From the 8/28/16 Question Box service
Can Anthony tell us his future plans?
Can we keep Anthony after his internship?
My master plan (my end statement)? To be an active duty military chaplain.
This was and still very much is my clarion call to ministry, in the long term. My mission and my vision. My soul’s marching orders in this life.
My working plan (the means to that end)? Seminary. Internship. Fellowship (a passing score from the UUA’s Ministerial Fellowship Committee). Graduation. Ordination. Va-cation. Two to three years of full-time parish ministry after graduation (required by the UUA for active duty). And then, finally – Vocation.
I’d planned to cross the finish line of my UUCC internship in August 2017; I was then planning to seek out an opening for an interim, assistant, or associate minister position elsewhere to fulfill my 2-3 year parish requirement.
And then… life happened.
…Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans…
Sands shifted (as they always do).
Kären shared with us that she would be stepping into some new possibilities and avenues in her own call to ministry – and consequently stepping away from the UUCC assistant minister position at the end of June 2017. It was bittersweet. I was so very happy for her and all she would surely gain – and sad for what the congregation and staff would lose. The J.R.R. Tolkien verse – ‘All that is gold does not glitter…Not all those who wander are lost…’ -For me, this is Kären.
She shines, for sure – but doesn’t go out of her way to draw attention to herself. She doesn’t brag or boast (although she certainly could). What she does do is serve – quietly, faithfully, loyally, and humbly. I never would have guessed that she spent so much of her 20 year Navy career in command positions, because she supports with such grace. Her heart for service is evident in the glass of water she unassumingly places in the pulpit for Paige and/or I every Sunday. In the way she touches hearts in worship. In the masterful balancing of the ever-spinning plates of UUCC’s programs and pastoral care endeavors. Kären is a natural gatherer of souls, nurturer of hearts, and creator of community – and wherever she wanders next will be enriched exponentially by her energy.
Some time after Kären’s announcement, Paige and I had one of our weekly one-to-one meetings. We shared our shock and grief – and our mutual feeling that Kären would be missed mightily. We discussed Paige’s vision for the congregation in the next few years, and my vision for the next few years of my life. Out of that conversation (and a handful of others) emerged the possibility of a happy intersection between the two. Concentric circles that might serve the highest good of all involved – perhaps, most of all, this congregation.
I could potentially fulfill my 2-3 year full-time parish requirement right here at UUCC in the assistant minister vacancy-to-be. With the completion of the new sanctuary, we could set about expanding the congregation both inwardly (size, diversity, etc) and outwardly (multi-cultural outreach initiatives/partnerships with surrounding communities). As a minister of color (and of relative youth), I’d be in a unique position help design and facilitate much of this work, help to grow the church (and the faith), continue to help diversify worship arts programming, and help augment some of UUCC’s anti-racism and anti-oppression work, already in progress.
I would not seek to fill Kären’s shoes (that would be impossible), or do the work of assistant minister in exactly the same way. I would seek to honor my gifts in the same way she did – to serve the congregation and Paige to the best of my ability (and with the full scope of my abilities). I plan to continue soaking up all the wisdom and experience I can from Kären before she bids us adieu. And I can only hope to have some measure of the impact she has had in her time with us.
In truth, there is no other congregation with which I’d rather spend these post-degree years. I’m not sure there is a parish in existence that I fit (or that fits me) as snugly as UUCC. It’s not for lack of other opportunities or prospects – I was certainly in the process of making other plans. And then – life happened. I look forward to all the life that could happen here in the next few years – and to blooming right where I’m planted.
Happy New Year,