Big News from the Minister

March 28, 2017
Dear Friends,
It is with such bitter sweetness that I write to let you know that I’ve given the Board notice of my intent to resign. I have asked the Board to be released from your Call and Covenant. I have just accepted the offer to be the candidate for a settled ministry position in the Pacific Northwest. That congregation would like to reveal my name on Sunday morning when they are all together in worship. Given the small world of Unitarian Universalism, I have agreed to share their name and location at that time and not before.
Our reasons for this move are purely personal. I am ready to return “home” to be closer to my parents. They are in Washington and Utah, which leaves my only sister, in Idaho, as the one to travel to check in on them as they age. I wish to help her and them in this final phase of their lives. Stuart and I both love the Pacific Northwest. We raised our son, Theo, among you, but he is now launched into the world, and we feel free to return “home.” Though I’ve been thinking about this for a few years, I am grateful to have been here to shepherd the move to the new building and enjoy the fruits of all your hard labor and success.
When you called me to serve as minister 15 years ago this May, we knew that the two greatest challenges facing us were establishing a healthy relationship between minister and congregation, and dealing with the inadequate facilities of the property in East Lansing. I am so honored to have been with you as you have tackled both issues with great success and integrity. You are so primed to welcome a new minister among you! You have shepherded the burgeoning ministries of the Rev. Duffy Peet, Rev. Greg Martin, Rev. Kevin Tarsa, Nic Cable and others. You know what fabulous ministers there are out there. They will be stumbling over themselves for the opportunity to serve this growing and vibrant congregation. Our futures are bright, just not linked in the same way as they have been this last decade and a half.
When I accepted your call to serve in 2002, we were both committed to making a long ministry last. We have done that and then some! Our tenure together is twice the average pastorate. Nevertheless, our shared story of a lasting ministry together makes leaving all the more difficult. The longer we are in each other’s lives, the harder it is to say goodbye. We know well the words of William Blake that “joy and woe are woven fine.” I want you to know how very sad it makes me to be leaving, even as I anticipate with great joy my next settlement.
It is my guess that this letter will be unexpected for many of you, and I am sorry about that. If only this congregation were closer to my family, I would continue to serve you until retirement! As that is not practical, I am glad to share all I’ve learned from you with another deserving congregation.
I will be gone for most of May for “candidating week” and then to attend the Installation Service for our first ministerial intern, the Rev. Duffy Peet in Bozeman, Montana. I will be back Memorial Day weekend and will be in the pulpit again each Sunday through June 18.
I anticipate these final three months together as ones of celebration, discernment, and farewell. You have much to celebrate. You have such a bright future here in your new home. You are more than ready to begin a new adventure with a new minister. You will attract the best ministers our movement has to offer. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as your minister these last 15 years and I am grateful to you all. I will continue to carry you in my heart and in my ministry.
With love and gratitude,
Rev. Kathryn A. Bert
Senior Minister

From Barry Carr, Board President:

Hi All,
When I first learned of Kathryn’s decision to move to be physically closer to her family, I was happy for her, and yet sad to see her go. I am writing this letter from Seattle, as my daughter just moved out here, and I’m visiting for a couple of weeks. So for me, this mix of emotions I’m feeling is quite familiar. I am much more happy than sad and really excited for Kathryn. I know how important family is to Kathryn, and had the chance to meet her mother at the UUA General Assembly a couple of years ago. I am very grateful to Kathryn for her years of service to this congregation, and it would be tempting to try and enumerate all her great qualities, but I know we’ll have time for that over the coming weeks.
I am confident that, as a congregation, this transition will be a positive journey. Like any journey, I expect there to be bumps along the road. While we may not be familiar with the process, it is a well-worn path with a lot of guidance provided by the UUA. The next step in the process is for us to hire an Interim Minister. The UUA even provides the following text to include in a letter such as this:
“It is understood, in accordance with the established policy of the Unitarian Universalist Association, that the interim minister is pledged not to become a candidate for the congregation’s called ministry, not to serve the congregation for more than two years (with a limited exception for interim ministers of religious education and interim associate and assistant ministers), and not to discuss specific prospective candidates for the called ministry of the congregation with the ministerial search committee.
It is also understood that interim ministers both carry out the normal responsibilities of congregational ministry, including worship and pastoral care, and also assist the congregation in addressing the following interim tasks:
* Claiming and honoring its past and engaging and acknowledging its grief and conflicts;
* Recognizing its unique identity and its strengths, needs and challenges;
* Understanding the appropriate leadership roles of minister(s), church staff, and lay leaders and navigating the shifts in leadership that may accompany times of transition;
* Making appropriate use of regional, UUA, and other outside resources; and
* Renewing its vision, strengthening its stewardship, preparing for new growth and new professional leadership, ready to embrace the future with anticipation and zest.”
So, in light of this development, the agenda for our congregational meeting on Sunday, April 9, 2017 has been changed and the revised version is below.
There will be a lot more information about the process, and ample opportunity to participate in decisions along the way. I’m looking forward to our shared journey as a way to practice and live our covenant.
Barry Carr
Congregation President
The Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing calls for a congregational meeting on Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 11:45 a.m. The purpose of the meeting is to:
a) Vote on approving the minutes of our previous meeting;
b) Vote on approving a slate of candidates for our upcoming election;
c) Vote on the Board’s request to hire an interim minister; and
d) Celebrate our successful Capital Campaign.