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May 2019 Temporarily Yours by The Reverend Beth Miller

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At the Annual Meeting on April 14th I mentioned that we’re halfway through my time with you. It’s a fitting time for me to consider the year you’ve been through, my time with you thus far, and what’s ahead between now and July 15th. 

The biggest thing for you, of course, was The Reverend Steve Crump’s retirement in December. You also made him your Minister Emeritus which means that although he is completely absent now because of the guidelines UU ministers abide by during transitions, an ongoing relationship with him will be worked out once your new Senior Minister is called. In preparation for the transition, the Board held town meetings and wrote numerous articles to help you prepare for Steve’s departure and understand the transition process ahead. I know there are still questions that will be answered as the process unfolds. But despite the disruption big changes inevitably bring, you’re moving forward with ongoing special projects, keeping ministries and programs strong, and have even begun some new initiatives.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know and working with your staff and they deserve a shout out for their commitment, competence and can-do spirit. 

  • Associate Minister, The Reverend Nathan Ryan, continues to be a strong presence in the pulpit, manager of Roots and Branches, and your go-to minister for pastoral care among other areas of responsibility.

  • Diana Dorroh, with the help of Business Administrator, Heath Hebert, and many volunteers, has moved into her new role as Executive Director, keeping the financial transition, communications strategy, sanctuary audiovisual project, campus wide capital improvements moving along, taking on staff supervision, and learning the nitty gritty of numerous technical procedures. 

  • Family Ministries, under Kathy Smith’s direction and with many volunteers, has maintained a robust religious education program for children and youth and offered the new bimonthly well attended all-church community building events: the Chalice Festival Potluck, Gumbo and King Cake Cook-off, Fun Sing, and the Crawfish Boil on Easter weekend.

  • Leah Hartman and Trey Davis continue to work with our fantastic choir and other musicians to provide an excellent music program that, along with Worship Guild participation, grounds our worship services.

  • Office Administrator, Allison Hall, has been coordinating vendors to get numerous jobs done, organizing volunteers to clean out storage and other spaces, bringing in more building rentals, and updating our database. 

But nothing we do happens without you, the participants, and especially the volunteers who make everything we do happen.

  • Your efforts here at church as members of our many teams and committees, leaders of RE classes, Branches groups and Beloved Conversations, service as ushers, worship associates, welcomers, coffee and snack preparers and cleanup crew, openers and closers of the building, and too many other tasks to name make church happen. 

  • Your social justice work with strong participation in Together Baton Rouge, Days for Girls, the Interfaith Federation and Holy Grill, LCMAP, Baton Rouge Pride Fest, and the Walls Project/MLK Fest 2019 witness to your commitment to our purpose as Unitarian Universalists, to increase love and justice in the world. 

So, halfway through my time here, I can say with solid conviction that UCBR is a healthy, vibrant church making a difference in the lives of its members and in the world. I’m privileged to serve among you.  My goals for the next three months are to continue supporting the staff and Board as their roles evolve during this part of the transition in preparation for the interim work with The Reverend Joel Miller beginning in September, provide Sunday worship services, cover Nathan’s areas of responsibility during his mini-sabbatical, and, most importantly, being a helpful ministerial presence to you, our congregation, as you continue to live into change.