A Message from Rev. Dr. Justin Osterman

Change to Remembrances in Upcoming Sunday Services

Since coming to UUFR three months ago, I’ve watched people light candles of Joy and Sorrow in the Sunday services and wondered, “What is going on in the lives of these good people and what support do they need?” I understand that, in the past, people occasionally came forward during the service to share their Joys and Sorrows aloud. Experience has taught me that some people are comfortable doing that while others will never come forward to speak in public, especially when they are hurting. It also seems that the pink “Care Connections” cards in the sanctuary each Sunday are rarely used. We need to find a way for all of you to make your pastoral needs known to the community, so that we can respond swiftly in the most helpful way possible.

I have discussed this challenge with your Board of Directors, the Care Committee, the Committee on Ministry, and the Worship Associates. Starting on Sunday, November 5, there will be a slight change in how we share remembrances in the Sunday morning services. We will continue to have candles available for you to light at any time before, during, or after the Sunday service and we will have a Remembrance Book beside the candles in which you can write your name, your Joy or Sorrow, and indicate whether you wish to have your joy or sorrow shared in the service by the minister, whether you wish your news to be included in upcoming congregational communications, whether you wish to be contacted by a minister, or whether you wish your concern to be kept private. (In cases of extreme sensitivity, please contact one of your ministers directly.)  Rather than ask you to come forward and light candles at this point in the service, we will begin a Meditative Moment by reading aloud the Joys and Sorrows that you have written in the Remembrance Book, so that – if you wish – your significant needs are known to the wider community. The minister or worship leader will use his or her discretion when reading all designated remembrances as part of the worship service.

For example . . . you may feel overwhelmed with joy because your favorite college football team beat their arch rivals the previous day. By all means, if you so choose, write that in the book of remembrances, light a candle, say a prayer of personal gratitude and devotion to the football gods. You are welcome to do so. That joy will not be mentioned aloud in the service. But if you are sad and anxious because your aunt is undergoing surgery next week and you want that shared with the congregation, then we will ensure that it is and we will include as many spoken remembrances as necessary to meet the pastoral needs of this congregation.  

This change will accomplish a number of key things: (1) it will allow members to share their joys and sorrows with the community, including some of you who would never dream of standing up in front of 200 people and speaking into a live microphone, (2) this will ensure that member joys and sorrows are recorded in writing, both for broader publicity purposes and for future pastoral outreach, (3) the length of each service will be more predictable, because the sharing joys and sorrows will happen more quickly, and (4) all joys and sorrows will be shared in the spirit of worship.  

I won’t be surprised if some of you feel uncomfortable with this change; change is always challenging. Please come talk with me, so that I can better understand your concerns. The purpose behind this change is to ensure that the essential pastoral needs of all our member – to be known, remembered, and supported by their community – are being met. I encourage you to take advantage of this new means of sharing your joys and sorrows with each other, and let’s see how it works. Thank you in advance for your support.

8 responses to “A Message from Rev. Dr. Justin Osterman

  1. FYI, for the first 14 or 15 years as a member of UUFR spoken J&S were an important part of every service, for some people, the occasion in which they were most interested. It was not an occasional thing.

  2. I remember how J & S were shared on a more personal level many years ago, and I believe this is an excellent change Justin. Thanks for developing this improved process, which will definitely provide a greater level of support and connection for UUFR members!

  3. Thanks for thinking about this so carefully. I feel that the lines to light candles are now taking up too much time in the service, so I like this more flexible plan. I do miss the spoken J&S because I learned about people’s lives and I believe it created bonds among members.

  4. Our awareness of one another’s life-changing events helps weave the fabric of this community. While I have missed hearing joys and concerns, I have really enjoyed the focus in our services these past two months — the clear unfolding of music, readings, sermons from the beginning to the end. This new approach to joys and concerns is discrete and respectful, and satisfies our need to share within community while keeping the flow of the service intact. Thank you for giving this so much thought and care.

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