Thanks to a generous gift from Ken and Jerusha Vogel to Meadville/Lombard Theological School in Chicago I am pleased to announce our first ministerial intern in many years starting in September this year. Lara Fuchs is in her final year of seminary and is highly regarded for her worship arts skill and her intellectual acumen. She is the daughter of a UU minister and will bring not only a deep appreciation for our faith but an excitement and curiosity as we learn together. Here is her introduction to us:
“I’ve lived in many different places, and enjoy exploring, adapting and facing new challenges and adventures. Born in Winnipeg Canada, I’ve also lived and worked in several States and provinces before moving to Europe in 2005. My mother is a Unitarian Universalist minister, so I was raised UU from birth. My faith has always informed my life goals and sense of responsibility to social justice and human rights issues. I’ve always felt a call to serve which led me to volunteering, working with people with disabilities, providing pastoral care, and my career as a nurse. While on a nursing contract in Hoboken, New Jersey, I met my partner, Michael, and we eventually moved to Europe, settling in his native Switzerland.
“Connecting with people in my new community led me to see the need for a liberal religious community for many English-speaking people here, as well as for the Swiss, who, despite being increasing secular, often seek liberal spiritual community. I believe that Unitarian Universalism can be a bridge between cultures and faiths, a platform for dialogue and compassion, and a model for how we can impact positive change in the world for people and for the Earth itself. I am interested in building networks and supporting emerging Unitarian communities around the world. In 2010 I co-founded a new UU congregation in Basel, Switzerland, and became involved with the EUU (European Unitarian Universalists). Shortly thereafter, I attended an ICUU conference in Koloszvar, Romania, and was invited by the ICUU Executive committee to fill a mid-term vacancy as a Member at Large, and now serve as Hon. Secretary. In 2014 my studies began with Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary, in Chicago, to become a UU minister. Currently I am serving three lay-led European UU fellowships as ministerial Intern, in Geneva, Basel and Amsterdam.
“Michael and I live in a small, picturesque village on a hill near Basel. We are surrounded by fields for grazing, cherry orchards, forest and pastures that offer endless paths to explore with our 6-year-old Italian Water Dog, Vita. Sailing has been a lifelong passion of mine. Michael and I are looking forward to our summer holiday in Lake of the Woods, Canada, racing and cruising sailboats with my father and brother.
“Serving as ministerial intern in Westport will give me the opportunity to learn from a congregation and ministerial team with varied experience and expertise. I will be able to observe and participate in congregational programs and the multi-faceted life of religious community, helping me to stretch and grow into a minister.”
What does this mean for us as a congregation? Well, congratulations are in order: We have formally become a “teaching church”. In the church year Lara will be with she will learn about the joys and tribulations of parish ministry. I will spend significant time with her as she works under me as an intern minister. She will work and learn from our fabulous staff. She will preach at least once a month and play a part in worship and worship planning. She will initiate and work on a “focused intiative” to help us as a congregation “cross borders to reach out to the underserved”. She will have a five person lay committee who will explore and learn with her what it means to be a minister. More importantly, we will all learn from each other as we explore new ideas and dreams.
Far from this being “low cost professional help”, an intern minister is an investment we are making in the future of our movement. I and many of you will devote time and love to her formation in our midst. It is a sacred honor and one I am thrilled we are making. This will be the first of up to three years of ministerial internships.
Lara will be with us for both services on March 6th when I will formally introduce her to the congregation. Please join us then in welcoming Lara.
With Grace and Grit, Rev. John