From the UUA President: Take a break and find some joy!

By Susan Frederick-Gray

Dear friends,

I cannot wait to be with you at the upcoming General Assembly (GA) starting next Wednesday, June 23rd! If you have not already, register online today.

I remember from my time as a parish minister that GA was an exciting chance to connect with UUs from around the country and the world. It also filled me with ideas for books to read, sermon topics to explore, and new programs to try. It also marked a time of transition. The end of another congregational year and a time when the calendar slowed, and the many demands of congregational leadership eased. I usually took vacation and study leave time immediately following GA. This time off was invaluable. Leaders need rest—whether we are lay leaders or congregational staff. And after a year like we’ve just experienced, it is crucial that we all have some much-needed time off.

Those of us who are committed to ministry and service can sometimes forget that an important part of our job is to also take care of ourselves.

I am following my own advice. I am taking time off after GA. I am also taking a break from these regular messages until the end of summer. I am excited to spend time with family and loved ones and give myself permission to “stargaze” without a calendar filled with wall-to-wall meetings and activities. Those of us who are committed to ministry and service can sometimes forget that an important part of our job is to also take care of ourselves. We leaders need time for creativity and imagination, to recharge and renew, and to rediscover the inspiration essential for relevant and dynamic ministry.

Last summer, many of our volunteer and religious professional leaders were so consumed by the challenges of transitioning to virtual operations that they never took time off. I urge you to do so this summer, and to make sure those you lead and those you work with can do the same.

Rest is critical for the quality and sustainability of our work. And renewal requires more than simply not working. It takes positive energy to “recharge our batteries.” It means pursuing activities that bring joy and spark our creativity and intellect in new ways. Hike through a national park. Putter in your garden. Try new recipes. Play games. Visit museums and amusement parks that are open again. Sit on the porch in a favorite chair with that pile of books you’ve been meaning to read.

In quiet moments, make space for the sadness and loss of these last months and rejoice in the blessings and successes. There remains much work ahead to nurture love and justice in our world. And I have faith that we will find ourselves renewed by taking time away from work. We will be reminded of our wholeness as human beings and our resiliency of spirit. And we can take stock of what has been. After a year and a half of guiding our communities through unprecedented times and learning to reinvent our work, we will again be ready to face the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Yours in love,

Susan

P.S. In my last leader’s message, I shared details about the many wonderful events and activities to look forward to at GA.

About the Author

Susan Frederick-Gray

The Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray began her six-year term as president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in June 2017. As president of the Association, she is responsible for administering staff and programs that serve its more than 1,000 member congregations. She also acts as...

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