It’s so great to be home again, among you all! After four long but intriguing months away on sabbatical we are delighted to return to Cedars and our abode in Winslow. We hope that many of you were able to read the monthly columns that we sent from afar, sharing some of our travel adventures and thoughts. You’ll be hearing more in our sermons and conversations in the months ahead. We’re now actively catching up on all things Cedars, and there certainly has been a lot going on!
For instance, before we left we knew that we would miss much of the early transition into our new offices and meeting spaces. Clearly, a lot of folks have worked hard to make the space functional and beautiful and we add our gratitude for all the hard work done by so many, especially the point people who managed demanding details and handiwork. The transition continues, and we’re very excited about the Dedication Party there on Madrona Way, June 2 after church.
We were also pleased to see how successful the annual stewardship drive was. Thanks for making a strong commitment to your congregation, and extra thanks to the leadership team that made it such a creative process. Meanwhile, the Sabbatical Committee and Board stayed on top of things big and small, largely behind the scenes, so they also deserve giant kudos.
As expected, staffers Candee and Chris stepped up in a variety of ways even more than usual in our absence. Our Religious Education program continues to blossom and our Music just keeps getting better and better. We hope you know how lucky you are to have such talented people as these working for you. We missed them and are happy that we get to return to collaborate some more.
And we were thrilled to hear from numerous colleagues who came to guest preach at Cedars about what a wonderful experience they had with you. They were impressed by the energy they felt at Cedars and could tell that we are a growing and thriving congregation with wonderful lay leadership and excellent staff.
As we reflect on what we learned during our time away from you we realize again how much religious community means to us and to our world. One of the most disappointing realities we confronted during our time away, particularly in England and Northern Ireland, was how many churches (including Unitarians) are not only not thriving but actually dying on the vine. It made us aware of how very precious our religious freedom and our liberal religious institutions are in the United States.
So, we want to ask you now that we’re back together, what dreams are you dreaming for the future of our beloved congregation? What might be next in our journey together? We now have our first “landed” home. Yes, we know it’s not our Sunday morning space, but it does solidify us in a way that we’ve never been before. How will we use these nice rooms to meet our mission? How will having such a home make a difference to us as a congregation?
We’re also aware that we are approaching our 5th anniversary as your ministers. That’s a good long time, which we celebrate, but what do we imagine might happen in the next five years? What kind of ministry does our community need from all of us? And what resources (human and financial) do we need to move with strength into the future?
We realize that we can’t answer these questions quickly or simply. After the sabbatical our goals right now are to reconnect with all of you, share what we’ve learned during our time apart, and hear stories from your lives in and around Cedars during our absence. We are hopeful that this process will only bring more good energy to all of us. It seems like a promising time to start imagining and dreaming big for our congregation.
Thanks again for all the fine work you did to keep the Cedars vessel sailing well through the winter and early Spring. We return with humility, gratitude, and an abundance of learning experiences. We expect to be around a lot this summer and look forward to sharing and shaping with you.