From Our Minister

Dedicated to educating our fellow members and greater community about how to help our Earth be healthier by living greener and healthier lives.

Jun 2018

To the Glory of Life

Dear Friends,
I have been blessed on several occasions. But the summer of my 50th year didn’t feel like one of them.
I’d just finished my 15th year in ministry and was leaving a church I’d come to love. I had recently lost everything in a house fire. Shortly after that I lost my mother and my marriage.
I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago Compostella – a 500-mile spiritual path from France – across the Pyrenees – to ”the end of the earth” at Finisterre, Spain near Santiago. Once a Catholic pilgrimage, today it transcends any one religion. The Camino draws pilgrims the world over. Anyone willing to walk through pain and fear will find joy and purpose.
One afternoon, 300 miles in, I finished my daily 20+ mile walk, arriving at a hostel. Like many hostels, it was next to a church.
Most of the towns on the Camino – and the churches in them – were built to provide hospitality to pilgrims. All such towns understood – especially in the earliest days – that the welcome offered to pilgrims meant the difference between life and death. A bed, a meal, some medicine and attention… these were sacraments. And they were given to all, not just those who looked or believed like they did.
But besides these, we were given something else. We arrived on the annual feast day where a special pilgrim’s mass was being held. I sat with 200 pilgrims, dirty and tired, packed in a chapel alongside a hundred townspeople – most of whom ran the hostel, the store, the restaurant, or the small infirmary. Few of the pilgrims were Catholic. Few of the townspeople were not.
Maybe it was because I was a hundred miles past where my cynicism stopped walking. Beyond my pride. Beyond even self-pity. But when the priest – in broken English – spoke of Love lasting beyond everything breakable – bodies, promises, dreams – I began to weep.
And when he called us to the altar and put both hands on my head and said, “God loves you,” I felt different.
It didn’t matter that my arms were folded in front of me in the sign of a non-believer. It didn’t matter that my God hangs out in different places and speaks a different language than his. What mattered was that acceptance and compassion were offered, and I set my cynicism and ego aside so they could be received.
This is what it is to be blessed. It’s what happened when I was a child brought before the church who dedicated themselves to raising me… it’s what happened at my ordination when I became a minister dedicating myself to help raise others.
On the Camino – and in this church – it’s like that: a little bit of both. We’re sometimes blessed; sometimes the ones doing the blessing. But, regardless, to be a holy rite requires going the extra mile, leaving behind pride and offering up love.
As I prepare to leave for a short time, I invite you to be blessings to one another. Provide hospitality of the heart. Reach out. Love one another.
To the Glory of Life.
The Rev. Greg Ward
The Rev. Greg Ward will be away from UUSM from the end of June until early September.

Top Ten Rules in place at UUSM while Rev. Greg is away…

10. First of all, a general rule is in place throughout the summer that any illness beyond the sniffles or a hangnail is not allowed. If this rule is broken, see rule #6 and rule #1.
9. Everyone in the congregation is required to show up as often as possible for the express purpose of being nice and being helpful for those in need.
8. Everyone in the church is required to learn at least one name (of someone they didn’t know); one thing they didn’t previously know about how the church works; and one thing that they could do that is considered “leadership.”
7. Everyone is required to think nice thoughts about Rev. Greg and hope he is safe and well. He will be thinking the same things about you (extra points for rooting for the Angels while he is away).
6. For questions about pastoral care, contact the pastoral care team ( This will go to a team of people who work with the Pastoral Associates, the Care Ring Team, and the Board, and who will arrange for a minister if a need for rite of passage is indicated.
5. For questions about worship, ask the worship associates ( This will go to the Executive Team of the Worship Associates and they will respond promptly. You can check the newsletter or e-blast to find out who the worship associate will be for a given Sunday and you can check with them.
4. For questions about communications, contact our Church Administrator, Nurit Gordon ( She will consult with our Communications Team as appropriate and be able to help determine how, when, where, and if an announcement can be made on one of UUSM’s communication vehicles (Newsletter, website, e-blast, flyer, bulletin board, or worship announcement, etc.).
3. Override all general impulses built in to the DNA of most UUs to break the rules. Try following these rules as an experiment, or a spiritual practice… or as an ironic act of defiance against your normal propensity to defy the rules.
2. When in doubt, employ a hearty and humble sense of humor. Laugh at the world. Laugh at yourself. Appreciate others.
1. Love one another. This is the paramount rule. Whatever other rules go awry, this one is non-negotiable. Follow it. And let others follow it with you. Remarkably, you will find that, when employed faithfully, it has an amazing ability to take care of almost every issue and make all other rules superfluous.
The Rev. Greg Ward

Sunday, June 10 11:30 am to 1:30 pm in the Sanctuary

Developmental Ministry is different than Settled Ministry or Interim Ministry. It is not simply holding a place until the “real” minister arrives. Developmental Ministry is designed to identify, explore and address any unresolved conflicts or organizational issues that would inhibit or prevent successful new ministry from rooting here. It is designed to identify and point out to the congregation what ministers (and new members) are looking for so that the congregation can do its work in preparing to be the place great leaders (including great members) want to be. Rev. Greg has spent a year observing, and talking, and pointing things out. This is an opportunity to have a congregational conversation about what he has come to understand, what he will be recommending, and what he needs to have happen in the next couple years to prepare for the kind of exciting future we want and deserve. He has written a report which is encouraged reading before the conversation, although all are welcome. Find the report at A light lunch will be provided.