Deepening Faith. Living Well. Enacting Justice.

Category Archives: Reflections on the Journey

Reflections on the Journey – Rev. Kelly Dignan

Kelly April 2015smallHere we go!  On August 16th, we will begin our journey together – to deepen faith, live well, and enact justice.  Pete and I have been packing – literally.  On July 1, we moved from Littleton to South Boulder. We’re getting settled, learning the layout of our new King Soopers, navigating the spots of heavy traffic in Boulder, and soaking up the beauty of the Flatirons.

Check out the picture we took on a walk after dinner one evening. 2015-07-05 19.43.56 (2)

Two of our kids, Michael and Meghann, are students at CU. Although we don’t expect to see them much, they say they are looking forward to free laundry, home-cooked meals, and quiet bedrooms away from the chaos of college living.  Pete’s kids live in the New York City area now.  They graduated from CU, and they hope to visit soon to get their Boulder fix.  It’s great to be here.

And we can’t wait to join you on August 16th for the annual Homecoming and Water Communion worship service.  Water Communion is a tradition in Unitarian Universalism and a way we restore our connection to one another.  It is a full church service for all ages.  Nursery will be provided.  Please bring a vial or small jar of water from a place that is meaningful to you.

The following weekend (August 21-22), I will attend the All Church Retreat until Saturday afternoon before returning to the church to hold the regular worship service on Sunday morning. While I am there at the retreat, we will have a transition ritual to honor Diana McLean. She and I have met several times so I can hear about the wonderful summer you have shared with her. Let’s thank her for her ministry!

Starting August 17th, my office hours will be on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Often, I will lead classes on Tuesday evenings and attend meetings on Wednesday evenings. My day off will be Monday.  On Fridays, I will study and write.

You will be able to contact me by phone:303-494-0194, Ext. 4

And by email:

Again, I can’t wait to join on the journey.  See you August 16th!

Rev. Kelly

Reflections on the Journey – Rev. Howell K. Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the span of these past few years that this Boulder Church has been involved in the UUA Developmental Ministry Program, this congregation has grown, changed, and evolved into a very healthy and formidable religious and spiritual community.  Calling the Reverend Kelly Dignan as the church’s next settled minister really becomes a continuation of this progressive reclaiming of the heart of what this congregation is about.  Congratulations on calling Kelly as your next minister – together, with Kelly’s leadership, this Boulder Church can only will move ever forward!  What you can achieve together, in your next level of growth and success, can only serve as inspiration for other Unitarian Universalist congregations.

Over the past seven years, this partnership between the church leadership and the professional staff has accomplished a rebirth of sorts – a rebirth of that same spirit that originally brought Unitarianism to the Boulder, Colorado area back in the late nineteenth century.

Personally I feel extremely fortunate to have played a part in this growth and change.  It has been so rewarding to be UUCB’s Developmental Minister and to be a part of this rebirth of congregational hope and strength.  I have been privileged to get to know so many fantastic members and share in your joys and celebrations.  I have been with many of you as sorrow and tragedy invaded your lives, and that is also a privilege – to be able to share in your life stories.

Over the many years that I have been a Unitarian Universalist minister, I have served in a variety of ministerial roles – parish minister, denominational official, congregational consultant, interim minister, and as a UUA Developmental Minister.  It has been a long ministerial career (it is often joked about that I tried to retire once back in the early 2000’s, but it didn’t take!) and I would like to think that I still have a few more years of service to our faith in me yet!

To that end, I have been offered the opportunity to serve this next year as the interim senior minister of the Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins, Colorado.  I am looking forward to working with the church’s leadership, its excellent staff team, as well as getting the opportunity to meet and get to know the members of this wonderful congregation.

Each new experience and episode that I encounter in my life-long ministerial journey only serves to emphasize just what an invigorating, hopeful, and vital faith Unitarian Universalism really is!  The folks who gravitate to our churches and find a “religious home” among this faith are truly remarkable people.

