“The times, they are a’changing.” Those words, written by Bob Dylan more than half a century ago, and sung to us last month by our Church Musician, Les Tacy, are poignantly real to me right now, as I look ahead to the “church year.” In the next 12 months, we will say goodbye to two beloved Heritage staff members – our Assistant Minister for Religious Education, Rev. Leslie Woodward, and our Church Administrator, Denise Martinez. Both will be retiring after many years of outstanding service to our congregation, and our Unitarian Universalist faith.
Leslie’s retirement comes at the end of December – a time that seems far away still, but truly is just around the corner. She has been a colleague and trusted partner in ministry with me now for more than eight years, and I will miss her greatly. Denise’s retirement will come sometime next spring or summer, near the end of the church year, after I have returned from the remainder of my interrupted sabbatical. She has been with us ever since I came to Heritage in 2002, and you will forgive me if I literally cannot imagine the church, or my ministry, without her.
These dual retirements are but a portion of the change our congregation is facing in the coming year or so. Eventually, at some point (but sadly, not anytime soon), we will be working out details about how to safely return to our building, and to in-person gatherings. What a change that will be! Well before that, I will be resuming my COVID-interrupted sabbatical, starting Dec. 1. And – a few weeks prior to that – the country will reach a watershed moment in its nearly 250-year history, with potential change (not to mention what some have called “the soul of our nation”) on the ballot, come Nov. 3.
“The times, they are a’changing.” As we bid farewell to beloved staff, as we live into the ongoing pandemic and its long-term impact, as we work and pray for change in our world – change that can bring about a more equitable and just society – let us lean into the change. Let us “heed the call” of change, in Bob Dylan’s words. And let us do all this with courage. With compassion. In community.
May it be so.