June 29 Minister Moment

Time to say goodbye. Time to say thank you for three life-changing years at the Unitarian Church of Norfolk. I had fun, and I hope you did too. We learned a lot about each other and about ministry.  We grew together.

Folks have come up to me and said that a sermon or an activity really resonated with them, changed them in some way. That is what ministry is about—changing lives. Thank you for letting me marry you, dedicate children, and celebrate and remember members of this beloved community.

We learned a lot about buying buildings and renovating them … a learning that I hope NONE of us use for several years!  We tried some things. Some worked well, some didn’t. That’s what “Developmental Ministry” is supposed to be about. We also built trust – and that can be harder than any physical construction.

I have written one hundred and fifty-two of these Minister Moment columns. Some have been all about getting volunteers for this or that. Some have been reports on trips I took, or things committees did. I hope my minister columns have helped build community, open minds and especially open hearts. Our world needs opened hearts so badly.

Three years ago, my first column was about my arrival in Norfolk. About how happy I was to find your letters all over my desk! You wrote me letters reflecting on your moments of joy at the Unitarian Church of Norfolk. My desk was piled high with hand written letters, drawings and single spaced type sheets. I read them all, and so I knew, from that very first day, that this was a community full of love.

One hundred and fifty-two columns—snapshots of our shared life. Hopes and disappointments, welcomes and farewells. So many times to say good bye, and now it is me who is leaving.

Rev. Justine Sullivan is preparing to settle in. From now on this will be her show. I trust that you will work with her as your professional minister. You will be cooperative and collaborative with her, and spend time finding ways to make her more productive and effective in her job.  She is dedicating two years of her life to CVUU, and that is no small investment. Being an interim minister is not an easy thing. Give her your full attention and support, and good things will happen. Your long term success depends on your ability to learn from her and work with her.

May you put your hand in hers, so that together you may do what neither she, nor you can do alone.

Know that after August 1st she becomes the contract for me. Go through her, not to me directly. I won’t respond without her permission, and will tell her of any contact. Rev. Jeanne Pupke did this with me, and I will follow Jeanne’s model.  

I could now repeat a long litany of thanks and gratitude, and yet, it is all gratitude. So I’ll keep it short.  Enjoy PRIDE this weekend, and moving. The Interfaith LGBTQAI service went very well, and maybe CVUU can think about hosting it in a future year. Visit the UU table at Town Point Park — Jannie Marvel has teams ready for Saturday. I hope it doesn’t rain.

Happy Summer, happy move, and may you always have room for one more.

Rev. Charlie Dieterich

Norfolk, VA, soon to be Erie, PA.