We write to you from the wintry landscape of Richmond, VA, where we’ve spent a month at the home of Barbara’s sister Mary, as planned. We’ve been reading and writing a bit, but this time with our family has really meant so much to us! When we moved away from the east coast in 2008 to return to our beloved Washington State, we knew we were leaving behind easy access to our family and old friends, as both of us grew up on the mid-east coast.
Our sabbatical time here has given us the blessing of regular contact with people who also mean a lot to us. While here we’ve not only seen Barbara’s sister and her husband David, we’ve also seen Barbara’s mother Rollene almost every day. Her two other sisters and niece have visited, too, and we spent four days near Kitty Hawk, NC, with Jaco’s sister Judy and her husband Blair.
We were especially glad to not have to rush our visit with Jaco’s sister, who has pretty aggressive lung cancer. (He’s now planning to bring their 94-year old father from Southern California to visit Judy in early May, near the end of our trip.) We were also able to be supportive before, during and after our brother-in-law here in Richmond had a serious operation to correct some issues that emerged from when he broke his leg very badly almost two years ago. Helping family in this way is something we’ve been less able to do since we moved back to the Northwest, so it is a deeply appreciated part of this sabbatical.
We’ve also had the rare pleasure of attending church numerous times this month—mostly at First UU Richmond and once at the UU Congregation of the Outer Banks, NC. We could just sit in the pews and enjoy the experience of worshiping with others who share our faith. Despite the different shapes and sizes of all the various UU congregations, our churches are in many ways far more alike than different, and it was a joy to celebrate our faith in beloved community even if far away from the church we call home.
Doing so made us consider how important it is that Cedars is actively connecting people in the Bainbridge Island/N. Kitsap area. This past month we found ourselves in two different places in the US and could find within a few miles a UU church where we were heartily welcomed. Think about this a bit. For many years, Cedars was a small fellowship, floating for the most part under the radar, with plenty of people maybe never knowing there was a UU church in the area.
Now we are a vibrant, visible congregation of many adults and children, meeting in worship every week. Our Religious Education, Music and other programs are strong. (Thank you, leaders and participants thereof!) Plus, for the first time ever in our history, we own a piece of real estate we can call home. It’s a great time to be a part of Cedars and we’re proud to be your ministers.
One of the services we attended at First UU in Richmond was their Canvass/Celebration Sunday, led by their senior minister—none other than the Rev. Jeanne Pupke, a talented person who did her internship at Cedars (then called UUFBINK), not long after the turn of the Millennium. Jeanne was then ordained by you, so we felt a bit of familial pride as she inspired us all to give radically to our church home(s). Knowing that Cedars is also in the midst of a stewardship campaign made us sit up a bit straighter.
Jeanne reminded us that when we UUs choose to give generously to our church amazing things can happen. Like us, she and her partner Regina tithe (give 10% of their income to meaningful efforts). We’ve also found this to be powerfully liberating. Even from far away, we know the pledge we make to Cedars (a generous portion of that tithe) goes to build a stronger church that really makes a difference.
As you move through this year’s Stewardship Program without us, we challenge you to remember how much it matters that people like you are able to find a strong and vibrant UU church nearby. Remember that when we work together we can build a rainbow community founded on the radical premise that all of creation is One and that Love is at the heart of it all. We will make another generous pledge to Cedars this year and we encourage you to do so as well.
Meanwhile, we miss you, dear ones, but you are in our hearts and minds daily. On March 11, we begin our overseas sojourn to England, Israel and Ireland, so thanks for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. Enjoy the coming of Spring!