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August 2012 - Searching for True North


Every month, this column will seek out a direction that we can each follow, to find our "true north." Part of a spiritual person's quest is to find the way to their own understanding of life. In a tradition that values a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, the way to "true north" may be different for each of us.

In my monthly column, I will highlight ways to find a spiritual "true north" that seem meaningful to me. As I get know you all, my sharing will be greatly based on the things I see and hear in the fellowship.

This month, to find a true north related to moving in and becoming acclimated, I will be focused on team and community building. It seems to me that this is my first and most pressing challenge, as I arrive and delve into my work at the Kitsap UU Fellowship.

For the fellowship at large, I will be seeking ways to inspire a beloved community amongst us. In large part, many of you have been together for a long time, so this should exist on some levels, already. I'll be the new element, as I seek to become part of your community, and then inspire it to strengthen the ties within the existing community, as well as aspiring to be open to newcomers. This really is the foundation of my work: supporting and building community.

For team building, I will seek out the various groups within the fellowship, to see what is being done and ascertain how I may be supportive. For example, I'm interested in what we do for pastoral care and small group ministry, as these may be the first places in which members articulate that they are in need of assistance. How can I support this invaluable work?

I'm also interested in what we are offering in children's religious education, as I value our young people, and want to encourage the fellowship at large to be supportive of this important program.

Another team that I will work with intimately is obviously the staff. These are just three examples, out of many -- what is important here is to realize that our success as a congregation depends on how well we operate as a "shared ministry." I will strive to be supportive, to

lead when needed, to listen when needed, and to affirm the work of volunteers who have been engaged in this work already. I have no illusions that I can do all the work of our congregation alone -- teamwork is essential.

In all of this building of teams and community, I will be watching for all the dynamics of family systems. These are the earliest and strongest ties that bind each of us to others, and so is often the unconscious model for relating to others in a tight-knit community. You may know that some family rela- tionships are quite functional, others are dysfunctional. It is important to be aware of this, and to look for positive ways of relating to others. Your Covenant is an excellent, healthy way to do just that.

Another side effect of building relationships on a family model is that there are often visible and invisible lines of connection. It's a good idea to illuminate the invisible lines of connection, and make them visible -- this results in fewer people feeling left out of the 'family' and its decision-making processes. It also allows us to build new, visible lines of connection, without resentments.

For those interested in how family dynamics can play out in a congregation (for good or ill), I recommend a classic, Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue, by Edwin H. Friedman.

May we each find our true north... 



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