And to the members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder – I truly do consider my time as the UUA Developmental Minister among you these past several years as a wonderful experience . . . a wonderful experience for me with some very remarkable people.

Blessings always on this special Boulder congregation.


Reflections on the Journey

Anticipation is in the air! With the recent spate of warm weather days and the

beginning hints of a beautiful Colorado springtime before all of us, I am eagerly

hoping that we will get to enjoy a glorious spring this year.

When I lived in Maine so many years ago, I remember feeling like winter would

never end and that springtime was way too short. Moving to live in Colorado

has never generated such feelings. (Yes, I know that I have been known to

complain about having to shovel snow . . . on occasion!) Even in the wintertime

in Colorado, there have been more sunny days than one might expect. In many

respects, Colorado has a most pleasing climate and springtime here in the

foothills of the Rockies is a most rewarding experience!

Along with the anticipation of the turning of the seasons, the anticipation and

excitement is also running high as this Boulder Church congregation patiently

waits for the Ministerial Search Committee to make their announcement to the

congregation on the candidate they have selected to present to the congregation.

Your Ministerial Search Committee, from all that I have gathered, has been

dedicated and diligently working in their efforts to find the best match of religious

professional for the congregation so that this next stage or phase of growth and

success can be realized in the days and years ahead.

Moving from the UUA’s Developmental Ministry program into the ability to call a

settled minister who will bring his/her skills and talents to the shared work with the

leadership in helping the congregation achieve all that it has said that it wants to

become can be very exciting and engaging.

The church’s 2015-2016 Annual Every Member Pledge Canvass was initiated in

the last several weeks of March. This opportunity for everyone to step up and

make a positive difference in the efforts of continued success and health of UUCB

is before all of us. It is with anticipation and excitement that this congregation

moves into what can be a very rewarding next step in the church’s growth and

history. It is with just such a continued commitment and dedication that this

Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, in the form of each individual member

and friend, can help make the 2015-2016 Pledge Canvass a successful effort!

I personally am excited about the potential and the opportunities that lie ahead of

this Boulder Church. I cannot wait to hear the name of and to meet the minister

that your Search Committee has chosen among the potential candidates that they

have considered.

Anticipation is in the air for this month of April . . . should prove to be exciting and

invigorating days ahead.


Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARecently one of my colleagues called me and wanted to know if all the “good things” that he had been hearing about the Boulder Church were true.  I quickly responded (not knowing just what he had heard via the UUA “grapevine”) that “Yes, the Boulder Church is all that and more!”  And then I asked him just what he was referring to. 

He said that he had heard that Boulder was actually engaged in social justice and change and not just “talking the talk” (like many of our Unitarian Universalist churches).  I assured him that Boulder was indeed “walking the talk” and I recounted how our Immigration Ministry has companioned undocumented immigrants, sponsored a BorderLinks trip, attends the monthly vigil at the ICE Detention Center, and how our congregation is a supporting church to First Unitarian Denver’s New Sanctuary Program.

With a sense of pride, I also recounted how our Climate Action Ministry is making a difference in our own community, working with other congregations across the country, and partnering with the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, and helping our congregation make the necessary steps to divest our endowment funds from investments that are connected with fossil fuel companies.  I listed the Young Adult LGBTQAI initiatives to helping our congregation get re-certification as a “Welcoming Congregation” since it has been over a decade since obtaining that designation and most of our members have joined since then.

I was on a roll as I recounted the All Church Social Change events of the past several years, our Social Change Small Group Ministry model, and the recent improvements to our facilities to become more energy efficient and how I now see in the parking lot on Sundays more energy efficient vehicles and folks biking or walking to church on Sundays.

I went on and on until my friend called a halt to my list.  He acknowledged that he was impressed and I reminded him that his congregation could do all of the same things that Boulder is involved in, that it just takes folks interested and committed to making a difference.  Boulder has those individuals – folks who are willing to do the hard work to help change happen.

