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Topic “Minister's Message”

Farewell & Good Luck, Dear Rev. David

From the Minister:

Dear Members and Friends of Beverly Unitarian Church,
With excitement for the future and sorrow at the transition, I write to share that I have been invited to be the candidate for Lead Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, Colorado.
This summer, I will step down as minister of Beverly Unitarian, and move out west. Teri will start a new chapter in her professional life and will pursue another degree and licensure so she can practice counseling in clinical settings in additional to congregational contexts.
I am so grateful for the four years we have spent together. You have shaped my understanding of what is possible in liberal religious community, and of what ministry is.
In our time together, I am so deeply proud of the work you have done as a congregation. You considered and committed to restoring Chicago’s only castle while keeping the firm, healthy conviction that the church is not just the building. You carried out the largest capital campaign in the history of the congregation, bigger even than purchasing the building 70 years ago. You’ve welcomed new members not just as names in the book, but into full belonging and participation and ownership of the church community. And you have moved through the last 15 months of pandemic with grace and hope and solidarity as a community. I have watched you do incredible, improbable, remarkable things as a community.
And in our time together there are also things not done: initiatives and possibilities we won’t get to do together. In any transition, there may be loss from what happened and from what never will be. But more important than any initiative or project is the connection and partnership with so many of you, the people of Beverly Unitarian Church. Thank you; I will miss you.
Even without this transition in minister, you’re beginning a new chapter in the life of the congregation. Repairs and preservation work on the building is finished. You’ll return, safely and deliberately, to in-person church in the months ahead. As they did in hiring me, the Board will appoint a thoughtful committee to seek out a new minister. Julia and I are in conversation with the Ministerial Fellowship Credentialing Committee and are hopeful that she will be able to complete her internship by serving at BUC again next year.
In our governance as Unitarian Universalists, and code of ethics for ministers, a departing minister makes space for the incoming minister. This summer I’ll step away from the life of the congregation—physically and virtually, and on social media. This separation lasts through the interim period and at least into a newly settled minister’s tenure: contact with the congregation or congregants would only be at the invitation of the current minister. This may be hard, but I ask you not to reach out, since I would have to decline any requests. I will miss you, but it is by stepping back that I can make room for you and your new minister to thrive together.
You have flourished by being the best of who you are. You have flourished by following your mission to grow your spirits and help heal the world—gathered in community and grounded at 103rd and Longwood. As sad as I am to leave, I am deeply and profoundly hopeful for the future of this congregation. I will always be rooting for your health and flourishing.

In hope,
Rev. David

Minister's Take on "Clutch Power"

This is Rev. David's column in our May Contact newsletter.

From the Minister: Building and Rebuilding

In third grade, my mother told me: “you have to stop building according to the directions that come in the Lego package and make new things.” A few years ago, taking that advice, I gathered every gray brick among the collection I’d kept all these years and built a Lego replica of the First Unitarian Church in Hyde Park.

Don’t let the finished photos fool you. Like our collective work in the real church, I spent as much time tearing down and rebuilding as I did building.

Ten hours in I realized I had made the sanctuary two bricks too narrow: I tore the pillars to the ground and rebuilt. After finishing the flat walls between arches on the sides of the sanctuary I realized the walls were off-white, not gray: I tore them down and rebuilt. I spent eight hours on three versions of the grand piano before getting the scale right and a lid that opened. Adding the library required tearing out the adjacent wall of the sanctuary: to be strong the wall had to be a continuous whole, not two unconnected walls standing parallel.

Through quiet nights in the spring and summer I built and rebuilt. I patiently removed my cat Milton whose favorite place to stand was exactly in the middle of the sanctuary. I built and rebuilt and petted Milton and built and rebuilt.

Early in the process, I knew it might not come out looking good. But I wasn’t anxious about it: the work and the joy (and the frustration) was in the building and rebuilding. Maybe it would come out and maybe it wouldn't -- but I could imagine it and I could work for it, and the pleasure was in the process.

It’s the same for the brick and mortar church. Of course, literally, this is what the Castle restoration was about: remaking spaces to keep the physical building serving the future of the church that gathers inside it.

But the reality of the continual rebuilding goes beyond the bricks. Committees form and do their work, and dissolve and get rebuilt into something else entirely. Leaders formal and informal contribute to the continual rebuilding.

Sometimes, you build the invisible infrastructure of the church which makes it mysteriously sturdy: direct and kind communication, making amends, stepping up to service, respectful disagreement. Sometimes a committee grows, shifts, or changes direction. Sometimes you take a program apart, back into bricks, and build something new with it.

The technical term for the stickiness of two Lego bricks as they grip each other is “clutch power.” No build holds together without clutch power. The whole is only as strong as the clutch power of any two bricks linked together. The sturdiness of the tallest structure is determined only by the relationship of any two bricks next to each other. The same is true for our congregation: the glue that cements us is our connections to each other.

In this present moment and the months ahead, we need clutch power! May the strength of those connections give us the confidence to build and rebuild our community as we go into our shared and unknowable future, together.

In hope,

Rev. David

"Ask for help when you need it; offer help when you can."

To help us through lonely days during these times of Covid, Rev. David's Contact column offers hope.  You can read the poem To the New Year that begins his article by clicking on the Contact link on the left of this page.

"The days are getting longer, but it’s deceptive: they’re getting longer by what feels like microscopic increments. The cold and the snow and the long slog ahead to spring may to suggest despair as a viable option. The wisdom for a moment like this is deceptively simple: Ask for help when you need it; offer help when you can.
I’m a practical person, and there’s some part of me that feels asking for help is a burden or an imposition – or, even worse, that I need to know just exactly what my problem is and just what the solution is before I reach out. Maybe this is your experience too: you feel crummy inside, and so you decide to wait until you stop feeling crummy before reaching out. But when the struggle is with isolation – whether in your head or in your house – it’s ok to just reach out. In fact, that is itself part of the solution.
Call a friend with a cat and ask them how their cat is doing. Email a friend and tell them the least funny joke you know. (Mine: why do you never see elephants in trees? Because they’re so good at hiding.) Call someone from church you don’t know too well and tell them Rev. David said to ask for their favorite cookie recipe because it is now, apparently, a religious obligation to eat cookies. You’ll get connection and cookies out of it: a win-win.
As much as the new year brings a new beginning it can be a difficult time. You don’t have to do it alone. We’re a community of care, and support, and bad jokes, and cookie recipes, and compassion. Ahead comes the walk toward spring, toward vaccination, toward hugs and handshakes and singing together again. We’ll get there, together: our hopes, such as they are, invisible before us, untouched and still possible.
In hope,
Rev. David"

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Buddhist Meditation

Reverend Marcia Curtis is temporarily canceling the Sunday evening meditation until further notice. For more information please click redlotussangha.org.
We hope to resume the meditation and dharma talks in the next few weeks.

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