A cardinal hopping from branch to branch in a Japanese Maple….
Large pelts of rain knocking on the window, blessedly pushing the heat wave out….
Kids splashing and laughing in the swimming pool, water shining up to the skies….
These are the sights and sounds of summer that soothe my soul.
How about you?
My prayer is that each and every one of you has enjoyed the opportunity to slow down to pay attention to your surroundings, to relax, and to listen to your own souls this summer.
It sure has been a busy time. With the Democratic National Convention here in our beloved Philadelphia, many of us participated in public witness events. Our church coordinated a Black Lives Matter Rally where we peacefully protested for more safety, well-being, opportunity and justice for people of color.
My prayer is that each and every one of you finds ways to live in support ofyour moral values. This is why we come to church: to think and feel deeply, to build our theologies and to live out our moral values. It is no easy task, but together in beloved community we receive critical support and encouragement. One way we can all live out our Unitarian Universalist faith this year is to support robust, fair democracy. The fifth principle of Unitarian Universalism is “The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.” Hence, in this tremendously important election, I encourage everyone to help people register to vote (by the PA deadline of October 11th) and prepare to vote in support of moral values in November. In the coming days we will send out information from our UU state-wide advocacy group (UUPLAN) about how you can get involved in voter registration efforts if you so wish.
I am thrilled to have two wonderful, new staff members starting this month. Jason Bender, our Director of Spiritual Development, and Constance Simon, our Intern Minister, both bring wisdom, intelligence, compassion and contagious enthusiasm for life. I am thrilled for Jason and Constance to get to know you, the people of this wonderful congregation, and I am thrilled for you to get to know them. Together we will most certainly do great things for the congregation and the wider community.
On a separate matter: I am also deeply grateful that in 2017 I will take a sabbatical (from February 15 to August 15). I look forward to this gracious opportunity to reflect, study and engage in professional development. In our UU congregational tradition, ministers accumulate one month of sabbatical per year of service. This coming year is my 15th year serving USG as Minister. Am I lucky, or what!?! This will be my second six-month sabbatical. I know many people work long, hard years in their jobs and could use a break. Not everybody is afforded a sabbatical. Hence, I am particularly grateful for this opportunity.
Working in conjunction with the Board of Directors and the Ministry Executive Team, the Staff and other committees are making plans for the church to run smoothly in my absence. We will share more details about those plans in the coming months. My goal is for the time away to be as mutually beneficial and enriching as possible for the congregation and our ministry together.
However, there are six entire months between now and then. We have three more dynamic Sunday worship and children’s spiritual development programs this summer. AND I just can’t wait for us to gather for our In-Gathering Water Ceremony on September 11th. I can’t wait for all the spiritual practices and justice making we will do together in the coming months. This church enriches my life every day. I hope you feel the same.