President’s Perspective – Begin by Showing Up

By Todd Iveson, 2017-18 President

As I write, Christmas and the New Year are just days away. I usually enjoy this time of year, but this year brings me special joy. In large part that is because I am so proud and thankful to be part of our congregation.

We have just completed our successful two- week run hosting the Room at the Inn. I was fortunate to spend many mornings working with many volunteers from our church and elsewhere who made this possible. Our guests were grateful to have a warm, dry place to sleep and some food to eat.

One memory of the many that will stay with me was the guest who wondered where the cross was. He may have been more confused than convinced after a conversation with another church member and me regarding our UU principles and the symbol of the chalice. Although he may have been confused, after doing this for two weeks, I know that we live our principles in many ways, and it all begins by showing up.

Many of you may not be aware of another exciting event in the life of our congregation. Sally Fritsche grew up in our church. I taught her in youth RE and was the worship associate when she gave her first sermon in our pulpit a few years back. A little more than two years ago, she was about to begin at Harvard Divinity School and asked our congregation to sponsor her, which is a necessary step in the long process to become a UU minister. The board gladly did so.

She is now about to enter her final semester, which is exciting, but she still has a long way to go. One of the requirements she needs to complete soon to proceed on her path is to undergo a career assessment. A career assessment is a comprehensive personal, emotional, and psychological evaluation to determine suitability for ministry. There is a charge for the assessment of $1,850. The UUA covers $1,000. Recently, Sally asked the board to consider subsidizing the additional $850. Fortunately, the church established a fund to honor Rev. William Haney, our minister for more than 20 years and now minister emeritus, to foster ministerial development. The board was proud to approve use of those funds to help Sally take the next step in fulfilling her call.

On a similar note, the board also approved Rev. Molly’s request to support moving forward as a teaching congregation by bringing in an intern minister. Molly has been discussing the possibility with a member of the Jefferson City UU Fellowship currently attending seminary. This requires a financial commitment from us to pay the intern a modest stipend. More importantly, it requires a commitment by Rev. Molly and the congregation to support the minister-in-formation to learn what being a minister really means. This is primarily an important teaching responsibility, although we anticipate the intern will also make a meaningful contribution to the life of the church in both practical and spiritual ways.

My prior UU church, First Unitarian in St. Louis, was a teaching congregation. I can attest that each intern who served us contributed to the richness of our church life, each in their own unique way.

Last – but definitely not least – I am happy to report that the Nominating Committee recommended and the board approved Mindy McPherson to fill the remaining months of a vacant board slot which ends at the end of this church year. She has also agreed to stand for election to a full three-year term at our next annual meeting.

As I said at the beginning, I am proud and thankful to be a part of all the ways we are working together to help heal the world in so many ways. May we be resolved in the New Year to keep showing up, and keep faith that it always matters.