In 2014 I was told by the search committee that what RVUUF was looking for in a minister was to help you move from an “I” church to a “We” church and to help you practice right relations and compassionate communication.
Your willingness and commitment to RVUUF has resulted in more than 50 people participating in Rev. Cat Cox classes on collaborative-covenant based communication that has impacted the entire congregation in ways that promote empathy, compassion and a process whereby people now know better who to go to when conflict arises.
I am hopeful when I leave RVUUF there are structures and processes and people in place that will continue to evoke compassion instead of conflict when disagreement is present.
Last February when Keith Kron, the UUA Transitions Director, arrived to meet with the Board, CFM and Search Committee to give guidance regarding ministerial leadership, he was impressed with how different RVUUF’s leadership is manifested through the laughter we shared in that meeting and when I told him you had started a pilot project for homeless car camping in our Emerson House parking spaces he was especially impressed.
Two positive signs that RVUUF has shifted toward health in the congregation and where looking outside of yourselves has become more important to you while you continue to work on your relationships within these walls.
The Souls Matters circles, though fewer in number of circles this year, continues to be a successful program to empower your connections to each other, offering a time to go deeper into your own psycho-spiritual understandings of yourself and each other.
There are plans in the making to offer next year a “Building Your Own Theology” class that will also offer you an opportunity to go deeper. If I were here another year I would want to lead you to take steps to go deeper, personally and collectively. Deeper in ways that connect you to yourself and to each other that includes your vulnerabilities and strengths that you may not be seeing at this time. Also I’d want to lead you into a deeper connection to what calls you, what speaks to you that you feel you must do together, as you discover what injustice is needing RVUUF’s help and commitment.
Other positive signs are how the multigenerational culture has grown leaps and bounds compared to 2014. From honoring Cub Scouts to dedicating nine children the first year and eight just last week to the creation of board game night and a holiday craft event and the relationship building that happens at Camp Latgawa every summer. Explicitly seen is when the children led a worship service and join us at social time and it’s like being part of a very large family with everyone engaging each other making those important connections with every age.
Additionally, the positive sign of less drama when someone gets upset about something, you’ve changed your reactivity to thoughtful responses that promote the idea that relationships with each other are always more important than whatever the disagreement is about.
Staying connected when in the midst of disagreement is key to a congregation who wants to do more than work on relationships within these walls. It is your connections to each other that ensures you move from the “I” church to the “We” and when you understand and see yourselves as a “We” you will have far greater impact in justice seeking ways as UU’s in the Rogue Valley.
As you know I plan to get involved with Rev. Dr. William Barber who started the Moral Monday movement and the Poor Peoples campaign in North Carolina. I read a great quote from him recently that not only pertains to NC and this nation but it also speaks to how I have all along understood the word “We” while at RVUUF.
“‘We’ is the most important word in the social justice vocabulary. The issue is not what we can’t do, but what we CAN do when we stand together. With an upsurge in racism/hate crimes, criminalization of young black males, insensitivity to the poor, educational genocide, and the moral/economic cost of a war, we must STAND together now like never before.”
The “We” of RVUUF is about standing together as you move forward on your path toward greater Beloved Community so that when you face the issues of the day in the Rogue Valley you will be stronger together. You have a lot to offer the world and offering it as a “We” can be transformative and bring about justice in ways that are deeply meaningful to everyone.
Continue to stand together, embracing diversity, empowering connection, and engaging in the work. My blessings and prayers go with you. It’s been a great privilege and honor for me to serve you as Developmental Minister. May peace prevail here at RVUUF.
Rev. Nan L. White
RVUUF Developmental Minister, 2014 to 2017