Summer 2017 – From the Minister

How do you tell your story, the history of yourself, and your people, your family and country, your sense of place and your own dirt—your land, your home, this common ground—and how do you tell it in relation to all the other stories, the story of the person next to you right here, and the story of the stars, invisible, right above your head (and also below you and around you, infinite in all directions), and the story of the soil beneath the concrete floor that holds the bones and dreams of ancestors whom we choose to call family, or not. The way you enter your story, locate your plot, the way that you write history, is the way you do religion. What matters here? What’s true? Where’s the thread of meaning? How do the threads connect? Religion is the practice of doing this together, mingling the small streams of our little private stories in a greater, flowing confluence —finding our place in the family of things.

These words come from the first sermon of this past church year, way back in September, but I think of these things in the spring as well, when at the Annual Meeting we close the chapter of one year together, and open the chapter of the next. And I am filled with gratitude, for the lives of beloved members who have died this year, who made this house holy by their presence: Randy Castle, John Weaver, Dean Honetschlager, Ann Berry, Lowell Hanson, Channing Donahower, Marlys Oliver, Charles Grady, Donna Jorgensen.

And I have gratitude as well, beyond measure, for all of you remaining, children and adults, who grace this house with laughter and hard work; with music, art, and wisdom; preparing budgets, coffee, classes, as if our lives depended on these things— because they do. In this hard year especially, with our country shaken to its core, the church is ever more a beacon of light and love and truth and hope. Our lives are anchored here.

With sadness now, and pride, we say farewell to Luke and Jenna Stevens-Royer, as Luke answers the call to our Rochester congregation—and again, I’m filled with gratitude for his ministry and friendship. Looking forward, our hope is to hire an interim Assistant Minister to be here for one year as we gather a Search Committee and clarify our intention for a permanent position.

And in the meantime, thanks to your incredible and practical generosity, our building is in a state of cheerful, crazy chaos, as ceilings, floors and offices are ripped apart to make way for the new HVAC system, which will warm us and cool us more reliably and efficiently for years to come. Watch your step this summer—and be proud of this accomplishment! If you’re in the building on a weekday, speak a word of thanks to Anna Gehres, Steve Bolton, and John Macke, who are managing the project.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat. And give thanks.

-Rev. Victoria Safford