There’s an old song I like, by Michelle Shocked, that goes:
The secret to a long life is knowing when it’s time to go.
I thought of that song, in a sort of humorous way, after the recent UUCY Board retreat at which I informed the board that I’m not planning to renew my contract again when it expires at the end of June, making this my last year as your half-time Minister. I’ve thought long and hard about this decision, and it is not an easy one to make, yet I feel it is the right decision.
Ms. Shocked’s song is about an outlaw named Billy who always stays one step ahead of the law, so in that sense the song is not very relevant at all – for I don’t feel like I’m on the lam. I’m completing my tenth year here at UUCY, which is a good tenure for a part-time Minister, and represents only the second time in our congregation’s history (as I understand it) that we’ve had a Minister serving for a whole decade. That is, I think, something to celebrate! It’s been a good decade.
For family reasons I’m not planning to leave Yakima in the near future, so I will be looking for work here and will, on some level, continue to be involved in the greater Yakima community. Some of you know that for the last few months I’ve been doing contract work for the nonprofit Justice Housing Yakima, and my hope is to continue and broaden my work in the nonprofit field in the future. Some of you also know that I’m also contracted ¼ time with the Kittitas Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Ellensburg, and for the time being I hope to continue in that role. I have professional obligations that stipulate that as a departing Minister I will not be involved in any way in the congregation for some time, and will not have any “pastoral” contact with people at UUCY. So when I inevitably bump into some of you around town, I won’t engage in any conversation about the church or engage with anything that may fall into the realm of a Ministerial role. But I’ll sure enjoy saying “hi” and hearing and sharing how things are going!
I will say more in the coming months about why I’ve made this decision and what I believe will be good next steps for the congregation to take. I also plan to continue, for the next five months, to be involved in the congregation and to do my best to fulfill my duties as your Minister. It’s not time to say good-bye just yet – we still have work to do and mystery and wonder to take in together. I hope we can have some fun doing so.