Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder and Happy Trails to You

Happy Trails to You

Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder and Happy Trails to You
July 2014

This is the last column that I will write as your District Executive. Over fourteen years we have worked together to build a strong and vibrant district that is the envy of the UUA. I am proud of all that we have accomplished together during my tenure as your district executive. I will treasure the many kind thoughts and well wishes that have come my way in personal notes, official letters from congregations, and the many people who have come up to me to thank me for my service to their congregation, the district, and the UUA.

Like many people on the cusp of this new adventure, I have reflected on some of the things of which I am most proud. We have grown our staff in response to the demands for more service to congregations and I am immensely proud of Cristina, Jillian, Paula, Andrew, Joan, and Sandra for the hard work they continue to do on your behalf. We have nurtured and trained others who served on the staff and went on to other ministries. I am grateful to have had the company of companions such as Rev. Susan Rak, Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Earnst, Rev. Cynthia Kane, Rev. Dr. Carol Taylor, Rev. John Gilmore, Bob Johnsen, Rev. Lyn Cox, Kim Mason, Christopher Sims, Rev. Jan Taddeo, Kathy Smith, Jody Malloy, and Meredith Higgins. We have sent Pat Infante and Mark Bernstein on to the CERG staff of the UUA.

We have created enduring programs such as Healthy Congregations to provide solid emotional health in our congregations and allow them to respond effectively to crises that seem to alway be present. We started the first Racial Justice Conference in any district and it continues into the future. Our district is a leader in building an antiracist, multicultural community of faith. We started the first Worship Arts Festival which has enriched our corporate worship through the introduction of music, liturgy, and other worship arts to wider audiences. This too will continue into the future.

i have no doubt that the Joseph Priestley District will continue to lead in these areas as well as others that are yet to come. Rev. David Pyle has been named as my successor and he and I have already begun a smooth transition which will take place over the next few months. I hope that you will like him as much as I already do after just a few encounters. I plan on doing all within my power to introduce him to you and help him in gaining a solid grounding as he begins his new ministry. He is very excited to meet you and become your new partner in faith as the District Executive.

But is now time that I start the new adventure of being retired. People have asked what I will be doing. My immediate plans are to take some time for myself and Janet, my wife. I have some travel plans for the fall to visit family in the south. I also will be attending my first UURMAPA meeting. UURMAPA stands for Unitarian Universalist Retired Ministers and Partners Association. I will spend time getting my musical skills on guitar and banjo improved so that I might play them in public without embarrassment.

I will become available for guest preaching starting in January 2015. I may do some consulting in the area of Policy Governance and teaching Healthy Congregations workshops. If David Pyle needs me for anything in the near term, I will respond affirmatively to assist his ministry as the DE. I also am going to spend time creating stained glass window art and may be an exhibitor at GA 2015 in Portland, OR, where I will be formally recognized as retired as I complete twenty-five years of ministry.
I want to thank each of you for your trust and confidence in me. Without that trust, we could not have been so successful all these years. I will still live in Wilmington and be seen around the district as a participant, not the leader. So as the songs say – Off I go into the wild blue yonder of retirement and I wish you happy trails until we meet again.

Yours in the Faith,