My metaphor of searching for True North has never been so poignant as now, when so many members of the wider KUUF community are debating the future direction of the fellowship. This has also been a time when my evaluation has been researched and written by the appropriate parties, balanced by the Fellowship Dinners and feedback about the whole fellowship’s future. These have been challenging days for me, but overall an important and educational process. Some questions being asked in the wider community are:
What does it mean to be in fellowship and/or relationship with each other?
Where are we going as a congregation, and who will be leading the way?
What will be our process for figuring all this out?
And, in that process, whose voice counts? What criteria for eligibility do we use, to determine who has
About my work, is Developmental Ministry the right model for KUUF?
Were the early days of Rev. Mike’s ministry here based on real information or hearsay, and did he handle the challenge’s he faced in the best possible ways?
These are challenging conversations to have. One thing you have all learned about me is that I will not shy away from difficult conversations. So, I must broach this one.
There is a perception that recently, some long-absent members mobilized to be present on a Sunday when they knew that I would not be, in order to show everyone else their displeasure with me. (True or not, that is the story making the rounds in the congregation.)
Now, some are hearing that another group of members are mobilizing to minimize the perceived damage caused by these others. This is painful for all of us. The situation is polarizing, and in the long-term, damaging to the fellowship. We need to walk carefully. Yes, we need to speak with honesty, but also with special care. All voices need to be heard and honored, even if some will not “get their way” about this or that.
I actually feel more hopeful about KUUF than I have for a long time. The recent Fellowship Dinners allowed many members to voice their hopes and dreams, and it was all a very positive step forward for us. We have
members saying, we can’t go through this again (splitting the congregation and polarizing into opposing factions), which is a great improvement from when I got here, and there was so much denial about the issues at KUUF.
So, finding our true north is – as always – our primary work as a spiritual community. We wish to continue to be a fellowship of friends, even family, who support each other in times of need and celebrate with each other in times of joy. We want to continue to be a beacon for hope, love and justice on the Kitsap Peninsula.
There are members who meet with me to discuss deeply personal and painful issues, which are held in the strictest confidence, and this is an aspect of my work that is not publicly apparent. But it is so very important to these people that they have someone trained, with whom to talk about those things weighing on their hearts and souls.
We, as a congregation, also want to be welcoming to new folks who walk through our doors. And more than anything, we want to be in relationship and in dialogue with each other, and not factionalizing and mobilizing for a vote that may never happen. We need to learn to forgive one another when we are human and make a mistake. We need to find our way – together. We need each other. Every single one of us is important and integral to our congregation, and the polarization pains so many of us, myself included. We have it within ourselves to be better than that – and I know we can do it. I can see it, just up ahead, on our journey towards true north. Let’s walk that path together.
May it ever be so and blessed be you all!
– Rev. Mike