March Message from Reverend Carolyn
Think back. Were you at church on February 5?
If you’re like me, you don’t remember what you had for breakfast this morning so I’ll give you a couple of hints. I preached on stewardship. It was what clergy often call the “Sermon on the (A)mount.” Get it? (It’s okay. It’s only mildly “punny”.) The sermon on the 5th wasn’t really about the “amount.” But it was about this year’s stewardship campaign.
Here’s a link to that sermon if you missed it or if you’d like to revisit it: http://www.allsoulsnewlondon.org/page/to_face_the_hungry_ghost__a_stewardship_reflection.
Current wisdom says that in order to be heard, we have to say something more than once (or 100 times) in as many venues as are available. So, in this column I’m going to reiterate the goal to raise enough money to increase staff capacity.
Have you noticed all the new folks making their way to All Souls of late? Or perhaps you yourself just recently found All Souls? (Of particular note: our Sunday attendance is up 20% from this time last year.) Have you noticed the number of children and youth who make their way to their classrooms for their Sunday School classes and the number of teachers who commit to facilitating and witnessing their spiritual growth? Have you noticed the outreach that All Souls has offered to the wider community, from our work with Start Fresh, including Jay Street Ministries, to organizing buses that went to Boston for the March for Women’s Lives? Did you attend Friday Night Folk’s benefit concert, “For Pete’s Sake” and see the huge crowd that gathered for a night of great entertainment but also, to support Start Fresh and refugee resettlement?
I could go on; but I’ll stop there. But please, consider all that you have experienced of late at All Souls.
And then consider that there is one full-time person among us. That would be me. The ministers and staff have for quite some time been working beyond capacity. With this current surge in spirit, activity, and numbers it is critical that we address this increased demand and we need to do so ahead of kicking off a capital campaign, hopefully, next year at this time.
So, here’s what the Board and I are pitching to you, the congregation:
Reverend Caitlin’s responsibilities would shift. She would be responsible for providing pastoral care for all of the congregation (currently her pastoral care
focus is only on families with children). In this capacity she would also build and then offer ongoing support for a pastoral associates program (meaning congregants would be trained to offer pastoral care and hospital visitation). She would also do hospital visits at Yale as increasingly Souls are being cared for in New Haven. Finally, she would preach more frequently. She would work for 20 hours per week.
Reverend Caitlin taking on these responsibilities will free up my time to do the kind of social justice outreach these times demand of Unitarian Universalists. For example, I was the lead organizer for a recent press conference the Mayor of New London called on immigration and refugee justice in our community. Eight hours of my time were dedicated to this event. You can imagine, I’m sure, the range and volume of emerging demands. It’s all great. I love and feel called to all of this ministry both within and beyond our walls. But it’s not sustainable for the long haul.
We would hire a Director of Lifespan Faith Formation for 30 hours per week with an additional 5 hours a week to focus on membership integration. We believe that there would be time enough for this staff person to tend to religious education for adults as well children- in part because the pastoral needs of families with children would fall to Rev. Caitlin and also because Arlene Stoltz would remain as our Religious Education Administrator at 15 hours / week.
In order to reach this goal we all need to reach together. I’m confident in the congregation’s ability and generosity especially when we’re all reaching together.
We will be well positioned to greet our future with a strong infrastructure in place.
If you have questions, concerns, enthusiasms, talk with me, Reverend Caitlin, or any Board member. If you don’t know who serves on the Board, look for the folks with magenta ribbons on their nametags on Sunday. They’ll all be glad to hear from you.
We’re on our way!
With love, confidence, & gratitude,