And Away We Go

photo of Rev. Mark WardI hear that news of who will be serving UUCA as interim minister will be going out soon. What an exciting time! As it happens, I’ve already spoken a little with your person, as they called me ahead of the interview with our search committee to scope out this place and get my impression on leaving.

I sang your praises but also acknowledged some of the challenges that you face in the coming days. The one thing I particularly wanted to share with you is that I told them that this fall you need to find lots of ways to gather – formal and informal, fun and serious. Many of us are only now creeping out from behind our Zoom screens to experience people in person again. And I think we’re all hungry for real face time.

We as a congregation are an institution, of course, and we stand for many important principles, but most of all we are a people place. This reminds me of a talk I gave a couple of years ago to kick off one of our fund drives.

“Each Sunday,” I wrote, “I stand by our door, and I watch as the most amazing stories walk by me – some tall and moving fast, some small with wide eyes, some laughing in clusters, some moving slowly. Some of them I know something about, and we catch up as they pass. Some are total mysteries, and I wonder what is behind that shy smile. Some are smiling and talkative. Some are withdrawn, or just enigmatic. It is the most amazing part of my week, when I watch us inhabit this place, when we fill this space and give it life, when we venture out from our cozy homes, navigate city streets, scramble, sometimes, for parking, and find our way here.

“Walking up the sidewalk, we look around and see some people ahead of us, others behind. We come to the door, a hand reaches to welcome us, the busy stir of mixed voices washes over us and we are back, back to a place like nothing else in our lives, a place where our stories join a common story.”

This, I think, is what so many of us miss: the sense of connection and community that comes of our spending time together. And that is what you must find ways to create as you restart. I know you can because you have. In my experience, this has always been a warm, welcoming community, and it’s what everyone wants to have back again. Now, go and make it so!

Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

Our Vespers & Program Will Resume in October

Your Adult Faith Development Team (Jim Steffe, Kelly Wedell, Sherry Lundquist, John Bloomer, Linda Topp, Kim Collins and Rev. Claudia) will continue planning for the fall. Please reach out to Rev. Claudia  faithdev@uuasheville.org if you have ideas for programs and/or are interested in leading Vespers. Resources and support for Vespers are provided each month. Notice we will resume programs in October. Our Soul Matters themes for next year:

Oct. – Cultivating Relationship
Nov. – Holding History
Dec. – Opening to Joy
Jan. – Living with Intention
Feb. – Widening the Circle
March – Renewing Faith
April – Awakening
May – Nurturing Beauty
June – Celebrating Blessings

Have a healthy, happy summer!

Northern lights with a Mary Oicer quote: You can have the other words – chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I’ll take grace. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ll take it.”

Let’s ALL Take a Break! No New Worship Services in July!

fox curled up and resting on a tree stumpSo, do you need a break? We thought so! As we near the end of the 2020-’21 church year, we come to a major transition in our congregational life together. With the departure of our lead minister, Rev. Mark Ward, in June and the exhaustion that all of us – staff, volunteers, and . . . well, everybody – are feeling after a year of coping with the COVID pandemic, we are planning on doing something that, as far as we can tell, we’ve never done at this congregation: We’re going to cancel weekly worship in July.

That’s right. After we say good-bye to Rev. Ward on June 13, we’ll take a break in worship until August. Actually, we recommend that you connect for Sunday worship at General Assembly on June 27 – we’ll post the link on our Web site – but other than that no services are planned. We’ll begin Sunday services again on August 1 with our traditional Poetry Sunday. In the meantime, if you need a break from the hiking trails and you’re hankering for some UUCA time, we will send a selection of videos in late June from the past year that you can watch.

Any covenant groups, social groups or other committees that would like to continue meeting are welcome to, but we’re giving all staff members a chance to breathe so they won’t be at those meetings.

So, let’s all plan our camping trips, or bicycle or hiking adventures, or just chill by the pool and recharge our batteries so we’ll be ready for an exciting fall with our new interim minister.

PS:  Administrative staff will still be paying attention to things like processing donations and paying bills and reserving Sandburg Hall for meetings.  So it’s not a break from donating.  Just in case you were wondering….