About a month ago, I was at a lunch with the Bronson Park Clergy Group. (They’ve invited me to join them because People’s Church used to be near Bronson Park.) As our lunch wrapped up, one of the Lutheran pastors turned to me and asked, “Is it true that you Unitarian Universalists take the summer off from church?” “Well… sort of…” I began. I spoke of how once upon a time when Unitarians were mostly Boston Brahmins, most church members, including the minister summered somewhere else. They shuttered the church building and would often gather for worship near their summer home. That idea has stuck with us, compounded by the reality that UUs are disproportionately teachers and academics, people whose schedule does shift dramatically with the change in seasons.
It is true that things get slower at People’s Church over the summer. Worship is smaller. Not all of the committees meet as regularly, but I hope you don’t take the summer entirely off. There will be some good things happening at People’s Church this summer.
One of the things I’m most excited about is our summer worship. The Sunday Services Committee has put together a stellar schedule of People’s people speaking on the question, “How do we live our faith?” They will speak about activism and art, spiritual practice and science.
I encourage you to attend.
One important thing to note: summer services will begin at 10:45am – the same time as our services during the “regular” church year.
The main reason the Sunday Services Committee and I made this change was to be more hospitable. Last summer, we noticed that people regularly were arriving 45 minutes late for our 10am service. These were usually newer members, visitors, and infrequent attenders. Perhaps they assumed services started at the same time all year or saw a page on our website describing “regular” services. We hope that keeping a consistent start time throughout the year will help us be more welcoming over the summer. This is an experiment. Please let me know what you think—we might try something else next summer.
Another important difference from previous years is that I am planning to be more present this summer than previous ministers have been (at least, as I understand they have been). I will be leading worship once a month all summer and attending worship most of the time. I will be taking some vacation and study time, but will be working for the majority of the summer. Some ministers save up their study leave and vacation and are out of the office all of July and August; I have found that I work best when I take breaks and study time spaced throughout the year. In this slower summer time, I will be planning worship and other programs for the coming year and getting to know People’s people and the Kalamazoo area better.
I’m looking forward to spending my summer with all of you.
See you in church,