Message from the President – Karen Fisk – July 2019

“When I told my congregation that I was traveling to New York City, to give our intern her charge as a new minister, one said, ‘That is easy, just tell her to keep on doing all that she is doing here with us!’” – Rev. Harris Riordan of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton, Rev. Rachael Hayes’s internship congregation.

I was so excited to participate with Ministerial Search Committee representatives Carol Johnson and Janis Gray in the Ordination of Rachael Hayes June 9 at the Fourth Universalist Society in New York City, Rev. Rachael’s home church. The ceremony of ordination included Rev. Rachael’s friend and co-ministerial student, also from the Fourth Universalist Society, Shari Halliday-Quan. I joined Julē Sanchez from the First Unitarian Society of Rochester in welcoming our two new settled ministers to our congregations. These were our lines:

Karen: In this room, there are people both from your past and your future. Some have watched you and encouraged you as you worked and prepared for this day; others will reap the fruits of harvest for what we hope will be many years ahead.

Julē: Remember you are never alone; all the people who have formed you and all the people you will serve journey alongside you in this work. Will all others—family, friends, and colleagues within and beyond our tradition—please rise in body or spirit, to add their love and encouragement to this ordination?

Then Carol and Janis placed the stole that the Fellowship in Boca Raton had made for Rachael around her shoulders. And I told her “You look good!” And she really did—she glowed with excitement and—goodwill, yes, I think that is a good way to describe it. I also told her on our behalf, per my script, “we look forward to welcoming you to Amherst this fall.”

And a member of the Rochester congregation also placed a stole over the shoulders of its new settled minister, Shari. A stole is the physical symbol of ministry. A minister who was once the intern at my home church became famous at the UUA General Assembly for doing a speech in which he named all the things ministers are responsible for while putting on his stole, and finding himself so weighted he was gradually pushed to the ground—and yet he kept talking.

We expect a lot of our ministers. And that is as it should be. However, we also are asked by our principles and sources and our adherence to right relationship to also exercise patience, respect, and personal responsibility in our relationships with all others—including our ministers.

I am so excited about welcoming Rev. Rachael to minister together with us. And I am eager to give the time needed to get to know each other, learn about each other’s styles, and help, help, help as well as lead as we strive for our goals. What goals? Well, we need to define those goals together. But the greatest and most important goal is to continue to embody this thriving and beloved faith community shored up by the principles and sources of a remarkable and reasonable faith: Unitarian Universalism.

Yours in faith, Karen

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