From Your Minister

Rev. Diana Smith

Dear Ones,

I’m writing this as I’ve just finished attending our annual UU ministers’ professional gathering of Ministry Days and as our national General Assembly of congregations is just beginning. Last night our congregation’s Board of Trustees invited staff to join the board meeting to work on developing our 2024-25 vision of ministry. And so, I’m writing this to you from a place of wondering, from a place of liminality, from a place of creative emergence where we – we who lead this congregation, we who are ministers in Iowa and Nebraska, we who are professional and lay leaders from around and beyond this country – are working to find the meaning, the shape, the story of this past year and are working to discern what our congregations and wider communities will need in the coming year.

I find sitting with questions particularly powerful in moments like this. Questions that are bubbling up for me right now include:

  • How can we create conditions that help our congregations and communities remember the hope?
  • What is our key work this coming year for nourishing resilience in the face of what is happening in our state and nationally, in response to what is happening in individual lives, and mindful of where our community is?
  • How is our past and how we have coped with the past affecting our responses today?
  • In what ways will we work to create stronger networks of solidarity and dismantle silos?
  • How are we calling ourselves and each other ever more into the work of Love, through how we support each other and how we deepen our anti-racism/anti-oppression work?
  • How can our congregations be some of the hope we need?
  • What work do we need to do in our congregation to help it be a beacon of Love and justice even more?

These are big questions, but I love sitting with them – particularly when I get to work with other folks like our Board of Trustees, staff, and other lay leaders on discerning what they mean to us and how we’ll respond. This is part of the joy of ministry. And it’s part of the joy of summer. Due to the patterns of congregational life, this is one of the big times I get to help us sit with questions like these and work with leaders to turn our responses into a vision of ministry and program planning.

I’m excited for the coming weeks when this visioning and planning work will take clearer shape, we will have a vision of ministry to share with the wider congregation, and more team and committee leads will join in program planning and calendaring. This is such a generative moment!

To help with that, my schedule will be a bit different for the next two months. I will be away from UUS for several weeks this summer. Following General Assembly, I’m taking some study leave from June 24 – July 7. I will also be taking a week of study leave from July 16 – 23. During study leave I get to study, reflect, plan, and prepare for the coming year. To support that, I do not read or respond to email while I’m on study leave. I will be reachable on my cell phone for pastoral emergencies. You can also reach out to the Pastoral Care Associates by calling Virginia Melroy or emailing pastoralcare@uusic.org. Please reach out to the appropriate staff person for other needs.

Then I’ll be on vacation from July 29 – August 11 for a long-anticipated camping trip in Yellowstone National Park. When I’m on vacation, staff and the Pastoral Care Team will be responding to urgent needs. The Board of Trustees and staff will be able to reach me if there is an emergency that requires my attention (with some limitations due to being in the wilderness).

This summer, as we engage with big questions, whether they’re similar to the ones I posed above or ones generated from each of our lives, may each of us find and create some space to rest, to sit in stillness, to talk with those we trust, or to engage with whatever other practice helps us find some of our answers, some of our clarity. Because to survive and thrive we need one another and we need our collective wisdom.

Love and Blessings,
Rev. Diana

Similar Posts