I hope that everyone made it safely through Tropical Storm Irene. I know that several of you live near rivers, so I hope basements and homes weren't too wet nor tree limbs falling. Pastor Ella called me from New Orleans, worried about our well being. She promised she would come up and help us rebuild if necessary. I reassured her that we were mainly just very wet, and that Irene was no Katrina. I know that up north, out west and on the coast, the impact was much greater. Even a weak hurricane is a powerful show of nature, a reminder that we are part of it, and not above it.
Every September brings with it changes. When I step back in the pulpit, I see how our children and youth have grown. I see new faces and new families. I see also who is not there: those who have moved away or moved on. I remember and miss the faces of those who have passed on: Norm, Pat, Hal, Jane, Mark, Shirley, Roy, Aaron...the list grows a little each year. And my heart still clutches at their absence.
This year, we will see something we have not seen for several years: significant transitions in our staff. As she writes in her letter in this newsletter, Sadie has decided to stay home full-time with her family. We have been very blessed by her presence. She and we have grown together in a lot of ways. She came here straight from college. She presented an exciting and invigorating vision for our religious education program. She brought creativity and energy, competence and organization. Together with the Religious Education leaders and volunteers, she helped us create a strong and healthy religious education program for our children and youth. We saw her through personal changes of marriage and family. We also saw her through professional changes, as she became a credentialed Director of Religious Education, and a leader among her DRE peers. Sadie has helped us build a strong foundation for RE. We are in a position to reflect together all we have accomplished in her eight years here, and to support her in her decision to do what is best for her and her family at this time in her life. I have full confidence in the RE Council and leaders, volunteers, and in our children and youth to work together during this transitional time. We are coming from a place of strength and accomplishment.
We also are welcoming Russ Menk as our ministerial intern. While our congregation has mentored interns before, it has been over a decade. And it will be my first experience as a ministerial supervisor. Russ brings a fresh and energizing presence, a new and different voice. He is full of enthusiasm and ideas. He brings a lot of experience of life in UU congregations and in the larger world. I am excited and delighted that he will be joining us for this church year. We will have a special welcome for him and his wife, Jackie, at our social hour after our opening worship on September 11th.
Some notes for our opening Sunday and beyond. Our opening Sunday coincides with the tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11th. To honor and to remember, I will be holding a service at 9 am in the sanctuary to offer a time of reflection and quiet prayer and meditation. At 10:45, we will hold our traditional opening Sunday worship with the water communion. I invite you to bring a little water to share from something or somewhere special to you to pour into our common bowl. The goal of the common sharing is not to list the places we've been but to offer a brief reflection on what of your spirit is symbolized by it. It may be something of healing, of hope, of starting anew, of accomplishment, of anticipation. of loss, of sorrow, of joy. What of your spirit are you bringing to this new church year?
For those of you who enjoy the evening services, we will begin those again on September 18th, at 5:30 pm. These informal, circle worship services meet in the chapel.
Many thanks to Lynne Cole and the Worship Committee, and those who led services over the summer. Worship matters and I am grateful to all of you who keep it going during the break. And I am really looking forward to seeing all of you soon. I miss us!