One of my centering practices is photographing things that bring me joy. Yesterday as I was bicycling home, I stopped to take in the beautiful light on Beaver Lake from the setting sun. I sat on the bench by the road for a moment of silence before heading home. I sat with a feeling of gratitude for the beauty before me, for the end of the workday, knowing I would be in my warm home soon on that chilly day.

I recently participated in a workshop on the practice of collaborative ministry and felt deep gratitude for the collaborative ministries in our congregation. A workshop facilitator explained why the title was “collaborative ministry” and not “shared ministry”. “Shared ministry” means that someone else “owns it” and allows participation.  “Collaborative ministry” is an effort to acknowledge the egalitarian nature of ministry. What an important distinction! The work of this congregation is not just the responsibility of the board and paid staff.  All members of the congregation have responsibility to co-create this Beloved Community we aspire to.

I see this in many areas of our work together. Staff, lay leaders and congregants working together co-create Beloved Community by supporting each other on our spiritual journeys. This happens with our congregational care team that is lay-led in collaboration with our lead interim minister. It happens in RE where our staff works with volunteers (at least 40 this year) to lead numerous programs that serve our children and youth. Where else do you see collaborative ministry at UU Asheville? How can your gifts contribute to our ministries during this exciting time in the life of our congregation?

Coming back into community after almost three years of being apart and developing new habits, has been awkward and slow. Some have not returned. Yet, there is so much happening in our congregation! We are welcoming visitors every Sunday. Religious Education is thriving. A new Soul Matters Small Group is launching this month. Our Justice Ministry partnership with BeLoved continues to deepen and engage volunteers. Our Search Committee is joyfully and earnestly going through the ministerial candidate packets on the journey of discerning who our next lead minister will be. There is much more I could list, but you get the idea. There is much to be grateful for.

Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development