laurel amabileI have been reflecting on change as 2023 gets rolling. Not only the changes in my life, family and work, but in the life of our congregation.

Change is always at work in healthy and thriving congregations. Newcomers visit and many join as new members. Some people move away—from the congregation or Western North Carolina—for their own reasons. Ministers, Religious Educators, and other members of the staff change over time. Board members serve their terms and are replaced. Babies are born, youth come of age, and people dear to us pass away. Rites of passage help us to mark these changes in meaningful ways.

As we all are aware, the COVID pandemic forced sudden change upon all of us, with disruptions and concerns causing many layers of change in our society and lingering effects in our work, school, medical and faith communities. In the midst of this context, we experienced the retirement then sudden loss of our lead minister, Rev. Mark Ward—challenging us to adapt and be open to a changing congregational landscape.

We have spent the last year re-opening our programs and services and to learning more about ourselves during this period of Interim Ministry with Rev. Cathy’s reassuring presence and skillful leadership. The Racial Justice Advisory Council and Rev. Claudia have guided us through a process of self-assessment and learning about racial justice and our role in creating the changes we want to see in the world. Our Ministerial Search Committee has been dedicating a great deal of time and energy in the search for our next settled minister.  Your Board has been committed to supporting all of these efforts as positive developments.

Wow! So much has been happening and will be happening for us here at UUCA. Ours is a healthy and thriving and changing congregation. Let us rise to the challenges and celebrate our accomplishments as we move forward in 2023 together in this Beloved Community.

Laurel Amabile, UU Asheville Board of Trustees