With joy and gratitude I write to share with you the news of my next steps in ministry. I have accepted an invitation to join the Spiritual Care Team of Salmon Creek Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington, as a Chaplain. Though pastoral care has been a minimal part of my formal portfolio at First Church it has long been a passion and one of the most rewarding and inspiring paths of ministry for me. I am not only deeply relieved to know where Chad and I will land - as we had hoped, returning to the Pacific Northwest which so nourished us - but also grateful and humbled to be invited into this work in a medical center where spiritual care is well-integrated into the life of the institution.
Hospitals, like much of the world, are on a different timetable than churches, and Salmon Creek is no different. As such, I will begin my employment with them on May 15. Though this is one full month earlier than my anticipated June 15 end date with you here at First Church, I intend to finish well with you, wrapping up projects, transitioning leadership teams for the continued work of building Beloved Community that fulfills the mission of the church: to nurture and challenge the spiritual and intellectual journey for all generations and to actively engage in building a progressive and just world. My last day on-site at First Church will be Thursday, May 11.
I look forward to opportunities to say good goodbyes to as many of you as possible in the coming weeks. Our remaining time together will be short and full, given that Chad and I will be spending several days of early April (April 7-12) in our new city seeking housing. Chad will remain here to complete his teaching contract at the American International School of Utah until early June when we will make our final move.
The wisdom I have gleaned from my previous work in chaplaincy as well as transitional ministry has taught me that there are four important elements of leavetaking:
Offering thanks for the gifts of shared life.
Offering apology for shortcomings and faults.
Offering forgiveness and acceptance for the same.
In that spirit, then, I thank you for your generous welcome and inclusion in the life and ministries of First Church and in your lives, individually. I have been blessed to journey alongside this community and many of you, personally, during times of joy, celebration and struggle. You have taught me much about the power of politically and socially relevant ministry. Your aspirations and dedication are an inspiration that will continue to nourish not only you and this place but also me as I move on in ministry.
I apologize for the ways I may have fallen short in my charge here. I have at times allowed myself to become unfocused and absorbed in the complexities of this vibrant and active place. I have cast too narrow a vision at times of the radical welcome and hospitality of which you are capable and of the opportunities for deeper, richer adult religious education experiences.
I accept and release you to continue to be and to become more fully who you are as a community. I know my style of ministry is different and has at times clashed with some elements of the culture of this place in its worship and work.
Finally, I love you. I love the activist spirit of this place. I cherish your tenacity of spirit, your 126-year history and your determination to continue to be a force for liberal and liberating religion in this Valley and beyond. You are, indeed, a blessing.
I wish you all the very best in your continued journey as you grow into your emerging vision of ministry together. It has been an honor to be part of First Church.
Here’s to The Work, Friends.
Peace, Faith & Passion,
Rev. Matthew Cockrum
Consulting Minister for Congregational Life
More from Matthew
Consulting the Consultant - On Saturday, February 25, over 60 congregants of the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, Utah, joined Consulting Minister, Rev. Matthew Cockrum and the Congregational Life Minister Support Team (Christine Ashworth, Philip Moos and John Rasmuson), for a session of feedback, reflection and strategizing for next steps. Rev. Tom Goldsmith and Support Team members shared briefly about the need for and creation of the Minister for Congregational Life position. For a copy of the notes from that meeting, please click here or pick up a paper copy in the office.
Seeking the Sources on 4/24, 6:45-8:45 p.m. Room 201 - LAST SESSION - Join Rev. Matthew and other seekers for a final session of Seeking the Sources. Come dressed for meditation and movement. We will explore our sixth source: Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
UU Orientation Session - Tuesday, May 9, 7-9 p.m. - Newcomers to First Church and/or Unitarian Universalism, please join Revs. Tom Goldsmith and Matthew Cockrum along with other newcomers and congregational leaders to explore your questions and some possible answers about what you can expect of First Church and what First Church can expect of you! RSVP with number in your party and child care needs to or 801.582.8687 ext. 205.