And then we talked about the usual pattern of most Unitarian Universalists talking the right talk but not going to the next step of actually following through with action. We, as a denomination, do have that tendency and we keep our social justice work to an intellectual exercise rather than a heart-felt commitment to truly make a difference by our actions.

After our phone conversation I found myself feeling very prideful about our Boulder congregation and the dedicated efforts of so many individuals to put our values into practice and how together, as a congregation, we are working to change the world by putting our Unitarian Universalist faith into action.

Members of the Boulder Church – you should feel proud of yourselves as well!  We are doing what our faith calls upon us to do.  Feel very, very good about that!







Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore than any of the other months of the calendar year, the month of December always brings the gift of children to my heart and thinking.  Undoubtedly this association comes readily to me because two of my daughters were born in the month of December and that December 25th is the date the world has designated as the date for celebrating of the birth of Jesus.


Perhaps this connection for me of children and this twelfth month of the calendar year also centers on watching children, wide-eyed and excited as they open presents scattered under a Christmas tree.  For many reasons, this month of December is a special time of the year.


Our church’s ministerial intern, Diana McLean, and I had a recent meeting with Samantha Frazee of the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services.  Samantha is part of Boulder County’s 360 Family Connection Team and the Foster Parent Engagement Specialist.  Our time together was informative and productive as I learned more about what Boulder County is doing to help children in our region.


Children in our community desperately need the help of all of us, regardless of our ages!  Our community needs us to volunteer as foster family helpers, respite providers, and especially to step up and sign up as foster parents.  Diana and I have asked Samantha to be with our congregation on several Sundays in December to share more about ways in which all of us can be involved in providing needed services and assistance to the children in our area who need the kind of caring, loving, and supportive help that you and I are capable of providing.


Diana and I have decided that we will utilize several of the Sundays in this month of December to speak to the connection of children with the values of our chosen faith of Unitarian Universalism.  In truth, children –– their care, instruction, and nurturing –– is a responsibility that our faith has always championed and held as one of the most important ways to live our faith and values through our efforts and service to the needs and growth of children.


Hopefully, throughout the entire year, all of us are attentive to the ongoing need of caring for and the nurturing of young hearts and minds, but this month of December 2014 will be a good opportunity for us to strengthen and renew our commitment and our faith in and of children.  See you in church!




Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMONDAY, OCTOBER 6TH, 2014 –– It was a Landmark Day for many of us!

On that day, Colorado’s Attorney General instructed City and Town Clerks around the state to begin the process of issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.  The Unitarian Universalist Ministers of the Mountain Desert District were gathered for their Fall Retreat at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado and we all had the joy of participating in one of Colorado’s first (at least the first in Larimer County!) official and legal same sex marriage that celebrated the love and commitment of our colleague, the Reverend Gretchen Haley with her spouse, Carri Ratazzi.

It was especially meaningful for me as Gretchen, Carri and their children, Gracie and Joe, hold a very special place in my heart and in my life. 

Gretchen was our church’s ministerial intern in the 2009-2010 church year and her ministry at UUCB did much to strengthen and advance the shared Developmental Ministry Goals that this congregation had set for itself to achieve.  Our church also had the privilege of ordaining Gretchen to the Unitarian Universalist ministry when she received credentialing by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Gretchen currently serves as the Associate Minister of the Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins (and Gretchen will be in our Boulder pulpit on November 9th!).

Our Unitarian Universalist faith has always affirmed the worth and dignity of all of life and a goodly number of us from UUCB have annually Stood on the Side of Love to get Colorado to recognize civil unions and to continue to work to have the Colorado State Legislature repeal the DOMA in our state constitution. 

The NPR news continues to share (it seems like a daily update!) the growing number of states that are repealing their bans on same sex marriage and I, for one, am appreciative of the growing support around the nation for affirming (and recognizing!) that love and commitment constitute a marriage between individuals rather than any other concern.

