BOARD SERVICE & LEADERSHIP
I was the Board Chair from 2006-08 in my home congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan, KS, during which time we celebrated our 50th anniversary and paid off all remaining debt from our capital campaign. I have been an ongoing ex-officio member of the JUC Board, including partnering with board members to revamp orphaned standing rules following a governance change. At First Universalist I serve as an ex-officio member of the Board and head of ministry team staff.
SABBATICAL SENIOR MINISTER
During my senior minister's sabbatical leave in 2017 I was the lead minister, responsible for all staff and operations supervision, as well as Sunday services that would have otherwise been filled by her preaching.
Ever since I was received into Final Fellowship (now called Full Fellowship) I have been eligible to supervise intern ministers in our Association. I have been the supervising minister for three ministers in training during that time. You can read the charge to the minister I delivered to the Rev. Kim Mason upon her installation and ordination to lead the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis here.
The Larger Association
In Service to Our Faith
During my time as a professional minister I have served as treasurer for the Mountain Desert District chapter of the UU Ministers Association, been a Living Into Covenant advisor and leader for seminarians in our area, was a founding member of the Unitarian Universalists for Racial Justice (UURJ) metro Denver collaborative, and have taught our seminarians about governance at Iliff School of Theology.
Safety Team Lead
In 2017 we realized there was a need to have a standing safety team at our congregation to address the wide range of risks that occur daily in church life. From our humble beginnings considering questions about the number and locations of fire extinguishers, to implementing whole new safety rules to protect children and youth from potential predators, this team consulted with congregational experts, law enforcement officials, our church insurance company, and more. Over the last two years our focus has largely been on helping advise the lay and ministerial leadership about how best to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, including when to end, and when to resume, in-person services.
A Newsletter Column, Fall 2021
I’m glad to be back from a time of sabbatical leave, and grateful for that time away from the dailiness of church life. Ever since I got back, people have been asking me “Eric, what did you do while you were away?” The answers are many, but as we enter into a month focused on cultivating relationship, I find myself focusing in on something that I can honestly say I didn’t even know I needed until it happened. Something I honestly didn’t know we needed.
Some of you know that when my wife & I got together we started out from day one as parents. Our oldest turned four shortly after we started seeing each other, and every 7 years we just added another little one to the family. That meant that in some ways we’d never really had the time to just be the two of us, together, without kids, for an extended period. But last June we took the time to travel to Costa Rica. We told ourselves that we were there to learn Spanish. To immerse ourselves in the language in a way we just couldn’t in our daily life. Our children weren’t vaccinated, so they stayed home, thanks to the gracious help of their older sister (home from college) and a grandma, and we headed out.
For those magical two weeks we could walk, and talk, fail at surfing, scuba dive with sharks and rays, and let the night wear on without worrying about bedtime or who would be willing to eat what for dinner. We saw each other in a way that had, for a long time, been slowly covered over, one small piece at a time, by commitments and ideas we’d taken on, until we’d practically become ships in the night. We trusted that our love was enough, that it would hold us together, and it has. But there was wear and tear at the edges, the seams were showing their ages.
Too often we hear the message that what relationships take is love, and just the right person, and “we’ll all live happily ever after.” But what we were reminded of in that time was that it’s too easy for the garden of our relationship to be overgrown with bindweeds, rooted deep, and wrapping themselves over the stalks of the flowers we once planted. It takes cultivating, trimming away the things that don’t serve us, or never did, or don’t anymore. It takes time and saying “We commit to tending to our relationship.” It takes investing in it, just as surely as we’re investing in our children’s college savings accounts or our retirement accounts. It takes counting on each other, and investing in each other.
That’s not as easy a story to tell as “We met, we fell in love, we overcame adversity, and now it’s smooth sailing on past the horizon,” but it’s the one that we all need to be telling. That when it comes to the people and the relationships that matter the most, that we’re taking time, and even money, and putting it to work.
Coming out of those weeks we’ve renewed our vows, even if we didn’t stand on a beach in front of family and friends to say them out loud. We’ve said them to each other, and I hope that for the people in your life, you’re doing the same. Tomorrow is never assured, but as an author I recently read put it, the future isn’t a place we go to, it’s a place we’re building, every day.
Stay well, love deeply, and I can’t wait to see you sometime soon,