“In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer
Welcome to The Path of Change!
This is, aptly, our monthly focus theme from Soul Matters.
Transitional ministry is all about pathways for change, and my oh my, have we been on a journey! UCV members, friends and staff have embraced the opportunities presented by the challenges and changes of these past couple of years, and this congregation is filled with promise and energy, as well as with a healthy dose of continued grief, resistance and skepticism, and all of this is normal, as normal as anything gets these days.
There is good reason to be optimistic about the start of this program year. People are back from a summer of traveling and reconnecting with loved ones. Staff are rested and brimming with new ideas. Many children have been vaccinated, and a more predictable school year seems likely. We are coming out of pandemic mayhem. However, a more robust start up to the new program year is not a signal that we have arrived at “the” new normal. We are still in a liminal season—and need to lead accordingly.
Liminal seasons have three distinct phases:
- Separation: A period in which order is stripped away from organizational structures, practices, and identity. The old way stops working.
- Liminal Period: A disorienting period of non-structure that opens new possibilities. New identities are explored, and new possibilities are considered.
- Reorientation: A re-forming period, in which new structures and practices emerge that are better suited to an emerging identity.
It is tempting to believe that we completed the entire liminal cycle during the pandemic, and that we are ready for reorientation now.
Remember, this liminal season began well before the pandemic arrived and it is driven by other disorienting forces. We are amidst a climate crisis, a racial justice reckoning, political polarization and a host of other factors causing institutions to deconstruct and reorient. We are living through a cultural transformation, the outcome of which is still unknowable.
This does not mean we can’t be energized and hopeful. There is much to be excited about. At the same time, we cannot naively return to the old ways of being church. This is a season that calls for ongoing disturbance, continued innovation, and the discovery of new coherence.
Rev. Lara Cowtan, Interim Minister