Goodbye from Rev. Elizabeth

rev elizabeth bukeyI can hardly believe that my time here at Chalice is coming to a close. I am so grateful for the three years I’ve spent here; you have been an important part of my growth as a minister. I will cherish memories of this congregation as well as the skills (and songs!) I have learned from all of you.

I will remember going through a social justice discernment process with you and the UU Justice Ministry of California. I will remember countless social justice forums and workshops and town halls, and the way you so often brought your curiosity, your passion, and your broken hearts to our justice work. I will remember the hours with the social justice policy task force, faithfully considering the best processes for taking public positions on matters of public policy. I will remember video meetings while my dog jumped off camera and your cats walked on the keyboard.

I will remember greeting and welcoming new members with you. Brainstorming. Reading your connection cards and candle cards. I’ll remember the power of officiating at memorial services and a child dedication, laughing and crying at Cabaret, and being with you through conflict, illness, and grief.

I will remember your thoughtful engagement with sermons, your willingness to participate in interactive worship, and your fondness for parties, feather boas, and theater.

I’ll remember your singing.

I want to leave you with a charge: live fully into your mission and vision and make room for others within it. Chalice has something special to offer North County San Diego: a liberal religious community that is music-filled, caring, and welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender folks. Don’t hide that light under a bushel. During my time here, we have together wrestled with the puzzle of how to grow the number of Chalice congregants, and how church growth happens in general. Do we need to do more outreach? Expand parking? Explain our activities more clearly?

As far as I know, the answer is both yes and no. Those things are helpful. But I believe that churches that grow numerically are led by mission, and by a sense that incorporating newcomers into congregational life is a key part of that mission. This happens structurally, through programs, but also interpersonally, one-to-one, in moments beyond initial warm conversations with first-time guests. Keep thinking: how can you welcome someone new to the congregation into your favorite part of Chalice? How could you nurture a relationship with someone you don’t know yet? What would happen if you connected with someone who is “different” from most of your friends, and approached that connection with an open heart?

None of this is easy. As I’ve said, the thing about change is that it…requires change. For Chalice to grow, it needs to hold on to the core of its mission while letting go of patterns which no longer serve, or which work better for those with privilege than with those at the margins. It requires being, as the hymn goes, “willing to be changed by what we’ve started.” Growth is hard, messy, confusing work. But you can do it. I have faith in your warmth, your curiosity, and your open hearts, and your care for the Chalice community.

With gratitude,
Rev. Elizabeth