Dear Unity of Santa Barbara Friend,
For the past year, you have welcomed Rev. Cathy and me in to your spiritual community as transitional ministers. As most of you know, Rev. Cathy will continue to serve you in the months ahead until your new long-term minister arrives. For me, however, April 26th was my last Sunday with you (although these days, I always feel I need to add “as far as I know”). In May, I will begin a new assignment at Unity Church of Christianity in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and will be with them for at least six months.
It has been an honor to serve you and to support the healing that has happened here over the past twelve months. To address the issues that you asked me to address, I led a series of one-day workshops focused on raising consciousness, promoting emotional and spiritual maturity, and learning “best practices” for how to maintain congregational health.
One theme throughout our time together was on making Unity of Santa Barbara a “blame free zone.” Another was on constantly reminding ourselves that the Holy Spirit is in charge and all is well. Here are the workshops we did:
1. Claiming Our Divine Heritage
Included in this workshop was a focus on The Prayer of Transformation, practicing knowing our oneness with each other (including that everyone here is our mirror), and how to change old, limiting decisions we had made about ourselves.
2. The “I” of the Storm
Here, we worked on taking the idea of “no one and nothing against us” to a deeper level, more fully claiming our divine power of creation, and getting more comfortable with conflict.
3. Leadership and Creating a Sustainable Ministry
In this one, we focused on leadership skills, developing trust with each other, and moving from a “minister centric” to a “mission centric” ministry.
4. Anger and Forgiveness
Here, people learned what happens when they don’t own their anger and unconsciously get even instead. They worked on getting more comfortable with this powerful emotion, and they learned how to experience deep forgiveness as a way to change their current-day experiences for the better.
5. Honoring Our Past, Creating Our Future
This was where we all get very clear on what unresolved issues are still a part of the culture of the ministry. A big part of the day was devoted to creating a plan of action to resolve these issues, with various people accepting leadership of parts of this plan.
6. Mission, Vision, and Core Values
We asked the question of ourselves, “What is Spirit calling us to be and do now?” Then, a new vision, a new mission statement, and a new set of core values were created. Also, at this workshop, several people (Carol Lazar, Ani Ahavah, and Bob Vitamante) agreed to create a set of actions that correspond to each core value.
Having values without acting on them is, of course, meaningless. For example, if one of our core values is “love”, (which it is), how do we “walk that talk?” This list of “core value actions” is one I encourage each of you to read, print, and post on your refrigerator at home. Here is a link to that list.
7. Finally, for good measure, we did a workshop on Raising Our Self-Esteem. Here, we focused on learning and practicing how to treat ourselves as the precious, deserving beings we are. As we do, it forms the basis for our ability to extend that love to everyone.
Your willingness to know yourselves as co-creators of all that has happened in this ministry, and your willingness to create a plan to address the underlying issues have been truly inspiring to me. Please know that I carry you and the wonderful work you have done here with me to my assignment in Tulsa.
I leave you with a reminder of an affirmative prayer I’ve shared with you previously: “God’s perfect plan of good is now established at Unity of Santa Barbara, and I see it.”
Thanks to all of you – Board of Trustees, Staff, Sacred Service Volunteers, Member-Owners, and Friends.
Lots of love from Minnesota,