This week Kirk Freeman offers a final blogpost, below.
For most of my life, I have wrestled with the “Sunday Night Dreads.” Perhaps you know that feeling of uncertainty and anxiety as the first day of a new school or work week approaches? I love what I do, and my work week rarely starts on a Monday, but I still sometimes have that feeling… just on a Monday or Tuesday night.
This is because transitions and separations are hard. Even when we know how important and healthy they can be. Even when we have done our homework. Even when we have planned and prepared and are excited for the new thing that is about to begin.
Therefore, it is entirely natural for the UUCC community to experience some level of uncertainty and anxiety going into Rev. Paige’s sabbatical, even as you celebrate your commitment to support her and her ministry in this way. This is to be expected… and it is okay!
As others have shared with you over the past few weeks, I will be working closely with Valerie, the Karuna Ministry team, and the Board of Trustees to address pastoral concerns and pastoral care needs as they arise during Paige’s sabbatical. So, it seems I should introduce myself and share a little bit about how I can support you!
To begin with: I use he/him pronouns, and you are welcome to address me by my first name, “Kirk.” I love music, laughter, deep conversations, and getting into “good trouble.” I have been a Unitarian Universalist for over twenty years, and I have been a member of All Souls Church, Unitarian, in Washington, DC, for most of that time. I live just a few blocks from All Souls with my spouse, who is passionate about her work as a postpartum doula and OWL-trained comprehensive sexuality educator, our two elementary school children, and our two cats.
In a prior career, I worked for fifteen years in politics, first as a congressional aide and then as a lobbyist. I left that career in 2018 to finally answer the call to ministry that I have felt at various points throughout my life. I completed a two year ministerial internship at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville and during that time I learned that I love — and want to serve in — congregational ministry.
I am happy to share that I am at another important inflection point in that journey. Over the course of the next five weeks, I will be both finishing a chaplaincy internship at the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health and graduating from Wesley Theological Seminary. After that I will be planning my ordination and discerning where my ministry will lead me next.
I am so honored that Paige and Valerie asked me to offer pastoral care support during Paige’s sabbatical. I believe pastoral and community care is the beating heart of congregational life — and that is the work of the entire congregation. Our tradition invites us to celebrate the “priesthood” and “prophethood” of all UUs, and I believe it calls us all into the work of “pastorhood” as well.
Ministerial sabbaticals offer congregations an opportunity to strengthen their practices of lay leadership and shared ministry, and UUCC’s leadership has laid the groundwork for your congregation to lean into this opportunity. That is why the Karuna Ministry will be your primary contact for pastoral care support and they will connect you with me as needed. You can always reach the Karuna Ministry via email at Karuna@uucolumbia.net! A small group monitors that email and will get back to you promptly.
I look forward to meeting you over the coming months, and it will be my honor to accompany you as you celebrate your joys, move through your sorrows, explore your challenges, and ask the big, important, questions.