The UU Ministers of Canada will gather together in May for their annual professional development retreat. This year, the participants are meeting at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ontario starting on the evening of Sunday, May 21 and ending at noon on Thursday, May 25.
Time spent with colleagues provides ministers with many opportunities for sharing and learning. Every retreat offers a chance to check in with one another about life in ministry, and share the kinds of innovative programs or initiatives people have been using in their congregations. Ministers share ideas about worship, social justice and outreach, governance, and religious exploration topics and approaches. Networking allows ministers to spread good ideas and strategies across Canada as they share resources and materials.
Since many of our congregations are geographically isolated from other UU churches and fellowships, ministers also enjoy conversation about the joys and challenges of a life in ministry. This year, Rev. Jane Bramadat will be sharing her Odyssey – the story of her personal journey in ministry from her early years through retirement. Each year, a ministerial colleague is selected to share the story of their personal experience as a minister, providing insights and inspiration gained along the way. Ministers consider the chance to share their Odyssey a high honour, and value the wisdom and perspectives shared in these presentations.
Much of this year’s retreat focuses on professional development and learning, always a major focus of ministers’ time together. Anne Barker and Melissa Carvill-Ziemer will facilitate a learning session titled “Where Leads Our Call.” The UU Ministers Association developed this program to encourage discussion and reflection on the future of our individual and collective ministries. It is one in a series of programs designed for UU ministers at retreats to consider the various demands and realities of ministerial life; to reflect on the current and future status of our faith and ministry; and to share ideas for keeping our faith vital, relevant, and engaged in the world.
Ministers also take care of business at the retreat. The UU Ministers of Canada belongs to the larger UU Ministers Association, and must address organizational issues, such as proposed by-law changes, financial statements, and the election of officers. The proposed slate of candidates for this year include: Samaya Oakley (BC) for President, Fiona Heath (Central) for Vice President, Brian Kiely (Western) for Secretary, and Nicoline Guerrier (Eastern) for Treasurer, and Debra Faulk for Minister Observer to the CUC Board. Gratitude goes to the ministers who have completed terms and are leaving the UUMOC Exec: Stephen Atkinson as Treasurer and Victoria Ingram as Vice President.
Lest you think minister retreats are all business, there’s time for fun and relaxation as well. Shared meals allow for catching up on each other’s lives, and other social time makes it possible to take walks and pursue leisure opportunities. And, there is almost always at least one evening when a game of charades breaks out, full of laughter and fun.