I’ve had the great fortune to be part of clergy groups for all these 20+ years of professional ministry. In that time, I’ve heard countless stories from colleagues who bemoan the challenges of working with staff members who are unwilling to learn, inflexible with changing dynamics, perpetually unhappy, under-invested in the congregation’s mission, and even—in rare instances—downright unethical.
Every time I hear such stories and outwardly (and sincerely!) sympathize, I also internally breathe a sigh of relief and speak a word of gratitude for the staff of UUCC. The seven (plus me) individuals in your employ are stellar examples of dedication, passion, talent, investment, and agility. And you benefit from their devotion, their skills, their imaginations, and their steadfast commitment to their work.
This past year has posed unique challenges for us as a staff group—not only from the pandemic, which has introduced multiple obstacles, just as it has in your work and family lives; but also because we had so much staff turnover (planned and unplanned) in the midst of a congregational conflict.
So, for two-and-a-half days (Tuesday evening and going through Thursday), we will be in a (virtual) retreat together, facilitated by two leaders from the Central East Region of the UUA. This is a time for us to (re-)acquaint ourselves with each other, strengthen our bonds as a team, and set our sights on the work ahead. I am looking forward to this time of re-connection with a group of people that I deeply admire and trust.
And I want to tell you all sorts of wonderful things that you may not know about each of them. But that task is impractical and probably impossible. So, instead, here’s one thing I love about working with each of these incredible people (listed in order of their tenure on UUCC staff):
Michael Adcock (Director of Music) has served this congregation for more than half its life—he knows its personalities and its quirks, and he helps the rest of us not to forget. (And, on a very personal note … in my 17 years here, he and I have “grown up” together in many ways!)
Kelli Danaker (Religious Education Assistant) always, always, puts children first, reminding us that our ministries must serve all our congregants.
Robin Slaw (Director of Religious Education), consistently brings ideas to remind us that there are different ways to do things than we might currently be considering.
Hannah Nelson (Office Assistant) approaches her clerical job with the heart of a caregiver, because she understands that every administrative task is part of the congregation’s ministry.
Valerie Hsu (Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries), as the newest-to-UU member of staff, asks incisive, helpful questions to remind us who we are, and who we wish to be.
Sean Griffin (Executive Director) is imminently kind and generous, but is no-nonsense when it’s time to get to business.
Sara Davidson (Director of Communications & Member Integration) adds beauty and heart to everything she touches.
There is not one person on this staff who has ever indicated to me that they view their UUCC work as “just” a job. Rather, every one of us understands our job as an investment in the valuable work of this congregation whose mission truly matters in the lives of its members, in the community, and in the world.
Thank you, UUCC, for being a congregation we are honored to serve—and, this week, for supporting our work-away-from-work.
With love and appreciation,