Jane Bramham: I Didn’t Know That!

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You discover a colleague has an exhibit of her pots, a skill of which you weren’t aware.  An acquaintance turns out to be from the same small town as one of your grandparents.  In conversation with a friend you learn they have a political opinion in opposition to what you thought was a shared belief.  Each revelation elicits an “I didn’t know that.”  In a reflective vein, you could ask why you didn’t think she was artistic, why you’re surprised that their geographic history overlaps yours, why you assumed a common partisanship.  Such revelations widen your view of the other person.

There is some “I didn’t know that” when it comes to the Lead Minister’s job description, specifically the expectations in his Letter of Call and, with respect to his administrative role, described in our Governance Document.  The Board of Trustees received, discussed and accepted the Ministerial Review Task Force report in March, and has reviewed the findings with Rev. Mark Ward.  The Task Force reported “there was a surprising lack of specific clarity as to what exactly he is responsible for. On the other hand, there was a general appreciation that the job must be complex.”  In last week’s Staff & President Reflections, Mark described elements of his job, and I encourage you to look back at his report.  Mentally add up the hours it takes to accomplish the variety of worship, pastoral, administrative and outreach tasks – each of which has its own skill set that make up his week – and you will have a deeper sense for the dedication, time, and skills Mark’s work entails.

WORSHIP is the most visible, and creating “thematic, interconnected flow” to each worship experience takes lots of time.  In addition to coordination with staff members, Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper, Joy Berry, and Milton Crotts, he promotes lay participation in Sunday services in various ways, including training Worship Associates. PASTORAL CARE, a more personal and thus less visible activity, is a role in which he is felt to be trustworthy and compassionate.  We take pride in seeing his COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES in the news; he is creating new connections in our Asheville community, as well as with his community of UU ministers regionally and the wider UUA.   

In my four years on UUCA Board, the Trustees who have served, and I, have observed Rev. Mark Ward grow in leadership through a complex transformation of congregational governance, learn along with us and work collaboratively and creatively with the Board.  I concur with the Task Force conclusion that he “has been and continues to function as an exemplary lead minister.”  I think you are saying “I already know that!”

I hope you say “I know that!” and “I’ll be there!” for these upcoming events:

  • Welcome Project groundbreaking is this Sunday, April 12 between services at 10:30am.
  • Town Hall Meeting, April 26, 2pm is an opportunity to hear and ask about two items prior to voting at the Annual Meeting.  The first item is the budget.  The administration prepared a budget with input from Annual Budget Drive and Finance Advisory committees and presented it to the Board, which on April 7 approved this budget for presentation to the congregation.  The second item for discussion is an amendment to our Bylaws.  Planned Giving and Finance Advisory committees worked with the Board to craft a bylaw amendment on using Bequests to UUCA.
  • The Annual Meeting will follow the one Sunday service on May 31.  At this meeting the Congregation elects Trustees and members of the Leadership Development Committee, votes on the budget and the bylaw amendment, and celebrates this year’s volunteers and our accomplishments.

The next time you are sitting in the pew or getting coffee in Sandburg Hall, take time to talk to someone and try to find an “I didn’t know that” which might create one of those connections we are seeking by being members of this congregation.