A famous lyric from the musical Rent — sung by the UUCC Chalice Choir in the Our Time to Thrive Pride service in October — asks, “How do you measure a year in the life?”
As I think over a year in the life of UUCC, it’s tempting to count tangible things — attendance numbers, dollars donated, open rates on electronic communications. I know each of those things is a marker of something meaningful. And I know that none of those things captures what’s at the heart of UUCC’s many ministries.
How do we measure the value of a child feeling seen and loved by their religious educator; the value of the teenager who knows the youth room will provide sanctuary on Sunday afternoon; the value of religious attendance in weekly choir rehearsals, where the harmony is greater than a collection of individual voices; the value of un-rushed one-to-one conversation between a staff member and a newcomer who is learning what it means to be a member of a community; the value of thoughtful attention to accessibility and hospitality needs; the value of a friendly voice on the phone; the value of time in deep, exploratory conversation about what we fear and dream and hope for; the value of attention to detail in choosing imagery for worship and communications; the value of time invested deepening one’s understanding of Unitarian Universalism and one’s own personal development?
These questions are on my mind, because this week your UUCC staff devoted most of a day to participating in a facilitated session with Lenore Bajare-Dukes, our congregation’s primary resource person in the UUA’s Central East Region.
This session was designed to help us tend to the relationships among the six of us, including the tending of some hurt that needs healing care; to identify aspects of our processes and communication patterns that would benefit from adjustment; and ultimately to strengthen our capacity for teamwork. We engaged in this work not only because we care about one another, but also because we care about our work — the work of serving the UU Congregation of Columbia and its mission.
Lenore urged us to share stories with each other — stories about moments of connection and deepening and relationship, stories about hurt and disappointment, stories about what brings us hope.
And I came away from the day wondering how many of you really know how broad and deep is Hannah, Kelli, Michael, Sara, and Valerie’s investment in service of your UUCC mission. You are served by a team of six professional staff members who carry varied portfolios of responsibility for the work of the congregation — everything from the artistry on display on Sunday mornings, to the curation of curricula and materials for children and youth programming, to the coordination of small groups, to the maintenance of communication media, to the teaching of classes, to the recruitment and nurture of volunteers, to the balancing of books and the paying of bills and the processing of payroll and the logistical support of the Board and other committees.
I am so very fortunate not only to be your minister, but to be a member of this particular staff team who challenges me and inspires me and gives so much of themselves to this work.
If UUCC brings meaning to your life, I recommend thanking a staff member (someone other than me!) at your earliest opportunity. And ask them about their work. They have stories to tell!