Part of our annual recognition of the High Holy Days includes the Kol Kidre music on cello and organ. Last year at this time Carlyn told me she’d like to learn it and play it at our Sunday service this year. It’s a moving, challenging piece — having Carlyn play it last Sunday made it even more meaningful for me.
At our annual meeting I read a letter from Leela Sinha, who came to the church when she was 13 to take the About Your Sexuality class, because the congregation in Stamford, where she and her family were members, didn’t have an AYS class. Leela became an active member of the Youth Group. She says, “When I left for Carleton College you kept sending your newsletter, which I read avidly. I missed my youth group and set about developing young adult programming on campus, and eventually focused on UU youth history for my senior thesis.”
She wrote, “Because you have played such a vital role in my development as a Unitarian Universalist leader, I have a very special request. I’d like you to ordain me. Ordination, as you know, can only be performed by a congregation, and only happens once in a Unitarian Universalist minister’s life. It forms a special bond between the ordaining congregation and the ordinand, one that goes with the minister for the rest of her or his career. You have meant so much to me; I would be so happy if you would honor me in this way.”
Yesterday the congregation voted to ordain Leela. We’re looking at January 28 as the date for her ordination. We’ll keep you informed about details; those of us who have watched Leela’s path to ministry, including being hired as an Assistant Minister in Portland, OR are honored.
I want to talk with you about two other things: sermons and email etiquette. Each is a big topic, deserving more than this little letter allows. But it’s meant to be a conversation starter.
During my candidating week in the spring of 1984 I offered two sermons in which I attempted to tell you about my style of ministry and my vision. The first was titled, “Being Real, Together.” It was about the need for authenticity. At the risk of appearing unsophisticated, I referenced a children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit—a story about what it means to ‘be real.’ (“It doesn’t happen to people who break easily or have to be carefully kept.”) The second of the two sermons was titled, “The Companionship of Traveling Souls,” in which I used Whitman’s poem Song of the Open Road, as a way of letting my use of poetry in sermons be known.
The hope I expressed for a meaningful, challenging, authentic relationship with you has been realized to a far greater degree than I could have anticipated. Your part in that process has been the central ingredient to what we’ve achieved, so far.
I’d appreciate your input about sermons you’d like to hear. Be specific—tell me why the topic is important to you. If you email it to me, write ‘sermon idea’ in the subject line.
Which leads me to my comment about email etiquette. At a recent staff meeting we had an interesting discussion about the uses and abuses of email. It’s a wonderful way of staying in touch with a lot of folks in a short time, but it can be problematic. Tell me about your experience with email. What would you like to tell people with whom you are in email contact?