I think we can agree that this kind of evasiveness won’t pass muster in our shared ministry!
I’ve had some time to think about and practice the leave-taking that come with the ministerial life: Saying “Good-bye” to my home congregation as I ventured out to pursue ministry. Saying “Good-bye” to my internship congregation. And now, saying “Good-bye” to Fourth UU, site of my first professional ministry. I know that saying “Good-bye” to you, who co-ordained me and taught me more than seminary did about the joys and challenges of shared ministry in a small congregation, is no simple thing! It doesn’t seem to get any easier!
I have been reflecting these days on the five elements hospice chaplains tells us are central to a good “Good-bye” – Being able to say, “Thank you, I'm sorry, I forgive you, I love you, Good-bye.” You’ll hear from me on those points this Sunday at my last service.
What is it that YOU need to say or to hear for us to have a good “Good-bye”?
A healthy ending is the greatest gift I can pass on to you and the next minister in order to set the stage for a healthy new beginning. Ministry is fundamentally about service to a congregation. Because that service is so heavily relational, best practices for UU ministers are to make a “clean break" with congregants at the end of a ministry. This serves you well by allowing you to move through any grief and make way in your hearts for a new minister to be welcomed. I would hope that your new minister will be welcomed as warmly and as enthusiastically as you welcomed me.
It is customary for the minister not to maintain any contact with members of the congregation for at least one to two years. I will, of course, be available to your new minister, at their request, for consultation as needed in order to support a smooth ministerial transition.
Having said that, I’m not gone yet!!! I will be with you for the next two weeks, through July 3rd as we wrap up our ministry together. Please do reach out, by email or phone, so we can make a practice of those good “Good-byes.”
Blessings for the journey,