The following was an email correspondence between me and a congregant. I reference it in my Sunday message on Feb 25, 2018. I share it with permission as a resource.
Subject: Thoughts on Reaping our Blessings
I am so grateful to our Unity for the teachings I have received. To continue this process moving forward, I selfishly would like to see our amazing resources working together by –
Reverend Carolyne and Reverend Marj, as they are able, have the time and inclination to do so –
- Contribute to our monthly newsletter – angel advice column, recipes, book reviews, personal growth assignments – whatever rings their bells;
- Contribute to our Interim and Final Ministerial selection – maybe they are already doing so behind the scenes, but they both have tremendous knowledge of both our campus and the candidates from which to choose;
- monthly classes;
- input to the guest speakers;
- anything else that calls their names.
This process could bring much healing to all of us, as well as elevate the consciousness of all.
I believe the Unity International concept of banning an outgoing minister from campus comes from hierarchical (avoiding the world patriarchal) organizations, such as the military or educational systems. My family’s experience in the business, legal, and diplomatic world is a more democratic one. Networking is the key. As one staff member leaves, more pollination takes place. We remain close.
From: Carolyne Mathlin
Subject: Re: Thoughts on Reaping our Blessings
I so appreciate your deep need and desire for healing and elevating consciousness. I love that you are looking for what feels like the both/and of forging a path forward while staying connected to our past (which includes our ministers). Since you’ve included me in this email I’d love to share with you my perspective on this whole idea of what healthy leaving looks like and why some of the components you are particularly questioning are, from my perspective, critically important to the healing and evolution of us all.
No matter whether a minister serves within a minister-centric, community-centric, or mission-centric model, one of a minister’s roles is to provide spiritual guidance and visionary direction to a ministry as well as individual congregants. It’s a powerful, sacred leadership role. And the truth is, that once a minister of a church, always a minister of a church. Even when the official role ends, the trust in spiritual leadership that has been cultivated within a community continues. Ministers are natural leaders with ideas, opinions and perspectives that are unique to them and the way they do ministry. If you combine those 2 factors: being a leader and being in a place where you have lead, the natural tendency would be to continue to lead just as you have in the past. I know the part of me that will have opinions about what’s happening, what should be different, how I would do it, etc. That’s not helpful for me, the new minister(s) or for the ministry as a whole. It creates a dual leadership within the ministry that splits the energy between what has been and what might be in the future. There are rare cases when it might work. And, given where Unity of Tustin is now, I don’t see it working for me to stay and be involved in any way.
I love, support and trust the wisdom of the Board, staff, leadership and community to know that they have all the skills they / you need to navigate these times. There are resources available and other amazing ministers just waiting to come be a part of Unity of Tustin. I will offer to be a resource as appropriate for the new minister, but will wait for him/her to call me. It’s an exciting time for Unity of Tustin to honor the past and create/ evolve into the future. I want to fully support that forward movement.
I also know that, for myself, I’m ready to move on. I will of course miss my beloved Unity of Tustin. It’s been literally my family of origin. I played in the orange grove before there were any of the modern buildings. I attended sleep overs in Victoria House and camped on the lawn. I’ve marked through ceremony the passing of my dad, grandmother and mother as well as my licensing and ordination as a Unity minister. Most of my intimate, deep friendships were forged and have been sustained through my involvement with Unity of Tustin. I’ve shared sacred moments with congregants as they have cried, laughed, struggled and been transformed through spiritual practice and teachings. My life has been Unity of Tustin. I hold it all as sacred and cherish it deeply, even the incredibly tough times. All that being said, I don’t feel the need to hold on or try to recreate or live in the past. Those memories are and will always be alive in my heart. For me to hang on and continue to participate as if nothing has changed is a false premise. When I complete my service as Senior Minister at Unity of Tustin on April 15 something will fundamentally change in my relationship with the community. And to pretend otherwise is to do just that, pretend. What I think is important to remember is that this change doesn’t negate the depth and beauty that we’ve shared. It acknowledges that we are complete with this part of our journey together. That’s why I feel so committed to ending well. Because we will never have this moment again. I see my leaving as my final spiritual teaching, a gift to myself and this ministry.
I love you, Unity of Tustin and this beautiful process we are inside of now. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my heart with you.