I am so happy to be your minister! If you would indulge me, I’d just like to dance to that tune for a moment. It was just luck that brought me to you in the spring of 2010. I had been in search that year and had visited four congregations (Birmingham AL, Sharon MA, Charlotte NC, and Danbury CT) as a pre-candidate. Those interviews had rung no bells for search committees or minister-in-search. And then our District Executive at the time, Andrea Lerner (who just announced her retirement last week, BTW), mentioned that the Stony Brook congregation was looking to hire a Consulting Minister. Here’s how I knew we were a match: Pat Killian gave me a kick-ass tour of spring green woods and harbor waters, grist mill and dirt lane, and a shopping area with a Starbucks, a Trader Joe’s, a movie theatre, and a Whole Foods, less than 1/2 a mile apart. I saw my first Baltimore oriole on a tree limb on the grassy green behind the sanctuary, and he sang to me. Dixie Comeau (the whole committee—wow—but Dixie…), Chinese food, two labyrinths, quilts, windows. We were done.
And then I met all of you and saw what you can do and then I said yes and the Board said yes and then two + years later you called me and we said yes-for-sure-and-ever and I became your settled minister. And I am still finding more things to love about you and more ways to love you back.
I love your sense of worship, your willingness to throw yourself into the flow of the service, to be there, and feel it. I love your wonderful singing as a congregation (Spirit of Life in harmony!). I love your deep bench of artists and composers and multi-instrumentalists and the music you bring to the magic of worship. I love the dedication of a stalwart core of talented leaders who see opportunities and challenges and address them, growing us in so many ways. I love how people pitch in around the edges to set up and clean-up and “man” the tables and roll the fundraisers through their seasons. I love your laughter. I love your tears. I love them wherever I find them: in my office, when I look out at you during worship, when I visit you at home or in the hospital. I love to see the spirit of life wetting your faces, splitting your ribs, inspiring your words on the dais and in the Board room. I love how you play: Easter egg hunt and brunch, Homecoming costumes, couples’ mystery dinner, children’s performances, raucous rehearsals, clever new lyrics for old tunes, the Fighting Unicorns, Mystery buddies, the Auction trips and dinners, the FB records of your journeys. I love your casual dress and your dress-up moments. I love the cards you’ve sent me, the feedback you bravely give me, the stories you tell about how this Fellowship has shaped and saved you. I love how much you care about one another. You go to the funerals; you give and receive shawls made for comfort and celebration; you bring casseroles to the door, give rides, watch the kids; you read to friends who can’t see; you hug and call, check in when someone is MIA. And you fight for what is right. You don’t just sit back when love gets lost in Money and Things and Politics. You speak up, act out, make signs, march, write letters, make calls, ride to Albany, accompany immigrants to court, visit the Mosque, attend the vigil, make a home among us for those who aren’t accepted elsewhere. You love and forgive and challenge and hope and persist. You are my people and I love who you are. Thank you for calling me and keeping me and inviting me into your lives. I am surely yours. Still. All ways.