Litany for Outgoing Leaders

Leader: Today we mark the turning of a season. We mark it with the ritual exchange of flowers. We mark it with the election of new leaders and our annual business meeting. And right now, in this moment, we mark it with celebration of outgoing leaders.
[Invite outgoing leaders forward] There is a cycle to life. Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end. This is true of life, it is true of communities, and yes, it is true even of leadership positions!
And so let us honor this cycle of leadership transition with a shared litany. Members of the congregation, your line is: "For this we thank you." [Let’s practice that – repeat after me: For this we thank you]

Leader: You, dear leaders: you have served us well. And: (gesture to congregation)

Congregation: For this we thank you.

Leader: Several of you are leaving leadership positions that you held through the last years of ministerial transitions. You have held steady for so long, now you are handing over the reins that you have so carefully held and tended. And:

Congregation: For this we thank you.

Leader: Several of you are at the end of your board terms. You have been thoughtful leaders and stewards of this congregation.

Congregation: For this we thank you.

Leader: You have attended endless meetings, written countless emails, recruited dozens of volunteers, edited innumerable E-News issues..[edit for any specific roles of outgoing leaders] You have brought a spirit of dedication, your love, and a deep abiding faith in the growing, evolving, spiritual community that is this Society.

Congregation: For this we thank you.

Leader: By your service, you have helped nurture and meet our needs for personal spiritual growth, inspirational worship and a mutually caring community. You have helped us devote ourselves to religious learning for all ages, embrace human diversity by welcoming individuals and families of all kinds, and join with the larger community to promote love, justice and service to society.

Congregation: For this we thank you.

Leader: And in the next month or so, you are ending these commitments that you have held with such care. Each ending is also a beginning. The beginning of a new role, perhaps the beginning of a time when you can simply BE here – in worship and community, beginning of a time of renewal. We trust that you will find the right way to nurture your spirit and serve this community.

Congregation: For this we thank you.

Outgoing leaders: We know that our lives have been and always will be richer for having served in this role. We are grateful to have served, and grateful that others will now fill some of our shoes. For the opportunity to serve, WE thank YOU! And for the opportunity to take off these leadership hats, we thank you.

Leader: To all those sitting in the pews: YOU too have opportunities for endings and beginnings. May this litany serve as a reminder that we all have the ability and obligation to say Yes to service in this community, and also to say Yes to stepping down after a time—even if it seems there is no one else to take your place! May each of you here accept an invitation to say Yes to a new opportunity for service, YES to an opportunity to nurture your spirit, and, perhaps, YES to an ending of your own. We trust that you will find the right way to nurture your spirit and serve this community.

Outgoing leaders: For this WE thank YOU.
[and finally:]
Congregation: For this we thank you.

About the Author

Cathy Rion Starr

Rev. Cathy Rion Starr (they/them/theirs) is a queer & genderqueer white minister, organizer, and parent of 2 amazing kiddos. Cathy coordinates the Volunteer Squads with the Side With Love Action Center and is married to Rev. Heather Rion Starr, the settled minister of the UUs of Southern Delaware.

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