Minister’s Blog2023-03-23T11:15:54-04:00

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Sunday, April 2, 2023

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Service Leaders:

Lisa Bovee-Kemper, Minister
Dave Warren, Lay Service Leader
John Herrick, Director of Music

From the Minister

What Is This Interim Ministry Thing, Anyway? Sermon Redux

Early in my time here, I gave an introduction to the concept of interim ministry in a Sunday service called “What Is This Interim Thing, Anyway?” Since not everyone was present for that service, I thought I’d offer a blog post on the highlights of that conversation. It’s particularly relevant right now because sometime in the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my first Interim Ministry Report with y’all. So, a good time for a reminder of where we started.

Here’s an excerpt from the sermon. If you’d like to view the whole service, here’s the recorded service: What Is This Interim Thing, Anyway?.

As a congregation, you have entered into a time of transition and change. A time of experimentation, of curiosity, and recommitting to your core values. And your work is to tell the story of your past and fully inhabit the story of your present so that you can create the story of your future.

Rachel Freed told the Huffington Post, “Telling our stories is not an end in itself, but an attempt to release ourselves from them, to evolve and grow beyond them. We tell our stories to transform ourselves; to learn about our history and tell our experiences to transcend them; to use our stories to make a difference in our world; to broaden our perspective to see further than normal; to act beyond a story that may have imprisoned… us; to live more of our spiritual and earthly potential.” (from In the Interim, p 43)

It’s important to know that I arrived here without a specific agenda. I don’t have a list of things I’m expecting need to be changed, updated, or done differently. I’m here to learn who you are, to review and assess, to reflect back what I observe, and give you my best suggestions for possible ways forward. That’s one of the things you’ll see in the upcoming report.

Ultimately, the church belongs to you, and so does its mission, vision, and future. Your minister is a guide, a partner, a leader in the ministry you share. And as interim minister, I have an additional role – I act as a kind of consultant, working with you for a finite period of time on some specific goals, preparing the way for what’s next.

According to the interim ministry handbook, “There is no single “recipe” for interim ministry and, of course, each minister brings their unique strengths and style. But generally, in addition to carrying out customary ministerial duties, interim ministers help congregations explore five areas, called focus points:

  • HERITAGE– Reviewing how the congregation has been shaped and formed.
  • MISSION– Defining and redefining sense of purpose and direction
  • LEADERSHIP– Reviewing member needs and the congregation’s ways of organizing and developing leadership
  • CONNECTIONS– Discovering and nurturing the relationships a faith community builds outside of itself
  • FUTURE– Preparing for the next era of leadership
  • It sounds like a lot – but the work is being led by me, the board and the staff, supported by the transition team, and shared by all of you.

In that early sermon, I asked you to remember and contribute three things:

The first is a willingness to show up. Margaret Weis says in her reading The Church Has Left the Building, “The church is not just a set of doors open on Sunday morning, but the commitment day after day, and moment after moment, of our hearts creaking open the doors of welcome to the possibility of new experience and radical welcome.”

The second is a spirit of curiosity. I’m going to be asking a lot of questions and we’re going to be trying new things. You’ve done great at this so far! It’s been fun to experiment with things like Community Sunday and switching up the order of service. Let’s keep that up.

And the third thing I ask of you during this interim period is that you read the emails you get from UUCC. That’s where you’ll find updates to this blog announced, for one, in addition to info from the board and the transition team, and SO MUCH MORE!

Thank you for your gracious welcome and steadfast participation these past months, and for being open to doing the work of the transitional period. I look forward to what’s next.

March 30, 2023|Tags: , , |

Mission Matters

It is my practice, in any congregation I’m serving, to share the mission of that community whenever I welcome people into the sanctuary. Often when I begin, people are surprised to hear the words – once a member said, “Wait – THAT’s our mission? I thought it was [another set of phrases]” I bet you just laughed – so did I, it IS funny. But it’s also the very reason I have this practice.

I was reminded of that “Why” behind this thing I’ve been doing for over a decade the other day when I read a recent entry in my friend the Rev. Kimberley Debus’ new column Hold My Chalice [link https://holdmychalice.substack.com/p/more-more-more] over on substack. It’s called, “More, More, More,” and it’s pretty compelling.

There are two reasons that I always share the mission statement when I am formally welcoming people into the congregation:

  1. It tells newcomers who we are right up front. It’s a snapshot of our values and where we are choosing to put our energy and resources.
  2. It reminds us who we are and why we are here. It’s a snapshot that the community worked hard to create together for the express purpose of sharing our values and where we are choosing to put our energy and resources.

Why are we here at the Unitarian Universalist Community of Charlotte?


Those are active verbs. We are here to do something together.

How do I know that those verbs are what UUCC is here to do? Because our mission is:

Challenged by our liberating faith, we discover deeper spiritual meaning, nurture loving community, cultivate courageous connections, and partner in the work of justice.

