A 2020 Message from Your 2020 President

by Pam Collins

I thought to call this article “Moving Up Day,” but it’s more like just moving around as some of us take on new roles to give others a chance at a rest or a new perspective.  So here we are, a new year, a new decade, and UUCSS moves ahead with a new Board, a new governance system, a new budget.  She who guided us so aptly through the past year (Julie Holmberg), now moves into the position of “Past President” — wise counselor and chair of the Leadership Committee.  I, who have been watching and learning this past year, will now get to sit in the hot seat of President…where I will continue to watch and learn and hopefully reflect some of that back to you as we, in our collective wisdom, seek to grow ever deeper into our values and the actions they inspire.

As I take on this role, I think of an interview Bill Moyers did some years ago with Onondaga Chief Oren Lyons, in which Lyons shared that at the founding of our present state, the Iroquois warned the Europeans to keep the Sacred at the center of their governance structure. Well, we all know how that went and most of us, I trust, are pretty sure the Founding Fathers were wise to separate Church and State, given the discord and prescriptive attitudes that have surrounded religion (and its impact on governance) throughout Western history.  But, of course, “religion” and “spirituality” are two different things, that difference constituting a significant search for understanding in the UU imagination.

For my part, and for this coming year, I hope to take on leadership as a spiritual practice.  I’m not entirely sure what that will look like, but I’m going to begin with the phrase in our covenant that says “and service is our prayer.”  I know this is a lofty goal, but it’s not only worth a try, it’s the condition under which I let myself take on this job in the first place.  AND, I know that I am surrounded by good people who will call me on it if I stray too far from the path.

I think we all know at this point what our challenges will be going into this new year.  For the first three months, services will be different than we are used to; our children will be interacting with a different Director of Religious Exploration; and we’ll be called upon, come spring, to dig deep and really think about — and find a way to express — what our greatest dreams are for a new home.  Lots of work, lots of change, but lots of potential joy as well. 

I was going to end this little epistle with the question of “what if we all looked at this phrase ‘and service is our prayer’?”  But as I think about it, I don’t think I have to.  You all really get it!  In the few years I’ve been a member of this church I’ve seen so many people step to the plate when help was needed…even reaching out of their comfort zones because there was a space that needed filling (or, to stick to the baseball metaphor, bravely swinging with a bat that wasn’t quite the right weight).  So you will be my mentors and my guides as we all take a deep breath and dive into this new year, to make 2020 a year to remember.

I’m reminded of a quote by Shakespeare — “she is small, but she is mighty.”  Mighty we are, and mightier we are yet to become (and bigger too, I hope)

Having said all that, let me add that it is an honor to take my turn serving as your leader this year.  I promise you that I will continue the tradition of keeping the congregation well informed of the Board’s actions as well as getting to know each of you better and hearing your ideas about service as a spiritual practice (and other things as well). 

So…let’s raise a metaphorical glass of Saratoga Springs H20 and shout “Cheers” to a new year!