March 28, 2017
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
From Barry Carr, Board President: