Supporting One Another

By: Reverend Jenn Gracen, Minister

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As an interim minister, my role with congregations is to move with them through times of transition. When I came to serve the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in mid-2020, the community had already moved their gatherings online. This congregation knew how important it was to remain connected to one another throughout the many changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the six months that I have journeyed with this church we have continued to support one another through members who have sent cards, called one another, and even provided meals by dropping them off in front of another’s door in order to keep that person safe.

When my wife and I announced our pregnancy, the congregation came together to provide a socially-distanced baby shower. One member brought us treats that took into account my food allergies, another organized games, and still others dropped off presents or had them sent to our house. The creative showering of love and support that was shown to us as we worked to navigate having a child during pandemic time was overwhelming.

Such creativity speaks to a truth about this congregation: that no matter what we face, no matter what comes up, the individuals in this community will continue to care about one another.

This truth doesn’t just show up in within our congregation but also in the way we reach out. Tree of Life has long been a community devoted to social justice. Members have invested a great deal in supporting folks experiencing homelessness through Compassion for Campers, a program that offers supplies and gear to folks who are living outside. 

The church was also one of the founding sites for the Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) program. Additionally, our congregation has been active in working to end cash bail and voter suppression. The importance of such work has become even more clear over the events of the past year.

While physical distancing has sometimes required changes to our approach, as Unitarian Universalists, our values call us to work toward a world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.  We do that by connecting with one another, by caring for one another. We do that by fighting systems of injustice in our society that work against so many of us, particularly people of color. We do that by trying again and again, even when we aren’t sure we know what we are doing.

This is how Tree of Life lives Unitarian Universalist values into this world. It is an honor to be their minister.