That’s compelling. And you, here at UUCC, have also created a comprehensive vision and ends statements that give you more information about how you will work together to live that mission. We’ll talk more about those another day.

Your mission is one of the clearest and most actionable mission statements I’ve seen.

A clear and actionable Mission gets people curious to learn more about who you are – because it makes them think of who they could be if they were part of the community. And once they’re in, it makes a huge difference to whether they stay. So it’s important that you know what your mission is so that you can truly engage and live into it.

Which brings me to Rev. Debus’s column. She asks the question,

“Why do you think people in 2023 are coming to your congregation? What do you think they are seeking?”

Take a moment now to think about that – answer the question in your head. I’d love to hear what you come up with.

My answer? The best growth strategy is to Do Good Ministry. We think of growth as an essential goal in congregational life. We want to get more people in the door and sign the book because we need more people, we need more resources. But growth isn’t a goal. It’s an outcome. Congregations grow because they are doing something compelling, because people need what they have to offer.

According to Rev. Debus,

No one comes to your congregation to take on committee work or head the never-really-got-started campus ministry or restart the faith development program. No one (well, except for one couple I knew in the mid-2000s) comes through your doors and declares not only that they’re moving to your town but that they have been in leadership in the congregation they’re leaving and are ready to take on these roles.

Why do you think people in 2023 are coming to your congregation? What do you think they’re seeking?

Heck, why did you come to your congregation? What were you seeking?

…People do not come to your congregation because they want to do things.

People do not come to your congregation because they want to take over.


…People come to your congregation because they are hurting, or in crisis, or because they are seeking connection to their own spirits, or to other people.

Here’s a really cool thing about your clear and compelling mission statement: People who come here hear it and they know that they can expect to…

… discover deeper spiritual meaning.

… be courageously connected.

… be nurtured in community.

… partner in the work of Justice.

… be challenged by a liberal faith.

Our mission drives everything we do. It’s a collaboratively created and clear statement of our values and how we hope to engage with one another and the world around us. Not for nothing, this is one of the best mission statements I’ve seen. So let’s focus on Doing Good Ministry. Together.

Stay tuned to this spot for more conversation about how our vision and ends factor in to the whole process of Being the UU Community of Charlotte. And I highly recommend reading the entirety of the “More, More, More” column I quoted. It’s good stuff.

March 23, 2023|Tags: , |

Communication Is Key

There are lots of ways to communicate. As a minister, communication of all kinds is core to my work. The most obvious way I do that is by preaching sermons on Sunday mornings. I also submit written reports to the board and various teams, as well as to the congregation as a whole, and I initiate and participate in lots of one on one or small group conversations and meetings.

I’m finding that there are some things that I want to communicate with y’all that aren’t fitting very well into those already established categories. Therefore, this text you are reading is part of an additional communication vehicle that we’ve created to meet that need. Think of it as the “minister’s musings” column in the old-school monthly printed church newsletter. Content will generally be presented in a shorter form than a sermon, and will range from short inspirational poems or reflections to information about the interim tasks and anything in between. You can generally expect at least two posts per month, but there may be more. New posts will be shared in Currents.

To start, I thought I’d remind you of some things I shared in my very first service here – some fun facts that are helpful to know about me and the way I approach my work as a minister.

  • It is always my intention to listen, to reflect, to ask questions, and to collaborate. I approach most questions and problems from a posture of curiosity. There are a few things that I find non-negotiable, like integrity, safety, kindness, and justice, but for the most part, I’m willing to learn new things and see many points of view.
  • I work hard. I will work hard for and with you. And, my family is always a priority. I will also take my days off, vacation, and study leave. It serves nobody (not me, not you) if I overwork. I am accessible in an emergency, and can always be reached multiple ways. But I never get my work emails on my phone, and Monday is my day off, and I keep it sacred – I don’t check emails at all.
  • I learned a lot of useful skills in my ministry training. Omniscience was not one of them. If you want me to know something – if you’re sick and need support, or if you are upset about something I said, or if you hope I will do a certain thing, you must communicate directly with me.
  • I have strong opinions and I’m not afraid to speak my mind – I AM a woman over 40, after all! That said, it is never my intent to be unkind or dismissive of others – if you are hearing something that I’ve said as antagonistic or challenging, let me know, and we’ll talk about it.
  • And finally, (for now) a core value of my ministry is that as a person of faith, I am called to fight injustice and support equity & compassion wherever I can. What this means in practice is that I’m not only thinking about justice & equity when I’m at a protest or action. I do my best to apply those values to my Sunday service planning, to my interactions with staff & congregants, to everything that I do.

I have so enjoyed getting to know so many of you in the time since August – which seems both forever and like no time at all. If we haven’t had a chance to sit down and have a chat yet, don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule an appointment at your convenience.

Until next time,


March 16, 2023|Tags: |
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