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Commencement

By Carlton Elliott Smith

Dear Southern Region Friends --

I’m writing to share with you a recent development in my professional life.

As of June 15, I will begin my new position as Lead for the Pacific Western Region (PWR) of our Unitarian Universalist Association.

What Connie Goodbread and Natalie Briscoe have been for the Southern Region for the past few years, I will be for our congregations, ministers, laypeople and staff members in the nation’s 12 most-Western states. That is, I will be responsible for the budgeting, supervision, and priority-setting for the PWR team, among other duties.

As excited and energized as I am by this new opportunity to be of service to our Association and its values, I am aware that we are in the midst of disruptions, suffering and anxieties on a scale we can hardly imagine. At the same time, we find ourselves in the grip of perpetual struggles against violence, dehumanization and environmental degradation.

The journey continues … and I pause for a moment to affirm my time with the Southern Region.

It’s been an unbelievable seven years. In my experience, being Congregational Life Staff has never been quite the same job twice, which I’ve loved. We’ve connected in every Southern Region state. We supported and celebrated the transition from our organization by districts to our identity as a true, unified region within our UUA. We showed up for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama; marched with Rev. William Barber through the streets of Raleigh, North Carolina, and; counter-protested the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. We found ourselves a focal point in a great turning within our faith as we grappled with deep issues of integrity and accountability, leading to the resignations of key leaders in our Association and a dawning of new ways of being. For all of this and more, I am grateful.

Many of you are aware that when I moved from the Washington, DC-area, caring for my mother was a top priority. I came back to Mississippi and took on the role of being her primary caregiver over the last six years of her life. Through it all, I felt the love and support of the Southern Region, and especially from my staff teammates, past and present. In this regard, my appreciation is boundless.

I will virtually move to the Pacific Western Region as of my start date in mid-June -- that is, I will be orienting myself and my schedule toward the Mountain, Pacific, Alaska, and the Hawaii-Aleutian time zones and concerns. The specifics of my physical move date and new location are unclear as we are yet restricted from nonessential travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I’m hoping for opportunities to “float” while in PWR -- to spend months at a time in different locations, allowing for more grounded connections to our folks while reducing my flights and carbon footprint.

I will take all the lessons I’ve learned and all the love I feel from the Southern Region with me to the Pacific Western Region, while holding you all in my heart. I love you! A new journey commences.

In faith,

Carlton

About the Author

Carlton Elliott Smith

Rev. Carlton E. Smith is the Regional Lead for the Pacific Western Region. From 2013 to 2020, he was a member of the UUA Congregational Life Staff Group serving in the Southern Region....

For more information contact sr@uua.org.