SCARPE DIEM. That's my attempt at a bad pun - "scarpe", Italian for shoes - following in the footsteps, etc. No? well I said it was bad, didn't I?
Nonetheless I will attempt, as your new President starting July 1st, to carry on after Tom Loughrey - no small task as you all know and can appreciate. He is truly a pillar of this community and will still be here for each of us who will need his help and counsel (sorry, Tom, you did realize we'd still lean on you, right?).
So who is this new guy, Don Martin? Well, I've been a Unitarian since about 1970 and became one after joining this church back long before it left Victoria Street. I was basically disgusted with pretty much anything religious and couldn't imagine that I would ever again want to join a "church," in fact that word in our organization's name was a sticking point for me. I had to tell all my associates and friends that I had made this big decision and why it was OK that it was a "church." They were as surprised as I that I would do such a thing.
But, of course, I didn't join to be part of a standard religious organization but to be part of a community of open-minded, caring, intelligent, forward-looking people who each brought their own vision of what religion could look like and how people could get along. I was thrilled to be there and as my life changed (divorce, marriage to Sandra, career changes) I always had a caring group of people to talk to and counsel me on what options were available. I marveled at what good fortune had brought me there.
Sandra and I were married by Eileen Karpeles, the OCUUC minister at the time, and melded our families into one semi-cohesive tribe. My career took me to Santa Barbara County a year later and, after nearly another year of my weekly commuting from Huntington Beach to Vandenberg Air Force Base, we moved north, leaving behind my grown children who couldn't imagine living anywhere but OC.
In Santa Barbara (chosen because it was the closest city with a Unitarian church to my work and to my OC offspring) we, of course, joined the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara and I sang in the choir and Sandra was on the Board among many other jobs and joys. We moved on to the new Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Goleta when it started up and we were involved in almost every aspect of the church including Sandie becoming the Administrator and I the President. We stayed until Sandra's grandchildren and my retirement brought us back here.
We knew we would be rejoining OCUUC and are now fully integrated - I'm just coming from a year term as VP Finance and Sandie has been chairing the Membership Committee. We are glad you were still here in this new place - we’re grateful for all those whose contributions have allowed this community to still exist for us. Let’s keep this church flourishing for the next year, decade, even century! Others will need us to be here - OC needs us.
May this house be truly a place of Meeting--meeting one with another in warmth and joy and openness meeting one with another in courage and love and trust
-Eileen B. Karpeles
Don Martin, OCUUC President