Minister’s Newsletter for November 2019

Dear SVUUS community,

I am really loving fall in Utah! It is such a joy to be in this gorgeous state and to be with South Valley during this momentous time in your history.

With November arriving, South Valley is now a quarter of the way through the second year of Interim Ministry. In the first year of Interim Ministry with Rev. Bob LaVallee, South Valley spent time recovering from the loss of your former settled Minister and your Music Director. This was very important work because losing these two members of the ministerial team had a big impact on South Valley.

This year I have been having a lot of conversations with the board and congregational leaders about other parts of the “tasks of the Interim,” the time in between settled ministers. Specifically, we’ve had conversations about South Valley’s identity, examining its governance and leadership structures, reviewing the budget, reviewing personnel documents, reviewing the bylaws, and clarifying roles and responsibilities. I have a feeling that I come to South Valley with a higher administrative focus than previous ministers this community has experienced. I acknowledge that is probably confusing to many of you because I’m not staying in the role of the specific type of minister that South Valley has had in the past. I can imagine that it is jarring for the congregational system to have a minister like me who asks so many questions about the organization itself.

Although I know it is uncomfortable, I keep asking questions and raising a mirror to South Valley because my ministry is to the system itself. My ministry is about helping South Valley be a strong and healthy congregation. This requires the congregation being clear on roles and responsibilities; improving clarity in bylaws and policies; developing (or help congregants learn about already existing) protocols and procedures; and improving transparency in budgeting reports. This type of work will help South Valley build its organizational strength. Especially in our current political climate, the saving message of Unitarian Universalism is needed more than ever. It seems counterintuitive, especially because most UUs tend to be anti-authoritarian/anti-organization, but to be responsive to the larger culture and to be supportive of South Valley congregants, a strong organizational structure is needed. It is my hope that raising questions and helping South Valley address gaps within the congregational system will help it continue to improve its ministry to the Salt Lake City area. I want the absolute best for South Valley and its future. I want South Valley to have a successful ministerial search and I am committed to helping in this process in whatever way I can.

These issues and concerns show up in worship through the overall theme we’ve had in the first half of our year together about the stories we tell. Whenever possible I’ve tried to bring up questions that are part of the Interim ministry time in addition to the “traditional” services. Towards that end, in November, there will be two services that have been done in the past and are gaining traction in the larger UU world, specifically the All Souls service on November 3rd and the Bread Communion service on November 24th. In addition, I will be leading a service on November 10th about our individual and collective stories about money and on November 17 there will be a Transgender Day of Remembrance service led by South Valley congregants.

I’m grateful to be part of a community that, while having traditions, is willing to see them through a different lens, and that you are willing to try new types of worship services as well.

Many blessings to each of you. Please feel free to contact me to talk about whatever is on your mind. I can be reached at minister@svuus.org.

Rev. Karen