Over 200 congregants had a splendid afternoon bidding farewell to Rev. Mark Ward, our lead minister who retired after 17 years of service to UUCA.

Here’s Mark’s remarks to you, as well as the prayer he wrote for us:

Thank you, thank you to everyone who was in any way a part of the retirement party that you gave me on Saturday. It was such a beautiful event, so well put together, so generous, and flooded with good feelings. Thank you especially to Planning Committee members Cecil Bennett, Beverly Cutter, Judy Galloway, Ann McLellan and Phil Roudebush. It all was more than I could have hoped. Your words were so kind, your gifts were so generous. I am grateful to all those who came. You threw a great party. In my remarks on Saturday I closed with a prayer offered to the community. Here it is, with blessings on you all!


At the center of every gathered community

there is a common hope, a common joy

that is larger than any one person yet encompasses them all.

We experience it as warm heart that centers us,

a tough and tender presence

that directs us to our own seat of compassion

and challenges us to rise above our narrowness and fears,

that offers us a sense of the holy.

I speak to that warm heart today.


Dear heart,

There is a welcome energy in our gathering again

after so much time away.

It is reassuring to see familiar faces

and exciting to see new ones,

reminding us that as with all life we are evolving and growing.


We stand at a pivot point in this community,

the turning over of leadership,

like the turning over of soil in a garden

that both disrupts and opens up new possibility.

Confessing my own sadness at separating myself from you

so you may best take advantage of this moment,

I still cheer you on as you take on the challenges

of building and sustaining a vibrant liberal faith

that holds before it the vision of beloved community.


May you find in this moment the courage and hope

to make of this community not a haven but a crucible

where you might strengthen your spirits and widen your compassion,

where you might deepen your understanding

and feel the spur to the call of justice-making.


It is my prayer that the deep joy within you

will join the great hope among you

and inspire you to live into this community of memory and hope,

such that you might bless the world.


Rev. Mark Ward, July 10, 2021

As noted, the planning committee did an amazing job!!!! as we had two giant tents, 200 chairs, a stage, pulpit and microphone, and lots of food.  The weather was perfect.  The Sandburgers added their fabulous entertainment.  The selected speakers could not have been more eloquent.  They were Mary Alm, Kay Aler-Maida, John Bates, Owen Reidesel, Joe Hoffman (retired minister from First UCC in Asheville) and Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper.  Will Jernigan was a terrific MC.  Tears flowed, presents were given, hugs were shared.  It was a great day!
And a big thank you from Planning Committee member, Ann McLellan:
Labor of Love UUCA Caterers turn Green!Not green with envy, but green with money saved, and certainly green with earth-friendly choices.  Thanks are due to our UUCA “caterers” who provided refreshments Saturday at the Retirement Party for Rev. Mark Ward.  These accomplished foodies made or arranged for all the goodies including gluten free and vegan items.  They also facilitated clean up after the party by using all compostable plates, clear cups and forks made entirely of plant materials.
Thanks UUCA Caterers!  What a team!

Caterers                                Servers & Cleanup
Wilma Oman                         Jo Angelina
Judith Kaufman                     Carol Buffum
Sherry Wothke                      Susan Andrew
Myrtle Staples                       Olivia Steinke
Candy Hickman                    Audrey Kipp
Ann McLellan                       Judy Mattox
Judy Galloway                      Ken Brame
Reed Olszack