Jun. 3, 2019.
By Lay Minister for Worship and Arts Susan Bennett.
It’s been my pleasure and privilege to serve as UUCF’s lay minister for worship and arts for the last 6 years. I’ve learned and gained as much, if not more, from the experience as I have hoped to give to this congregation of souls I love so dearly. I’ve worked alongside five ministers, four intern ministers, four music directors, two directors of religious exploration, two worship committee chairs and countless lay worship associates. What an amazing and diverse group of UUs! As we collaborated to share inspiring, spiritually vital, joyful, creative, meaningful and hopefully transformative worship with this congregation, I’ve pondered the question “How is worship created?”
The obvious answer is that religious professionals and laypeople study theology, come up with ideas, themes, things they want to lift up to the congregation. They make an outline, find readings, design rituals, write sermons, choose music, write prayers and then they present it to you, the people of the congregation. But there’s more: an intangible aspect that you, the congregants, bring to worship. When we enter a UU sanctuary for a worship service, we can’t just be there as consumers, judges and observers. If we do that, the worship inevitably falls flat. Because we who sit in the service must bring our whole selves – strengths and vulnerabilities, joys and sorrows, our own spiritual journeys – to the worship service. And we must be willing to participate. It is the magic of all of us coming together with our diverse identities, approaches to spirituality and fully participating in the service with the worship leaders and creators that results in worship that can contain inspiration, comfort, challenge, feeling held in community and sometimes even transformation. I’ve seen it happen time and again at UUCF, and it is what has continued to motivate me over 6 years to contribute to the worship life of this congregation.
And now it’s time for me to move on to other pursuits. I’m thrilled that Shannon Williams has agreed to be the next lay minister for worship and arts. Shannon will bring new energy, new vision, new creativity and her bright and positive spirit to this ministry. As much as I’ve loved being your lay minister, I am now looking forward to being just a worship participant! It’s been work that has challenged me, nurtured me, helped me take risks and brought me great personal satisfaction. I am grateful to all of you for the opportunity and the support you’ve provided me.
See you in worship.