Together you and I will start putting together big goals and vision for the church! Of course, it never seems fast enough, but we are working on it. It’s going to take everyone’s passion and dedication to this church to reach those goals, but I have no doubt as to our ability to do so. Keep reading the website and the Blast for updates on what will be changing and ways that you can be a part of it
Saturday August 10th
- Creative people who would like to collaborate on developing worship with Rev. Sian and staff
- Public speakers who would like to be lay leader during services
- Detail-oriented folks who would enjoy coordinating all the nuts and bolts that exist behind-the-scenes to make worship run smoothly
- Networkers who would like to connect OCUUC with organizations and members of the community to find guest speakers for worship
- Artists and designers who would enjoy making our worship experience visually meaningful
- Tech gurus who are interested in helping with podcasting and multimedia during worship.
After two years during which it was my honor to serve as your interim minister, my time with you has now come to an end. Much has happened during these last two years. Much is still in bloom. Your future is very bright and your potential is immense.
April 18, 2013
Congratulations on the wildly successful call of OCUUC’s new Settled Minister, Rev. Sian Wiltshire. What a fabulous, joyful, fulfilling, and wonderful conclusion of a long and careful search. Great thanks are due to the excellent and hard working Search Committee. From all my conversations it is obvious that they choose just the right person at this most important juncture in the life of the OCUUC! This is the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship. Life looks good and full of promise and hope for the OCUUC!
Please bring your enthusiasm, excitement, and commitment to the next big event in the life of OCUUC: the annual pledge drive. The Annual Spring Auction and Canvass Dinner will occur this Saturday, April 20th, beginning at 4:30 pm. Please come to this event prepared to submit your annual pledge at the dinner. The life of the church is dependent on your giving. We all want Rev. Wiltshire’s ministry to thrive and that will require the generous support of everyone to help your dreams come alive.
At the service Saturday night, the service Sunday morning, and at the Christmas Eve service we at OCUUC will have the opportunity to write a note to one or more of the families who lost loved ones at the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. There will also be opportunities to make snowflakes. Rev. Ed will be present at all three of these services, and he will be available to answer any questions anyone may have. Others will be present to assist in the process and answer questions. The letters that are written will be sent in the most effective way to get the letters to the families quickly and directly.
- Saturday, December 22nd at 8:00pm
- Sunday, December 23rd at 10:30am
- Monday, December 24th from 6-9pm
Below are the names of those who died:
Additionally, we will be sending a letter of condolence to Mattatuck Unitarian Universalist Society and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury. Everyone will have an opportunity to sign a letter of condolence addressed to the minister, staff and members of each congregation. Both congregations are very close to Newtown and through the close associations of people in their congregations with the school system, students and people of Newtown, they have been deeply affected by last Friday’s tragedy.
I hope for the sake of all of us that gun laws will be enacted to make our society safer.
The following resources may prove useful to grow in our understanding for how to deal with traumatic events:
Sharing Our UU Values: Talking to Children About Violence by Rayna Hamre
December 14, 2012
The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), issued the following statement on Friday, December 14, 2012, in response to the day’s tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut:
“I am shocked and profoundly saddened by the news of the massacre at a school in Newtown, Connecticut. My deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives today. I know of nothing more tragic than a young life cut short by violence. This is a time for embracing one another and helping each other find strength and solace.
“This is just the latest horrific act of gun violence targeting innocent lives. Whether it’s the mall shooting in Oregon or the mass murders in Aurora, Colorado or the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson, Arizona or the Columbine school killings, these instances of violence continue to erupt in America. It is an additional tragedy that today’s killings occurred in an elementary school where our youngest and most vulnerable spend their day. All Americans must reflect humbly and work to change the conditions that allow such violence to take place.
“We must rededicate ourselves to creating a society where differences are resolved without violence, where the mentally unstable do not have ready access to lethal force, where violence is not glorified, and where we can live, love, and work in safe places. Our task as a religious people committed to compassion and to peace is to show a better way.”
The theme for the services for the month of October is “Embracing Diversity.”
In September, I made a request of each member and friend of the congregation that soon after you begin your day, you say three simple phrases – a “UU mantra.” For September our “mantra” revolved around the theme of peace.
A mantra is commonly defined as “a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of creating transformation.” Perhaps we should be more modest in our expectations, but doubtless it could do us all some good. Each month we will use a different mantra that is in harmony with the theme of the month for our services.
October’s “UU mantra” in keeping with the theme for services for October, resolves around “acceptance.”
So my request is that each member and friend of OCUUC will begin the day by saying three simple phrases.
The first is: “May I accept myself.”
The second is “May I accept ________ (my loved ones).” By “loved ones” I mean those persons nearest and dearest to you, a spouse, partner, wife, husband, children, grandchildren, and so on.
The third phrase is “May I accept each person in my congregation.”
By acceptance, I mean not merely passive tolerance, but an ‘active’ acceptance which embraces and affirms ourselves and others in a loving manner.
We will say our “UU mantra” during each religious service as the meditation part of the service.
I will be at DeBenneville this week-end.
As we begin another church year, at this incredibly exciting time of transition for OCUUC, I would like to make a request of each member and friend of the congregation.
My request is that soon after you begin your day on each day you say three simple phrases.
The first is “May I be at peace.”
The second is “May ________ (my loved ones) be at peace.” By “loved ones” I mean those persons nearest and dearest to you, a spouse, partner, wife, husband, children, grandchildren, and so on. We can keep this part simple by mentioning only one person, or expand it to include our circle of family or our circle of family and friends.
The third phrase is “May each person in my congregation be at peace.”
To give an example, when I say this each morning, in its simplest form, I would say:
“May I be at peace. May my wife Alphise be at peace. My each person in my congregation be at peace.”
So, as you can see, this is a very simple request, taking less than a minute. I will call this our “UU mantra for the month.” A mantra is commonly defined as “a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of creating transformation.” Perhaps we should be more modest in our intent, but doubtless it could do us all some good.
We will say our “UU mantra” during each religious service as the meditation part of the service. I will be encouraging you regularly to “don’t forget your mantra.” Each month we will use a different mantra. I hope everyone can participate.
Both the Unitarian and Universalist side of our religious movement have very long and strong traditions of social activism. This month we will honor that aspect of our tradition by dedicating each service in March to the theme of social justice. Each Sunday will be dedicated to exploring a contemporary social justice issue from the perspective of our UU faith and tradition. The individual service topics will be Human Trafficking (March 4), Homelessness (March 10), The Patriot Act Now (March 18) and Immigration Justice (March 25). I am looking forward to this series. This Sunday’s service, about Human Trafficking, is entitled “The War on Human Dignity.” I look forward to seeing you Sunday.
On a separate issue, the Brock family will be visiting Costa Mesa the first week of April. If you would like to offer home hospitality to this unique collection of persons, or know someone who might, let me know.