by the Rev. Barbara Threet
A September newsletter: summer must be winding down, and autumn approaching! Summer at UUCGF is slower, of course, but not dormant. There have been several summer services, and several committees and the Board have continued to meet. We’ve continued discussions about how to deal with the space left from cutting down the trees to provide enough light for our solar panels. And now, we’re busily planning for the 2019-20 church year – possible Sunday speakers, special social events and fund-raisers, and continued improvements to our property.
This church year will include a change for me that you should know about. I’m delighted to be entering my third year as your minister, of course, this year at ¼ time. And this will be my fourth year serving the UU Church of Rutland as their 3/8-time minister. This year, I’ve also agreed to serve as the 1/3 time minister for the UU Fellowship of Bennington. And yes, when you add up all those fractions, you get almost 100%. So what can I say about serving part-time at three different churches? One might even ask – didn’t I resign from full-time ministry a few years back?
Well, part-time ministry (even in three churches at once) is significantly different from being full time. Many of the responsibilities of full-time ministry simply are not in a part-time minister’s portfolio. I don’t write over 30 completely new sermons each year, or teach a class with entirely new content each year. I don’t supervise any staff (there were 6 -7 staff members in Melrose). I meet regularly with the Board, Pastoral Care, and the Committee on Ministry, but I don’t usually attend other committees or task forces. I’m not physically in the church five or six days a week, so I’m not the default person to deal with repair people or check that the faucet’s left dripping on cold nights. I don’t regularly represent the church in civic events or at UU venues. And I have no relationship with tenants, space management or rentals.
What I do, as a part-time minister, is to preach on a regular basis – first Sunday in Bennington, second in Rutland, third in Glens Falls, and half the time, back in Rutland for the fourth Sunday. Around 40% of my sermons are completely new, about 10% are almost identical to ones I’ve preached before, and the rest are significantly reworked from earlier sermons I’ve given. I do reuse sermons from church to church, with varying amounts of adaptation. I spend a few days around each of those Sundays in the community, attending Board meetings and a few other committees (these vary from church to church), doing some pastoral care, teaching classes, and meeting with congregants and church officers as requested. Any major social events (Circle Dinners, Auction, etc.) are held over weekends when I’ll be in town. I’m in regular contact by email, especially with Board Presidents. In Glens Falls, of course, I’m part of the Board/Minister/Congregation conversation after the pot-luck on the second Sundays, when I’m already in town to preach. And when needed, I make special trips for emergencies or for meetings to address specific short-term needs of the church: as I look back over my calendar, I’ve been in both Glens Falls and Rutland about once or twice each month in addition to the regularly scheduled days. But there’s a lot that a part-time minister just doesn’t do, as compared to full-time.
What will this change mean for UUCGF? I’ll be less available to attend events on weekends when I’m not scheduled to preach. It may be easier to exchange lay speakers with Bennington. There may be some combined event(s) with Bennington and/or Rutland. But mostly, I’ll just be busier, with another small, rural UU congregation, of the sort that I really enjoy serving. I’m looking forward to all three! See you in September!
Shalom and Salaam,