In Shared Ministry

Before I went to seminary – despite being very active in my local UU congregation – I remained skeptical about the value of “church” in today’s world. I wondered if “church” was a concept we could do without.

Then, in my first year, I received a fellowship that began with a conference on excellence in ministry, specifically targeted to “next generation” church leaders. Alongside 19 other young adult fellows from across the country, I spent 10 days in Atlanta exploring a new vision for congregational life, and through our conversations, I began to envision how church could matter in ways no other community or institution could.

It was so inspiring to hear stories from my new friends, who shared their passionate experiences of religious communities where the members were actively co-creating with one another and with the minister, co-creating vital centers of meaning, of service, and of hope. They told about innovative outreach, experimental and rich worship, and robust shared spiritual practices. I got so excited! It was literally life changing. I left the conference clear about my call to parish ministry.

These last couple weeks, I’ve had more than one person say to me, “so, you’re on your own now.” And I’ve quickly responded, “Not at all. I have over 800 partners.”

This congregation, and our faith, is built on the kinds of creative partnerships I experienced and heard about in that fellowship conference. Unitarian Universalism is about relationships and partnerships, at every level. There’s no solo – anything. Unitarian theologian Sharon Welch has even ventured to say that you cannot be moral alone.

We are living into that vision I glimpsed in Atlanta six years ago – and I remain so excited!

Marc signed almost all of his newsletter columns, “yours in our shared ministry.” Now seems like the perfect time to live fully into his invitation, and strengthen our partnership in furthering the reach of love both within and beyond our community.

About Rev. Gretchen Haley

Gretchen Haley is relentlessly curious about most things, especially the big stuff of theology, the beauty of creation, the magic of collaboration, and the great joy of pop culture (reflected in this blog by random posts on Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Scandal, Orphan Black, or the latest Marvel movie). She has an audacious ambition for the liberal church, believing in its capacity to transform lives and our world by way of hyper-local relationships and partnerships that inspire the unleashing of courageous love. She's all in on adrienne maree brown's emergent strategy, and finds solace in the trails in and around Fort Collins Colorado where she serves with the brilliant Rev. Sean Neil-Barron as one of the ministers of the Foothills Unitarian Church. She and her amazing partner of over 20 years, Carri, have 2 children, Gracie (14) and Josef (12) who both relish and resent being PKs, and who keep her grounded, frustrated, inspired, and humbled, everyday. She is basically obsessed with her puppy, a large sized mutt, Charlie.
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