Pastoral Letter to First Unitarian Denver

Several people have asked me recently, “How are you doing, knowing that Rev. Beth is leaving?” The short answer is, “Well, I wish she wasn’t!” But that’s only a small piece of the real answer. Rev. Beth has done good work with us. Her style and strengths are different than mine, her ministry reaches and speaks to different people and our congregation has grown in diversity. The majority of her work has been in areas of community life that in the past haven’t received enough ministerial attention, mostly because there was never enough of one minister to go around. Having those areas cared-for has allowed me to focus more on my own strengths. For so many reasons, First Unitarian has become a stronger and better congregation with her presence.

And, it is time for her to be a full-time instead of a part-time minister. This is something we are not able to offer, and it makes perfect sense that she has accepted such a ministry at University UU Church in Seattle. She will do well in her future settlement, I thank her for her work and time with us, and I wish her blessings and success in the years ahead.

And, as you probably know, First Unitarian will not be funding or filling the Assistant Minister position for at least another year. There are many reasons for this, some of which have to do with the Building Renovation. This leads to the other comment I’ve heard a few times around the church lately. “Why are we doing a building renovation project when we can’t even afford to keep Rev. Beth?” This is an excellent question and understandable sentiment.

The answer is that right now, we simply have to balance the short-term with the long-term needs of First Unitarian.

n the Long Range Plan passed unanimously two years ago, the community decided that we were committed to this urban ministry, at this location, in this facility. The community of First Unitarian was quite clear that we want to continue being what we have been for so many years, an urban sanctuary of liberal religion, inclusion, sanity, and social justice in Capitol Hill. You have undoubtedly noticed that stones are literally falling off the front steps, and when we took that vote, we understood that would mean investing in the building.

That’s what the Building Renovation is about: investing in the long term viability of First Unitarian, so that our beautiful building is still here and still thriving long into the future.

Without a doubt, the time will come again when we will be able to hire a second minister. But if we don’t invest in this facility, there will be no First Unitarian for that future ministry to happen. In truth, it’s not really a choice. If we’re staying in this location, and we are, we have to invest in our building before we can grow the staff.

So, “How am I doing?” I’m doing great! I will miss Rev. Beth and I wish her every happiness. I’m excited about the plans for the building, and so grateful for all the hard work that’s gone into the project so far. I’m excited for the possibilities here at First Unitarian, and I’m looking forward to the day we will have a renewed facility, AND a new second minister. I’m excited that we will be on this journey together.

In faith,

Mike Morran

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