Good morning. I’m Lisa Larson, your Board President.

I have some exciting news to share with you on behalf of your Board of Trustees!! It was shared in a special email & in the E-news this week, as well, as mailed home to those of you who do not have computer access. My announcement today is to: reinforce getting that information out to you & make some clarifications.

As you know, the Board appointed a transition subcommittee (Pam Beatie, Laurie Boddie, and myself), to explore how we could fill a 6-month short-term void we will have in our ministry ensuring a smooth transition until we can potentially get an Interim Minister. Let me explain; Rev. Suzelle retires at the end of January & the void was created because the UUA only assigns Interim Ministers with August start dates.

The Board subcommittee was given the challenge to do the information gathering and research to help us transition to and fill that 6-month ministry void that starts in February & ends in July. Time was of the essence because a plan needed to be in place well before the end of January. We gathered information from published UUA ministerial guides, consulted with our UUA advisors & interviewed committee leaders here at UUCW. We did lots of listening during interviews with our ministers, staff, and specific committee leaders to find out what’s going well, what our challenges are, as well as what the current & future needs of our community are.

We are happy to tell you that as a result of our learning and discernment, the Board has extended an offer to Rev. Denise Cawley to serve as our full-time minister for that 6-month time frame from February 1-July 31, 2022.
Rev. Denise has been serving in our ministry with Rev. Suzelle since March, and she brings us many gifts and skills. In addition, beginning in December (so now) Rev. Denise will serve in a half-time capacity as co-minister with Rev. Suzelle, and then as a full-time co-minister in January. We were delighted when Rev. Suzelle suggested this arrangement, for it will support all of us here at UUCW in making a smooth transition into the next phase of our congregational life.

Covid has had a large impact on all our lives and Covid’s impact on our church community and structure is no different. At UUCW, our staff has worked diligently with core volunteer leaders to keep things running as smoothly as possible, but some of our church’s systems and processes are stressed. With this in mind, in addition, to worship responsibilities, Rev. Denise’s contract is specifically designed to help us focus more energy on Stewardship, Membership and volunteering, Pastoral Care, and planning – key needs identified by our transitions subcommittee.

Rev. Denise brings many gifts to us including:
– Having an impressive resume of proven management skills.
– Experience in fundraising, stewardship, and donor development
– Pastoral care skills for trauma and mental health & a deep understanding of our pastoral needs
– Technology tenacity and an understanding of how to use it to support ends
– Creativity, energy, kindness & thoughtfulness
– You will discover that she is a problem solver, questioner, and outside-the-box thinker
– And she has a keen ability to challenge us to think deeply about issues & to act
All of this coupled with her growing knowledge of our congregation and her good work with our staff, make Rev. Denise an excellent minister to journey with us through this time of transition.

You might be wondering what you can do to help…I have some suggestions:
– Encourage your board and leaders
– Stay calm, curious, and open
– Show your love to our church staff and hold them gently as you support them
– Support Rev. Denise

  • Be open to new ideas and ways of doing things
  • Answer her questions without judgment
  • Participate in planning opportunities
  • Encourage her to care for herself
  • Ask your own questions with curiosity and an open mind

Support Rev. Suzelle too, as she works to pass the baton of leadership to Rev. Denise and say farewell to all of us.
The Board and I know you’ll miss her just as much as we will, and we hope you will help plan and attend her retirement celebration for January 22.

Bless you,
Lisa Larson,
Your Board President & Friend

Read Rev. Denise Cawley’s response

Read Rev. Suzelle Lynch’s response