In many ways, Unitarian Universalism is finding support for one of our basic tenets of faith by this wonderful and sweeping direction that our contemporary society is heading.  It can make all of us believe more firmly that Unitarian Universalism is a faith for our changing and growing times!









Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEver since the fall issue of the UU World arrived in the mail with an article on the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder being a UUA Breakthrough Congregation, there have been quite a few emails and phone calls from all over the country with individuals and other Unitarian Universalist churches excited about the changes UUCB has undergone in the past few years,  Folks from a variety of Unitarian Universalist congregations write and call wanting to know more about our All Church Social Change focus, our Social Justice Small Group Ministry, Mindful Meeting practice, and on the steps the church leadership took in setting congregational goals for the shared developmental ministry.


Our church’s story is not that unique, as other churches have also “come back from the ashes to rise like a Phoenix” (not my original phrase, but as a number of folks who visited Boulder in the 90’s and early 2000’s have commented), but what makes our church unique is that the congregation set its own goals to accomplish, and together we have made great strides to achieve those goals in the past few years.


This has been such a different approach than churches and ministers have ever taken prior to UUCB being a “pilot project” for this new kind of ministry.  This new approach where congregations can self-determine what and who they wish to become, rather than “calling” a minister and then he or she doing the type of ministry that he or she wishes.  We have pioneered a new model where a minister is chosen who will work with the church leaders to do what the congregation says it would like to achieve.


We are not the only congregation where such shared leadership is producing desired results, but we are at the forefront of what might easily become a new way for churches and professional religious leaders to have shared goals to benefit all concerned.


UUCB has undergone rapid changes in organizational structure, accountability and by-laws and program development in these past few years.  Change always brings about, well – change!  Little cliques or areas of perceived congregational power by individuals gets placed into a larger context of a total congregational effort to grow and prosper, and that can be disconcerting to some folks.  This process of change that UUCB has undergone in this shared developmental ministry’s work to achieve the goals the congregation set for itself has helped more of us to better comprehend just what it means to be a covenantal faith community.


As we deepen our covenantal relationships with one another and towards shared goals, the majority of us have come to see all that we can accomplish together when we are working together.


As UUCB begins this next phase of working on and achieving its revised developmental shared ministry goals, commitment to our covenantal faith will continue to be the fundamental core value for becoming all that we say that we want to become as a church.  Being a UUA “Breakthrough Congregation” brings with it the responsibility to face and to handle any current and future changes with an abiding faithful commitment to being the covenantal religious community that is foundational to what it means to be Unitarian Universalist.










Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“War is not healthy for children and other living things.”

I was reminded of this now culturally familiar statement (created in 1967 in opposition to the U.S. war in Vietnam by the organization AMP – Another Mother for Peace) as I listened to NPR and heard story after story reporting on the wars in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East: war and senseless loss of life happening throughout the world from the Central African Republic to Nigeria to Egypt – from Afghanistan to Myanmar to Thailand – from the Ukraine to Chechnya to Dagestan – from Iraq to Syria to the Gaza Strip – it is a cycle of destruction, violence, killing of innocent civilians and children, and all for what?  For what? 

A political agenda?  A bid for power?  A desire/need to conquer or subjugate another group?  An out-moded ethnic rivalry?  A perceived historic slight?   Really?  To what end?  I admit that I do not understand why any war or violence against others makes any sense! 

My colleague, Rabbi Marc Soloway, and I were having lunch together recently and both of us were lamenting this explosion of inhumanity, violence, and war in the world.  Our conversation expanded to discuss what both of are seeing as a rise of anti-Semitism and a renewing of racial discord, not only around the world, but especially in the United States.  It is disheartening.  It is a sad commentary on our species.

