First UU Columbus

A Welcoming Congregation

Rev. Jennifer Brooks - Roads for Traveling Souls PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 16 June 2017 00:00

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“However sheltered this port, and however calm these waters, we must not anchor here; however welcome the hospitality that surrounds us, we are permitted to receive it but a little while.”


Those words are Walt Whitman’s, from his iconic poem, “Song of the Open Road.” My time has come to set sail.

July 9 will be my farewell worship service with you. As I’m preparing for that Sunday, I’m recalling the joys and challenges of our two-year journey together. Now it’s time for our paths to diverge. My journey, shared with First UU Columbus for two remarkable years, continues. So does yours. I’m setting off for the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, Iowa (like First UU, a flagship congregation in its region). You’ll soon be welcome the Rev. Marian Stewart as your settled Senior Minister.

Roads for traveling souls.

It’s been a joy to serve this congregation, to experience the warmth and commitment of the people who make this their spiritual home. I’m grateful to my colleagues who have ministered with me here: Rev. Eric Meter, Rev. Lane Campbell, and Brian Hagemann, First UU’s Director of Administration. I’m happy for First UU and for my long-distance colleague, Rev. Marian. I know that this wonderful community, with renewed zest for its mission, looks forward to a future of great promise.

Whenever human beings travel from one place to another—when they leave behind friends and familiar places for somewhere new—they cannot help but carry with them part of the place they’ve left behind. Something of my hopes and my love and my longing will remain in Columbus. And, forevermore, I’ll carry in my heart a great big chunk of who you are and your deep embracing love. I am grateful for this time among you.

While it’s painful to bid farewell to so many good and vibrant souls, it has also been heartwarming to acknowledge mutual appreciation and a shared sense of belonging to one another. I remind myself that in every new endeavor, in every step a human being takes (no matter how small), our little forays into Life are buoyed and supported by the people and experiences that have readied us for the next passage. What marks our human journey is not a change of location, but the growth we achieve along the way: compassion, courage, patience, open-mindedness, and the willingness to learn from experience. We’re all on that road, and if we’re persistent it leads to spiritual transformation. I seek it for myself; I wish it for you all.

And so, onward! Onward, as Whitman says, to “know the universe itself as a road—as many roads—as roads for traveling souls.”

With love from this traveling soul,
Rev. Jennifer

Special Note on Ethical Rules for Former Ministers. Once a minister leaves a congregation, the departing minister no longer serves that congregation. Professional ethics guidelines direct departing ministers to stay away for at least a year after the arrival of a new minister. This separation allows the congregation to succeed in its partnership with a new settled minister. To honor this goal and their ethical obligations, neither Rev. Jennifer Brooks nor Rev. Mark Belletini will participate in weddings or memorial services at First UU; provide pastoral care; discuss congregational matters; or engage in any kind of regular communication. In our wired and connected world, this means electronic communication as well. Neither Rev. Jen nor Rev. Mark will have a First UU email address. Though Rev. Jen has a Facebook page, she won’t be in Facebook or Facebook Messenger communication with First UU congregants. With all their love, Rev. Jen and Rev. Mark wish for First UU and new Senior Minister Rev. Marian Stewart a long and vibrant ministry together.