Encourage the flourishing of all life,
Create and sustain beloved community,
Keep peace in your heart and in our world.
— original benediction

for the Commissioning in Worship of All Souls Lay Pastoral Associates and Small Group Ministry Facilitators

co-written with Galen Guengerich


In our life together as a religious community here at All Souls, we are united by our covenant to seek the truth in freedom, to serve those in need with love, and to bear witness to one another’s lives with unfailing compassion. 


The responsibility for the caring ministries of our congregation rests upon us all. But the responsibility for leadership in this effort is shared by our ordained clergy and our lay leaders, who have been especially equipped for this ministry of healing. This morning, we as a congregation will commission for service our Lay Pastoral Associates and Small Group Ministry Facilitators. 

Lay Pastoral Associates: We come with an attitude of humility, knowing how much all of us need the support of those around us, how alone any one of us can feel without friends to lean on, how vulnerable we can be if we try to face life solely on our own.

 SGM Facilitators: We gather to bear witness: to listen attentively to our own deep longings and high aspirations, to listen compassionately to the longings and aspirations of others, to listen to the silences as well as the words and what lies behind the words.

Both groups: We commit ourselves to this shared ministry of healing and wholeness, seeking to strengthen the bonds that unite us to each other and the ministry that calls us all to serve those among us and around us.


To the congregation:

Do you commission these members to bear witness to our lives through the caring ministries of this congregation by their compassionate presence and leadership?

We do.


To the gathered group:

Do you accept this call to bear witness to our lives through the caring ministries of this congregation by their compassionate presence and leadership?

We do.

 Galen and Lissa:

We welcome you as partners in our shared ministry as a congregation, as we seek the truth in freedom, serve those in need with love, and bear witness to one another’s lives with unfailing compassion. 

for the Installation of Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons, First Unitarian Brooklyn

Will you join me in the spirit of meditation and prayer,

God of many names, Breath of life, Source of love, 

Wellspring of goodwill and fellowship that beckons us to gather into religious community,

As our ancestors in faith have taught us to do, 

We gather to affirm the covenant between congregation and minister

To bind and sanctify this relationship in word, symbol, music and memory. 


As we covenant together for the vision of a shared future,  

We lean into the mystery of the unknown,

Resting in the certainty of this day to guide our way,

Another opportunity to live our values, to serve our neighbors in need, to praise beauty, to bless the world and love one another,   

Let our prayer today be to live the beloved community each day as we are in this moment, 

With promises of compassionate struggle together to seek the truth in love, doing justice and loving kindness. May each person feel heard and seen within these walls and empowered to live lives of meaning and purpose. May joy and laughter be a balm to soothe suffering. May this sanctuary be a place of healing for the brokenness of our world. 


As we celebrate the promise of mutuality and interdependence in this partnership, 

So too must we recognize the needs and role of congregation and minister.  


For Ana,

You are a blessing to so many in this world, 

May you remember to minister to yourself as you minister to others,

Seeking spiritual nourishment and sustenance in the traditions and practices that bind you to your calling, including time with clergy colleagues to refresh and renew this calling as your ministry grows and changes,  

May you be a vessel of caring and compassion for the world, but also in your home for your own growing family. May you allow yourself to be cared for as you care for others, knowing that it is a spiritual discipline not only to give but to receive love. 

For this congregation,

May you be grounded deeply in your history, 

In the traditions which have sustained you and delivered you 

to this point of promise in your life as a community, 

Know well your gifts and challenges that lay the groundwork for the future,

Minister from your strengths as you lean into your vision, 

Knowing that to share power is to grow power 

May you share of your joys and sorrows freely with one another and with Ana, 

Cultivating gratitude and appreciation for your unique gifts as you create space for new ways of being together, 

And opening your hearts to the new lives who will be touched by your vision, 

To all who are gathered, may we pray this day to help support and nurture this relationship as it grows and changes. As members, friends, colleagues and community, may we encourage each other to stay faithful to our calling as people of faith, love, and justice. May we be blessed and sustained by our common heritage as we look to the future with great hope and anticipation. May this be our promise and our prayer.

Amen, and Blessed be.