Dear UUCW Members and Friends,      

I have some important news to share with you…   I have decided to retire from UUCW at the end of January 2022.  

UUCW is a wonderful congregation, and I love you very much.  We have shared a long and amazing ministry, and that has made this decision very difficult.   

But as I think you might understand, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes that shifted my thinking about my life and my future.  I have felt my soul calling me in new directions, and I have a growing awareness that UUCW would benefit from new ideas and strengths different from mine.  The hardest thing has been figuring out what would be the best time for me to go – the best time for both you and me.  

In truth, there really isn’t a good time.  But this fall and the holiday season ahead will allow us to remember the good we have created together, and say goodbye in meaningful ways.  And I’m still your minister, still fully present and joyfully committed to you and UUCW through the end of January!  I will support and work with our wonderful staff, leadership, and volunteers as this next phase in UUCW’s evolution begins, and then gently move into my next phase as you explore yours.  

Because our ministry together has been long, you may be wondering what happens next. Let me assure you that our Unitarian Universalist Association has well-structured processes and procedures for helping congregations move through ministerial transitions. I have full trust in our Board to navigate what’s ahead – they will have all the information they need to guide you.  No doubt you are wondering about Rev. Denise Cawley, too, so let me tell you what we know right now.  First, please know that Rev. Denise is fully committed to serving our congregation as we move into this time of change. You may recall that our quarter-time contract with her as Assistant Minister for Pastoral Care began in March concurrent with my shift to three-quarter time. Though that contract runs only through December 2021, our plan from the beginning was to review it this month and discern together how to move ahead.  That process will soon be underway. 

I feel so very blessed to have served as your minister for the past 18 years.  If you know UUCW’s history, you know that I’ve been here more than twice as long as any previous minister!  How did that happen?  I’m tempted to say “Magic!” but the real magic is YOU, and the strong relationships we have built.  I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished, indebted to the dozens of gifted lay leaders I’ve had the privilege to work with, and grateful beyond measure to our fabulous staff who serve at the core of our beloved community.   

I hope we will take time between now and the end of January to celebrate this great church and what we have meant to each other, and to tend our grief, too.  In this way, we can have the best farewell possible. 

Our UUCW President, Lisa Larson, has written a message on the other side of this letter.  I hope that her words will offer reassurance and help answer your questions.   

Sending love and blessings to you — Rev. Suzelle Lynch 

 

At our special Board Meeting on Tuesday, October 12, the UUCW Board of Trustees received the news from Rev. Suzelle Lynch about her retirement plans.  

Like you, we’re feeling a mix of emotions – blessed that we have had Suzelle as our spiritual leader for 18 years, and at the same time sad because we will miss her for so many reasons.  With any change comes apprehension, but in this case, it also brings confidence, because thanks to our wonderful members, volunteers and staff, UUCW is healthy and strong.  

I’m writing on behalf of the Board to let you know that we stand ready to carry us through this time of transition and into a new season of congregational leadership. We know, too, that we have much to process as a community as we work together with Suzelle while she wraps up her ministry and we transition into the future.  It’s a time of mixed celebration.  For those of you who are retired; you know retirement is a big transition with sadness for your departure and excitement for what is to come.  This will be the case for Suzelle.  This will be the case for our church.  We are grateful for all the gifts Suzelle has brought to our church.  We will miss her deeply.  We are also grateful to have a few months to make the necessary adjustments allowing us to transition forward successfully. 

What will happen next? Traditionally, after a long ministry, congregations work with an Interim Minister for one or two years to help make the transition from one longer-term minister to another. The interim period allows time to reflect on the past and assess where we are and where we want to go. The Board will work with the Unitarian Universalist Association to determine how we’ll proceed, and as plans fall into place, we’ll communicate with you regularly via the E-News and other means. But please do seek us out with your hopes, concerns and questions – join us for you can reach us by emailing board@uucw.org.   

Together we now begin a time of ending and moving toward a new beginning! If you’d like to help with plans to celebrate Rev. Suzelle’s ministry among us, please go to the volunteer form here. And as we move forward together, let’s be sure to share our feelings, our skills, and our dreams for the future with one another. 

Kind regards, 

Lisa Larson, UUCW President