When a church enters a time of transition there are undercurrents of modification and adjustment at play. The source of many of these subsurface inclinations may not be known, or perceived, or understood by many church members but it is often the case that a series of changes suddenly spring to the surface as a church moves from one minister to the next. One of the ways that I view these changes is that they represent a flowering of the inner life of the church community; it is as if what was always there is suddenly freed to reach out and find a new life.
While it is true that all churches should provide an opportunity for such a flowering of its innermost potentiality, many do not. Many congregations are held back by a backward view; some lift up the mantra of “what once was.” Other congregations squabble with their innermost disagreements; bones of contention seem to bring out their canine proclivities. And some congregations rest on their laurels; so pleased with what they are doing, they see no reason to take on more.
There is, of course, a need for balance in the life of a church. Balance is good. And nobody should be doing more than they can. Yet, there is also a need for a spirit of “we can do” that runs through the religious community, and it is often the case that times of transition are times when a few of the old molds are broken (hallelujah!) and the goodness within springs out onto new avenues of expression.
But how, one might ask, after a tremendous OWL program last spring, building a Tiny House this summer, opening the church as a homeless sanctuary, extending the use of our facility to an ever-wider interfaith community, searching for a new music director and a new full-time minister, in addition to a host of regularly scheduled activities—how can a church find assurance that its intriguing transitional spirit will live on? Can steps be taken to continue an exciting, vibrant church life? If so, who do we have who is willing to step forward to help this church do the best that it can do?
An answer to these challenges might be found in the recently announced Pacific Western Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association Leadership Experience 2019. Please note that the application deadline approaches, and that there are now two opportunities for people to attend (and to do so on a full scholarship). The President of your Board has attended a previous leadership program with the help of a donor, and is willing to pay it forward by subsidizing the registration and partial travel costs (total $500 each) for one person. Another concerned NUUC supporter also places a high value on leadership training and is willing to underwrite the cost for one more individual to participate in this program.
What a joy it would be if several Northlakers would be able to go, or for others to step forward to support those who are interested in gaining greater “knowledge and skills regarding mission-focused leadership, systems thinking, change management, anti-oppression and multicultural transformation, and conflict transformation as well as other topics.”
If you are interested in pursuing an upcoming leadership role in the ongoing life of Northlake, please look at www.uua.org/pwr to learn more about “Leadership Experience 2019,” a hybrid in-person/on-line leadership development program that will take place this coming winter and spring. We’d like to send a team, and space is limited. We’d like to finalize who is going by noon on Sunday, October 7, so we can award scholarships and sign up the whole team that afternoon.
Please consider whether you are ready, willing, and able to learn more about leadership in Unitarian Universalist congregations.
Rev. Jim VanderWeele
Gratitude, mountains of gratitude, to Northlake’s members and friends for opening our sanctuary as a place of rest and sleep for homeless women and their families. We received many words of thanks from Catholic Community Services of King County, and their employees, and those who are homeless, as well as non-members and passersby who expressed their appreciation that you took the step you did. Yes, there were a few minor snafus along the way, but some complications were expected at the start, and in the end it was a pleasure to offer this house of worship as a place for sanctuary during these past three weeks. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for this and for all you do.
~ Rev. Jim VanderWeele
From the Music Director Search Team
by Janelle Durham
I wanted to let everyone know that this week we are doing interviews for the music director position.
We have four very strong applicants, all with many years of experience not just in music performance and study, but specifically in church music leadership positions.
We’re excited about our options, and hope to get a new music director in place soon.
Thanks to all who supported the funding for this position!
October’s Soul Matters Theme: Sanctuary
by Margaret Rogers
What Does It Mean To Be A People of Sanctuary? Just saying the word “sanctuary” brings one a sense of peace and safety. It can bring back conflicted memories for some, but for most of us the idea of sanctuary conjures up feelings of being protected. Like its close cousin refuge, it speaks to the universal longing for a space to retreat from the dangers and depletions of the world. One thinks of the family ties and friendships that protect, restore and heal us. The sanctuary movement and its refuge for immigrants is another powerful example of offering life-giving safe space. As the well-loved Irish proverb puts it, “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”
So, certainly, the hunger for protection and the call to protect each other is central to this month. But as we dig deeper, we are reminded that the sanctuaries in our lives do more than simply protect us; they also strengthen us for the new journeys ahead. And, as we journey forward, we also discover that our sanctuaries need sheltering and protection themselves. It’s a paradox: our sanctuaries can’t protect and repair us unless we also protect and repair them. The green sanctuary movement is a great example of this. The solace of nature and the life-giving interdependent web needs us as much as we need them. The same is true for the sanctuaries in our personal lives. Friendship, silence, stillness: these are all things that wither if we don’t tend to and make space for them. So, in the end, maybe the most important question this month is “How are we caring for our sanctuaries so they can take care of us?”
As we embark on this month of contemplating Sanctuary, I wanted to offer a few additional resources.
As you know, we have a Resource Packet for Small Groups, available both in print form in the back of our sanctuary and online.
There is also a page on UUA.org that is recommended for families (and everyone, really) with UU prayers and meditations that you might wish to incorporate into your intentional time this month.
This may also be a good time for creating a small moment of sanctuary into the daily life of your family, at breakfast or dinner — to light a chalice and say these words together:
May the light of this chalice give
light and warmth to our family,
On good days and bad, happy and sad,
And may we feel the warmth spread from our family circle
to wider and wider circles,
Until we feel our family part of the one circle of life.
— Betsy Darr
We hope that you will have the opportunity to engage the theme of Sanctuary this month – on Sunday as a community, in a Small Group (let me know if you’d like to sign up for a group that meets monthly for the year!), and in your daily lives, individually and as a family.
“Will the new minister hear me? Will my concerns and needs be met? Will the minister understand what I’m living with? How will the community respond to our minister?”
In answering these questions, a picture of the “ideal minister” (categorized by age, gender, gender identity, nationality, physical ability, race, and sexual orientation) comes to mind. With this picture in place, it can be easy to unintentionally exclude ministers who fall into certain categories. At times, as we get caught up in comparing candidates to our “picture,” we can even forget what it is we hoped for in a minister.
On the weekend of November 4th, Northlake will participate in the Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop offered by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) for congregations involved in the search for a new minister. The Northlake Search Committee invites all congregational leaders, members, and friends to participate in this workshop.
The Beyond Categorical Thinking program is designed to promote inclusive thinking and help prevent unfair discrimination in the search process for a new minister. This program includes a Sunday morning service followed by a three-hour BCT workshop with facilitators trained by the UUA. In the workshop, Northlake members will:
* Consider the hopes, expectations, and concerns they have for a new minister
* Learn more about the ministerial search process, and
* Explore how thinking categorically about people sometimes interferes with choosing the best candidate.
Come on Sunday, November 4th immediately following service to participate in this UUA-sponsored workshop, led by Eddy Carroll.
The selection of a minister is important. The Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop is another opportunity for everyone in our congregation to be a part of that process. This experience will provide guidance for the search committee in our work. Childcare will be available. Please let Margaret know if you need children so the appropriate number of childcare providers is available. The new childcare RSVP email firstname.lastname@example.org.