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Minister's Musings: November’s Pastoral Letter from Rev. Stefanie Etzbach-Dale

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

This month’s theme is “CHANGE”. In my experience there’s a big difference between how we respond to changes that we’ve initiated (such as a vacation or long-planned sanctuary renovation) and changes that are thrust upon us. The latter can be very difficult to face.

But the fact is, even those changes we expect will have welcome or even joyful results (like holidays) can be stressful – especially when compounded by other situations over which we may feel we have little control. In consideration of this, and in consultation with the UUSM Pastoral Care Team, I will be facilitating a Sharing Circle after the service on Sunday 11/27. Let’s help one another bring focus to that which nourishes us during times of change. Please save the date and plan to join us!

In addition, three dates will be set aside in December for “gentle focus” on the changes that this season invites us into. One December gathering will be via Zoom (12/05) and one will be in person after a Sunday worship service (12/18). In the Spirit of UUSM’s pre-existing Open Circles, these gatherings will include themed readings, a chalice lighting, a check-in, and themed discussion – allowing for deeper reflection and compassionate listening.

However, you find yourself responding to the changes of the season, do plan to attend at least one of these gatherings. And, of course, reach out to the Pastoral Care Team in the meantime if a more personal/confidential meeting would be helpful – or if you’d like to find out about some of the many other opportunities to gather in small groups for fellowship, support, and celebration.

On another note, I draw your attention to Kathy Kinner’s excellent letter regarding the Minister’s Discretionary Fund. Some folks have asked why it’s called that, given that UUSM is currently in an interim period of ministerial transition, and how it’s being administered.

This fund was set up to allow confidential/discretionary aid to find its way to community members in need. Normally the appeal to bolster the fund is made around Christmas and needs are directed to and administered by a congregation’s minister. UUSM leadership has wisely decided to transfer that responsibility to the Pastoral Care Team until such time as a new minister has been called.

At our last Pastoral Care Team meeting, we discussed the fact that the Fall/Winter season exacerbates the needs of those who are already financially marginalized. And that effect is already evident. This means we can’t really wait until Christmas Eve to bolster this fund.

If you have any questions about the fund and the kinds of needs that have been met through it, please contact Kathy Kinner. And, if you are in a position to add to the fund at this time, know that your generosity will be well applied and gratefully received.

In this season of change may we, in all possible ways, make visible, audible, tangible and useful the Spirit that flows eternally through and among us.

In Awe & Gratitude,

Rev. Stefanie


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