Jun. 24, 2019.

By Wini Atlas.

What is lay ministry? Perhaps it is many things to many people. To me, and for many reasons, it is a joy. Through my two terms as a lay minister at UUCF – most recently as lay minister for social justice – I have nourished my soul, made many new friends, participated in meaningful activities and had some sorrows along the way, but learned so much from those and learned to consider mistakes learning experiences.

Lay ministry was a part of UUCF when I joined the congregation 28 years ago. In the mid-1990s, I took a yearlong course to learn the ins and outs of leadership, congregational polity and how to nourish my spirit and help others do the same. Looking back, I realize its lessons still resonate today.

Four years ago, I volunteered for the role of lay minister for social justice. During my years at UUCF, social justice has become a passion of mine so it seemed a good fit. One of our congregational desires is to be a social justice community. I believe we keep making progress toward that goal. The people involved in social justice work at UUCF, whether on one-time or long-term projects, seem to find sustenance from that work. They are dedicated, devoted and passionate about the causes they support.

Looking back, I realize that the most important thing to happen at the beginning of my lay ministry was that our new minister, Rev. David A. Miller, was as passionate about social justice as I was. Getting to know him and working with him on social justice issues like racial justice and gun violence prevention has been a joy.

Working with other lay ministers has also been part of my joy. I have learned from them, been helped by them and been spiritually nourished by our interactions.

As I leave the lay ministry, I know the work will go on. Over these 4 years, the Social Justice Council and Rev. David have worked to expand the focus of social justice at UUCF. He introduced us to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s handbook, “Inspired Faith, Effective Action.” Through reading and discussing this book, we expanded our understanding of the social justice activities our congregation can do. We realized that we had been primarily doing service projects and have now broadened our perspective to including the other pillars of social justice – service, education, organizing, advocacy and witness. Expanding our view has helped broaden our work. Another step that promises to broaden our perspectives on social justice is the congregational vote at the Annual Meeting on Jun. 2 to use a portion of Reach campaign funds to hire a half-time social justice coordinator or minister. This outcome was very gratifying as it’s been my dream and that of many others. I believe it is a social justice project worthy of the spirit of the intention to dedicate 10% of the Reach funds for social justice.

As I leave this lay ministry at the end of the congregational year on Jun. 30, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my beloved community.