When I was a younger adult and facing a personal crisis—questioning my faith, exploring aspects of my identity, unsure about my vocational direction—I knew I needed support from someone I could trust but who wasn’t a friend or family member. (Instinctively I knew that those intimate relations were “too close” to help me gain the perspective I needed.)
I wasn’t yet a Unitarian Universalist myself, but I was acquainted with the local UU minister, so I called her and said, “I need someone to talk to.” Our conversation that day clarified at least two things: (1) I would benefit from a dedicated relationship with a psychotherapist as I wrestled with all these things; and (2) Trusting my instinct to call the minister was a good choice. She couldn’t sustain a counseling relationship with me, but she brought validation of my experience, reassurance, lack of judgment, and guidance toward sustainable resources.
In my years as a parish minister at UUCC and in two other congregations, some of the most precious moments have transpired in interactions like that one I had all those years ago—when you call seeking personal support in a moment of crisis; when you’re wrestling with a relational challenge and need perspective from someone outside the relational system; when you’re confronting internal bugaboos, facing addiction and recovery, building courage to make a difficult change.
And I know—because you’ve told me—that sometimes you worry about intruding on my “busy” schedule, or that it doesn’t always occur to you that I might be available to offer this kind of support, or that you’re not really even sure what you need to talk about (after all, doesn’t there need to be an agenda?).
So, I’m reminding you that I’m here, and I will make time. (Maybe it’ll take a few days or a week, but I’ll make time.) You have other UUCC resources, too—the dedicated Karuna Team of volunteer caregivers; your congregational friends; members of your Reflection Groups and other communities within the larger UUCC community.
But sometimes the Minister is who you need. And if you want to talk with me, please ask. Send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or pick up the phone (410-381-0097, x101), and let’s connect. Maybe we’ll talk for five minutes, maybe we’ll schedule a Zoom visit, maybe we’ll arrange to walk around a Columbia lake. And maybe one conversation won’t meet your needs; maybe we’ll need to check in again; maybe you could use a referral to additional resources. I have those, too.
For now, I offer an abbreviated version of an old newsletter column that has made the rounds among UU congregations and probably others, too:
Call (or email!) the Minister when…
- you just want to talk.
- you or your children have questions of faith, religion, and/or spirituality.
- you are celebrating one of life’s joys and want to share the good news.
- you or your child are feeing sad, or lonely, or lost.
- you have lost your job, found a new job, been promoted or demoted.
- you or a family member is ill or hospitalized.
- you’re dealing with a significant loss of some kind.
- you would like to make plans for a family member’s memorial service.
- you would like to make plans for your memorial service.
- you are planning to be married.
- you are challenged by the demands of marriage.
- you are separated or planning to get a divorce.
- you are pregnant and glad you are … or wish you weren’t.
- you are feeling bereft at not being pregnant.
- you would like your child to be dedicated into the UUCC religious community.
- … and even when you just want to talk, even if you’re not sure why.
I love being your pastor, and it’s an honor to share in your moments of personal joy, loss, sorrow, struggle, and celebration. Call me, maybe. I’ll be glad when you do.