Congregations willing to take advantage of the opportunities a time of transition presents are the congregations I’m eager to serve.
It’s understandable that church leaders may at first view the period between settled ministries with anxiety and a sense of urgency to ‘just get on with it.’ Yet both experience and solid research teach that great advances can be made during this in-between-time. It is a time to savor.
It has been my privilege and joy to serve twelve congregations during such transitions.
Oh, the things we have done!
While most of the credit for this work belongs to the leaders of the congregations I have served, here is some of what I bring to the table:
I am an interim minister who has devoted more than a 15 years to raising professional standards for interim work and to honing my own skills in consulting with congregations in times of transition. Following two settled ministries early in my career, I found my calling in interim work, completing specialized training, and designing and leading training for other interim ministers.
I believe that one test of an interim minister’s effectiveness is the success of the ministers who are settled in churches following the transition. To date, the larger churches I have served have enjoyed thriving settled ministries following my departure.
Although I value the tools and methods of church organizational development, I believe that my most important qualities are those which bring me closer to members of the congregation. I strive to develop a warmth and pastoral style that truly ministers to those who are troubled or excited about a time of change. I attempt to be available on a human level to those I serve.
In one of my sermons, I say this about preaching:
Nearly one thousand times now, I have stood in the pulpit and attempted to say something that would be worth speaking, and worth hearing. Something that might strike a chord and change a life. Nearly one thousand times now, I have confronted the knowledge that I would be challenged to somehow bring some comfort to people who are suffering, usually in silence, from loneliness, loss, rejection, terminal illness, anxiety, depression, setbacks of all sorts, confusion of all magnitudes.
That I have been allowed to try to live up to this challenge sometimes amazes me. It amazes me that I have been given such a chance to, as Reinhold Niebuhr put it, comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.
There are times when I think that I am not up to the challenge. There are times when I know I am not being attentive enough in visiting those who are sick; not diligent enough in attending countless committee meetings; and most certainly not skillful and eloquent and authentic enough in constructing and delivering these little spoken events we call sermons.
But I keep trying.
Please see the sermon page for links to recent examples.
I have nurtured existing religious education programs — and even brought some dormant ones back to life — during my interim tenures.
An example of my work is the Adult Religious Education program I designed and led for the Ann Arbor congregation.
I try to make my actions match my words as I reach out to the wider community. I have been active in church-based community organizing; with migrant farm worker education; with human rights groups in Romania and India; and with the California Legislative Ministry’s work for marriage rights and marriage equality. In 2004 I took a self-financed sabbatical from the parish to work full-time as religious outreach coordinator in the Kerry Presidential campaign. As one of the primary campaign spokespersons on religious issues, I was featured and quoted in a number of publications, and on NPR, ABC, CNN, and the BBC.
At Elliot Chapel I have supported the birth of a social action team focusing on services to the homeless, sending youth group members to build homes on Indian reservation in South Dakota, and launching support for "Standing on the Side of Love" activities.
At the Arlington, Virginia church, I’ve emphasized focus and impact in encouraging the congregation to come together, end fragmented, tiny projects, and concentrate on three signature initiatives: Church-based community organizing in support of affordable housing; immigrant rights and services in the community surrounding the church; and support of human rights in Guatemala.
It was, of course, a great honor to receive the Louis Cornish “Living the Mission” Award for leadership in UU international programs and connections. I think my more than twenty years of work in global liberal religious connections and humanitarianism broadens my perspective as I serve congregations in transition.
The pages of this web site attempt to introduce me to you from professional and personal viewpoints. Information on my Ministerial Record and references are also available in a password-protected area.
If you would like more information about me or my work for Unitarian Universalist denomination, please contact me.
I have served some of our leading congregations, including All Souls in Washington, DC; First Unitarian in Rochester, New York; Neighbor-
hood Church in Pasadena, California; the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta; the First UU Ann Arbor; Eliot Chapel in St. Louis; and the UU Church of Arlington, VA.