While people attend church for many reasons, for Unitarian Universalist congregations, worship is the primary spiritual practice that unites us as a community on a weekly basis. Throughout the arc of the church year, worship tells the story of our life as a congregation: who we are as a religious people, what we cherish, how we celebrate, how we grieve, how we respond to injustice. From worship, we cultivate our sources of hope, resilience and joy. The experience of worshiping together refreshes us and assures us that we are not alone.
The minister’s role in worship is to bring the congregation’s vision to life by creating collective experiences of beauty, meaning and connection. I cherish my role as worship leader, amongst the most humbling and challenging tasks of ministry. I bring a presence of joy, reverence and depth to every worship experience I lead. My sermons are well-prepared and wide-ranging, relevant and intellectually challenging yet accessible. Regardless of the subject matter, my preaching is passionate, emotionally honest and engaging. My leadership in rites of passage honor life’s milestones with reverence, caring and depth. I enjoy crafting creative rituals and special liturgical services that honor life's seasons and cycles.
In worship, music and the arts create the container and establish the flow of the service, helping the congregation experience beauty and emotion. The arts have the power to tell stories in fresh and unexpected ways, creating empathy that can shift our perspective and open new doors in our hearts. The arts help us to cultivate our theological imagination, perhaps the most essential creative tool we have in our faith journeys. When our imagination is awakened, we enter a sacred space where we can open to the transcendent and prophetic dimensions of our faith: the beloved community where all are welcome, the more just, loving and peaceful world we dream about. Worship enlivens the vision we strive for and work to make possible.
I am drawn to crafting worship in a way that tells a story using every element of the worship service, not simply the sermon or reading. In my preaching and worship leading, I bring an artistic approach, exploring the creative practices of storytelling, performance art, theater and poetry. Sometimes I sing and invite the congregation into song. I particularly love leading spirituals, chants, and simple Unitarian Universalist hymns that we can learn by heart. As lead minister, I would hope to collaborate with a music director and other arts professionals to lead meaningful worship experiences throughout the year.
To share our good news and grow our faith, I take questions of hospitality, inclusion and accessibility seriously in worship. Our vision of the beloved community should not just be talked about, but experienced. Are children and youth invited to participate, not only as performers but as leaders? Can children and youth understand the messages and music? Can people who have hearing, vision or mobility impairment participate? Does the liturgy of the weekly worship service communicate Unitarian Universalist principles and values? Is the liturgy consistently welcoming and accessible to guests, newcomers, and the “unchurched”? Do lay people participate in worship or do only clergy? Does the minister’s preaching teach our Unitarian Universalist history and heritage and motivate the congregation to act as people of faith?
Worship is a ministry shared amongst lay and ordained leadership. I am committed to developing lay leadership through a Worship Associates program to collaborate on worship planning and execution throughout the year. At All Souls, I expanded our Worship Associates program to train new leaders and create a dynamic Summer Worship series with guest musicians. At All Souls I also helped to cultivating a contemporary worship experience with young adults called the Hub, which has been a very successful monthly addition to our worship life at All Souls. The service is highly participatory, featuring stories from our membership and small group reflection time. I have introduced a process of thematic worship planning with the team in which all members of the team are involved in co-creating the worship service together. As a result of our collaboration, young adults feel more connected to ministers and ministry, and a new sense of belonging to the worship life of the church where they had formerly felt estranged. Knowing that different generations seek different worship experiences to fulfill their spiritual needs, I am interested in exploring diverse worship forms within and outside of Sunday morning.
Worship is an experience that helps us renew our spirits, to refresh our soul, to be reminded of our history and heritage, to recommit to our vision. I look forward to exploring worship with a congregation, telling our story and casting a wide vision for the transforming power of our faith.