Learning During a Pandemic:
I began my ministry at All Souls Unitarian Church of Indianapolis during the first year of the pandemic. We learned at first how to hold worship services and committee meetings that were both in-person and by Zoom. I also learned how to use zoom for the deeply relational interim work the congregation needed and to keep the congregation connected and engaged.
Although the pandemic required a shift in the interim priorities, the congregation was still able to advance significantly during my tenure. We created a culture of shared ministry for All Souls and the adoption of a new policy governance system with clearer lines of authority and accountability.
The congregation also renewed its commitment to anti-racism and multiculturalism, and that lead to its decision to share its facilities with a Headstart program for the children of migrant agricultural workers. Income grew 17% under my ministry, including grants from the Lilly Foundation and new rental income.
Through 28 years in ministry I have been lucky to co-minister with some fantastic religious educators. I've learned from them that the quality of a staff's working relationships will model for their congregation how everyone can minister together.
When a congregation ministers together, everything changes. A UU youth expressed it best in her senior year youth service sermon: "At church I'm real. I'm seen as a person." She was real in church classrooms and in her Youth Group. But she also had real relationships in Sunday services, all-church potlucks, and weeding the church's food pantry gardens with the rest of the congregation.
Rev. Joel Miller