A Message from your Co-Ministers

From Your Co-ministers
June 10, 2016
Barbara and Jaco ten Hove
(This column is adapted from comments delivered at the June 5 Annual Congregational Meeting.)

As most of you probably know, we announced our retirement about a month ago; a retirement that will begin at the end of next January. Following protocol, we told the Committee on Ministry first, then the Board, the staff and the whole congregation on May 18. We timed the communication of the decision and the date of our retirement based on advice from counselors in the UUA who have lots of experience with such things. For our announcement we also took into account an awareness that the board was exploring the idea of hiring a consultant to help address important issues at Cedars. We knew that it would not be appropriate for such a consultant to start working with you without full knowledge of our decision, sooner than later.

We made the decision to retire for a number of reasons but want to share two primary ones. First, we have both served UU congregations for around 30+ years. That’s a long time and we recognize that our energy for parish ministry is not as strong as it was when we came to Cedars eight years ago. Both of us are getting older (and creakier) and maintaining our health is demanding. We also feel ready to aim in some new directions. We have spoken to many of you who have retired ahead of us and have felt enormous support for that kind of transition.

Our second reason is related directly to you as a congregation. You need to find new energy, too, and to do so requires a different style and spirit than we have to offer. This has been a challenging year for many in our church (us, too) and it’s clear that Cedars is changing. We understand that and agree that new ministerial leadership is needed. Thus, our decision to retire at the end of January.

We know some of you have questioned the advantage of our staying until just after the holiday season. It may seem like a long time away if you are eager for change. But, after eight years of relationship building and spiritual work here at Cedars, and with Jaco having been on Family Leave so much this year (caring for his father), we believe it’s important that we have the fall and the holiday season to say farewell together. There is a lot we have learned from you and we hope there are things you learned from us, too. Having time to be together through a couple more seasons makes sense and we have been supported in this timeline not only by our counselors at the UUA but by the Cedars Board of Trustees as well.

We are also aware that some among you are uncertain as to our role in preparing Cedars for its next chapter. Although we will provide continuing leadership in all our usual ministerial ways and will support the board and other leaders through our knowledge of various UU systems, we will have no part in making any decisions about what Cedars will choose to do after we depart. The UU governance model (“congregational polity”) assures that such decisions are in the hands of ongoing church members; your leaders will be communicating with you a lot over the next few months as the way forward becomes clearer.

Meanwhile, we hope during these next months we will enjoy each other’s company in ways large and small. There are lots of Sundays to worship together, dinners and lunches to eat together, classes to learn together, and moments to laugh and cry and remember together. Just as there can only be one church in which we each began our ministries in the 1980s, there will always be just one church from which we retire: this one. We will always cherish that with great gratitude and will continue to express our thanks for all the gifts you have given us during these years of service.

This summer you will see us in the pulpit more than usual and we will be offering some opportunities to talk personally about this transition. In particular, we hope you will join us after service on either (or both) Sundays, Aug. 14 and 28 for what we are calling “Conversations and Reverberations.” These will be informal gatherings in The Island School Library to share thoughts, concerns, hopes and dreams.

We feel deeply blessed as we move along this path. We honor your feelings and great strengths. Thank you for your care and support.

Fondly, Revs. Jaco and Barbara ten Hove