Every world religion has some iteration or version of the Golden Rule –  “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” – as a basis of their faith tradition.  How have we come so far away from that foundational precept?  Unitarian Universalism places our significant emphasis on the inherent worth and dignity of every human being; our focus is on living lives of worth and meaning that does not disregard or denigrate another’s life. 

Marc and I both felt that, with all this depressing news from around the world and happening in America, the need is even greater now for men and women (and children) of faith (of all faiths!) to speak out, to stand up, and to model faithful lives of peace, of equity, of justice, of ethnic and racial solidarity.  Living lives that speak to our values and to our hopeful vision of being “one people” is so desperately needed in our world if any of us hope to change this current warring picture of the world.

. . . There is so much truth captured in the sentiment that “war is not healthy for children and other living things” that this message needs to be shouted from every church, synagogue, mosque, meeting house, and temple around the world.

We need to do just that!  We need to lend our voices and our efforts to halt this escalation of war and violence and inhumanity.  All of us!  Everyone of us.  It is what our faith calls us to do.


Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhere have all the days of summer gone?  It seems like it was only the beginning of June a week or so ago and all the days of summer (and all the many “summer time” projects that I wanted to accomplish!) lay ahead of me.  The days seemed to fly by (and much of what I had hoped to accomplish flew by as well!).

UUCB is a “year round” church in that we do not cease our regular services of worship during the summer months.  Closing church for the summer still happens in a number of our New England congregations, but out here in the West we keep our doors open and keep our many church programs up and running.

And yet, we do still designate a Homecoming Sunday – August 17th – when we gather as a Full Church Community (children and adults) to begin in earnest our fall church programming and to welcome back those families and individuals who have returned from their summer vacations.  Area schools begin right around this time and we, at UUCB, celebrate this coming back to our church home with the decidely Unitarian Universalist ritual of the Water Ceremony.

For those relatively new to Unitarian Universalism, the Water Ceremony is where individuals and families bring small vials of water collected from their summer adventures away from our area.  Throughout the travels over the summer, folks collect water from the streams, lakes, and bodies of water that they have visited and share them in a common vessel to help us remember the experiences and adventures that we have enjoyed during the summer.

Like the traditional hymn that we sing by Marion Franklin Ham (“As tranquil streams that meet and merge…”) we bring our collected waters and merge them into a common vessel of our shared summer adventures.  Symbolic of our re-covenanting and re-convening as a religious community, when we bring our vials of water and pour them into a common container, we are sharing with others our hopes and dreams of what we are as a religious community and of what we want to accomplish together in the coming church program year.

An exciting 2014-2015 church year has been planned and is being anticipated for our entire church community.  Following our Homecoming Sunday on August 17th, the very next weekend will be our All Church Retreat, August 22nd to the 24th, at Allenspark, CO.  Our All Church Retreat will be an amazing time to deepen our sense of religious community and an informal setting to get to know one another more deeply and caringly as we learn, play, and share adventures together.

Our 2014-2015 church program year begins on August 17th with our Homecoming Full Church Worship and we will use every opportunity in the coming year to build on the growing of our relationships and friendships because that is what we are about at UUCB – growing and deepening our faith together.

I guess, as I think about it in this way, the fleeting pace of the summer days only highlights and points to the exciting days ahead of us as a religious community in the coming church year.


Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had read about the prosthetic cheek bones that were added to Angelina Jolie in her portrayal of Maleficent and how, when she had her horns and robes on, all the child actors were frightened and wouldn’t go near her.  So, Jolie’s own daughter, Vivienne, was enlisted to play the young Aurora.

There was quite a bit of media hype and back story about this Disney movie, Maleficent, and so I figured that I should see it.  I thought it was great!  I definitely appreciated the story line’s twist on the classic Brothers Grimm’s tale of Cinderella.

There were a number of times during the watching of Maleficent that I thought about our historic Unitarian Universalist faith’s declaration of the transforming power of courageous love and how lives are changed by living out of love, rather than giving in to bitterness, hatred or apathy.

