My time as your Transitions Minister ends today, June 30. I came to UUFH with a plan to serve you for four months – and instead I fell in love with you, your staff and your leadership. In mid-August, I will be moving to Huntington full time to become your Interim Minister. In the meantime, Long Island area ministers will be available for emergency pastoral care coverage by calling our office and Jim Monnier has created an exciting schedule of summer services. My first day in the pulpit as your Interim Minister will be Ingathering/Homecoming, September 11.

As your interim minister, my work will change. The interim period is designed to give a congregation the opportunity to think about who you are, who you hope to be, and what you are looking for in your next settled ministry. The Rev. Richard Nugent writes, “Interim ministry is about inviting the present congregation to envision the congregation of tomorrow. It is about looking at the health of the congregation as a whole as well as each of its component parts. It’s about rediscovering the significant historical events and prophetic stances of the past. It is about coming to understand the emotions (grief, sadness, anger, disappointment among others) associated with the end of the previous ministry and navigating the anxiety of looking ahead to the future ministry.” We’ll be doing all of that.

The interim minister is a guide. We will use a variety of processes to help UUFH look at who it wants to be in the future. Do you want to grow? How will you fund the programs you’d like to start? How can you better serve the community? What new possibilities await this congregation? We will also look at what we learned about “doing church” during the pandemic, and how do we want to be going forward, not returning to normal, but creating a new way of being church together.

I am not here to “fix you” or tell you how to fix yourselves. You don’t need fixing. Yes, I will have ideas and suggestions about how you do things based on my almost 20 years in ministry.   However, my major purpose, to quote your new Board President, is to hold a mirror up to you to look at yourselves. As a friend of mine who is an experienced interim minister says, we believe in the worth and dignity not just of people, but of congregations. You already have all you need to be a thriving, growing congregation. Imagine, you’ve been blessing people for nearly 75 years!

I want to encourage each of you to think about three questions this summer:
*How has UUFH blessed your life?

*How would you like UUFH to bless the lives of the people who will come after you?
*When has UUFH seemed most alive as a congregation?
We’ll start in small groups with those questions in the fall.

One thing about my ministry with you won’t change. I understand that my most important job is to love you – to not just be your interim, but to be your minister. I am grateful for the past four months of serving you and knowing you – and I’m so excited about the two years to come! I send you blessings for a wonderful summer. See you in September!

Rev. Dr. Debra W. Haffner (she/hers)
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Huntington