It’s been a couple of weeks since Rev. Suzelle shared her retirement news with us.  While we all wish her the very best for this new stage of her life, many of us are also feeling mixed emotions of grief, anxiety over the future, and uncertainty.  As Rev. Suzelle has mentioned, all of these emotions are perfectly normal when dealing with a large change.  The Board of Trustees has also been processing this news and undertaking the task of discovering the next steps as we move forward.  Below are a few of the actions that we’re taking right now:

Partnering with the UUA and our Regional UUA Office:
While having a long-term settled minister retire is new for many of us, this certainly isn’t new for the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association) or for our Regional staff.  There are a wealth of materials and guidance available to us via the UUA, and we’re in close contact with our Regional Staff as well.  The Board is in the process of reviewing all of these materials and Lisa Larson, our Board President has had several conversations with the Regional Staff.

Assessing Needs and Considering Options:
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all instruction manual on the specific steps every congregation should take when a long-term minister is leaving.  While guidance, examples, and processes are available, it’s up to our congregation to determine the best next steps that will meet our specific needs at this specific point in time.  So, the first step that the Board has taken is to approve a small Board Task Force to begin assessing our current ministerial needs and begin to consider ministerial options.  The members of this Task Force include Pam Beattie, Lisa Larson, and me, Laurie Boddie.  We’ve been in the process of meeting with individual UUCW staff members, Rev. Suzelle, Rev. Denise, Leslie Peterson, and the chairs of our Social Action, Lay Pastoral Care, and Worship Ministry teams.  Note that this is only a first step and not meant to be a fully comprehensive UUCW needs assessment.  Rather, this Task Force will assess the most critical, immediate needs that we must ensure are met during the initial “gap” period when Rev. Suzelle departs at the end of January 2022. This Board Task Force will share their initial thoughts with the entire Board during the November Board meeting.

How will my voice be heard?
One piece of advice that we’ve received from several sources is to be sure that we give ourselves the time that we need to form meaningful plans and incorporate valuable input so that, at the appropriate time, the Board of Trustees can make informed decisions on our way forward.  So, you’ll be seeing many opportunities to share your thoughts, concerns, and hopes with one another and with the Board.  Please look for updates as we move forward. If you have anything critical that you’d like to share with the small Board Task Force, please reach out to Pam Beattie, Lisa Larson, or Laurie Boddie.

The good news is that we have a strong, vibrant, caring, and committed UUCW community.  We’re all in this together, and together we’ll continue to shape the future of our church.

Laurie Boddie, Board of Trustees Member

If you have any questions, please contact Laurie Boddie, UUCW Board of Trustees Member.