|Rolling Through the Changes
by Rev. Jim VanderWeele
Transition times are filled with change.
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