Torch Column: In the Life

13 March 2017

“There are places I remember…” So begins the Beatles song, “In My Life.” As someone who grew up in a military family I developed the habit of living in multiple worlds at once. I always seem to be looking over my shoulder at the place I’ve most recently been, while simultaneously seeking to ground myself firmly where I am and scanning the horizon for what comes next. It wasn’t as nerve-wracking as it may sound to folks who’re more stationary, but I grew up with a subconscious awareness that I never knew how long we’d be somewhere or where we’d go next. And when folks would ask, “Where are you from?” my answer was always wherever we’d most recently been stationed. Our family was always stationed stateside, so my answers were as exotic as Louisana, North Dakota and Colorado - never places like Germany or Guam. We moved around less than many in the military and more than some. But my parents were always eager to find assignments that would give us a sense of stability and bring us into closer proximity with extended family. The result: I have a list of places that have been home. I have a capacity to form meaningful connections fairly quickly. “Moving on” is a natural part of life for me. I have learned how to say goodbye.

A few weeks ago Rev. Tom Goldsmith announced that he and Board had developed a strategy for funding the Congregational Life Minister position for another year and into the future beyond that. This is great news for First Church! You have warmly welcomed me and collaborated creatively about how to better integrate newcomers at First Church, how to provide more robust support for youth and their families. You are ready, I believe, to integrate another minister on a long-term basis into the life of First Church. Kudos to you!

I am not that minister. Though I have treasured (and will continue to treasure) the connections and relationships we have forged here, I joined the First Church staff team with an eye towards two years of service so that I could join my spouse after a year of a commuter marriage while he was in a PhD program at the University of Utah. Ultimately that academic program was not to Chad’s liking and we plan to move on after this second year with you - hoping to return to Seattle (where we were before Salt Lake City). I have come to value the unique qualities and gifts of Salt Lake City and of First Church. The beauty and power of this place and you, as a people, are not lost on me. This area and this movement need First Church and its unique ministries more than ever. You are well-poised for your next steps during this critical time in this country and the global village we share.

As per best practices in ministry, I will keep a distance from First Church after my departure. I will refrain from discussing church business when I leave, though will be available to church leadership for consultation as needed regarding any lingering work. It is important to allow space for you to develop a new relationship with whoever comes next and for me to focus my energies on my next ministry, whatever that is. Please know that I will be rejoicing whenever I hear news of the good work you continue in this place. Rev. Tom Goldsmith will have my contact information if needed and will also carry any good news to you of my future ministries. I already feel embraced by the warmth and caring of this community and know that will encircle me as I continue in future endeavors.

For now, though, we’ve got more work to do! I look forward to continuing to build the infrastructure that will welcome newcomers, support youth and families and better integrate the life of First Church for effective and collaborative ministries that build a just and progressive world!

Here’s to The Work!

Peace, Faith & Passion,

More from Matthew

Seeking the Sources - Monday, March 27, 6:45-8:45 p.m. in room 201. Join Rev. Matthew and other seekers for this monthly drop-in session that includes movement, meditation and inquiry. This month we explore the fifth source, “Humanist teachings that counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.” Wear comfy clothes and bring your favorite meditation and yoga supplies.

Youth Ministry - Mark your calendars for the annual Youth-Led service on Sunday, April. 2. First Church’s high school youth (grades 10-12) will explore the seven principles in word and music at both 9 and 11 o’clock services. It’s always a treat!

Rev. Matthew Out of Town - I’ll be participating in a colleague’s installation in Rhode Island and will be out of town the weekend of March 24-27. Don’t worry, I’ll be back in time for Seeking the Sources on 3/27.

Hospitality & Membership - Informal Info Sessions April 2 - New to First Church or Unitarian Universalism? Join Rev. Matthew, Hospitality leaders and other newcomers for drop-in info sessions following the 9 and 11 a.m. services on Sunday, April 2. Meet Rev. Matthew at the piano following services.