In the movie, Maleficent suffers a painful betrayal and her once-loving pure heart is hardened by her anger and the desire for revenge.  It is only through the re-capturing of what it means to have love in one’s heart that Maleficent moves beyond hatred and anger toward peace and she returns to a truly loving heart.

This movie struck a chord with me as I reflected on how humanity – you and I – often (more often than I think anyone of us wants to admit!) – on how we lose sight of the redemptive and transforming power of love.  The need to open our minds, hearts, and spirits to being the kind of loving beings that we aspire to is a very real need for us.

Showing love to others, being in love with life, acting in loving ways in the world – we all need to become better at this.  We recite that “Love is the spirit of our church” – of our Unitarian Universalist faithThe times that we live in call for us to put aside our foolish and petty ways and live into the kind of loving relationships, harmony, and peacefulness that we profess as a part of our faith tradition.

There is far too much hatred, apathy, anger, and angst in the world.  I do think that we all could do so much more to better live our faith’s precepts if we took to heart what love freely given to one another – to our world – and to ourselves can mean.

There truly is a very powerful and transforming aspect to loving better, more openly and freely.  In many ways, the ability to give and receive love is one of humanity’s most gracious and precious gifts.  We need to make far better use of this gift each and every day.  Disney’s Maleficent – it’s a good movie and an excellent reminder of what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist!


Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUUCB’s Shared Developmental Ministry Program over these last few years has accomplished much in helping UUCB become a stronger and healthier congregation.  We have done much to create the programming, the events, and the projects which continue to engage our members and to reach out our efforts into the larger world.

We have developed a connection to our larger community through the “Share Our Plate” program where we work with agencies in our community who are working to make a positive difference; our All Church Social Change Events have helped us to not only educate ourselves but to find ways to put our values into action in terms of our Immigration Ministry, our young adult LGBTQAI initiative, and our Climate Change Ministry; Our Mindful Meeting practice, the revitalized Small Group Ministry, as well as our new Depression Support Group have been ways our church has tried to help folks connect on a deeper and more personal level, one with another.

We also need to take some pride in the way we have reached out to and welcomed our neighboring faith community, Bonai Shalom, into our facilities after the devastating flooding of their Shul last September.  Having met many of the members of the Bonai Shalom congregation, I can tell you they are very appreciative of our being there for them.

This past year UUCB was chosen as a Leap of Faith Mentoring Congregation to the Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fremont, California.  It has been a rewarding partnership that, hopefully, can continue for the next several years to enrich both congregations.

To add to what we have accomplished over these past few years, our national Unitarian Universalist Association has named UUCB as one of four Breakthrough Congregations for this year.

A UUA Breakthrough Congregation is a congregation that has shown significant and sustained growth, where lay leadership has provided visionary leadership, and the congregation has shown a capacity to not only embrace but to promote its mission in the community and the world.

UUCB will be featured in an issue of the coming year’s UU WORLD magazine as well as serving as a resource for other mid-size congregations seeking to learn from  how UUCB has accomplished all that we have done.  It is quite a honor bestowed on UUCB by our denomination and it does serve as a testament to the commitment, effort, and hard work of so many in this congregation who have kept the purpose of why we are together as a religious community and the vision of becoming an even healthier and more vibrant church always as a goal before us.

This Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder –– this remarkable and healthy congregation that we are creating here together –– has much to be proud of.  Together –– working together to fulfill our church’s mission –– has really made UUCB stand out and be a Breakthough Congregation in so many respects.

There is much for each one of us to be proud of as members of this congregation.


Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving Amy Rowland as UUCB’s Assistant Minister during this 2013-2014 Church Program Year has helped our congregation move forward on several of the projects and programs that we have said are important to us as a church community.  Amy’s energies in expanding and deepening our small group ministry efforts, her shepherding of our All Church Social Change Events and her help in connecting us in deeper partnership with the organizations that Share Our Plate has enabled us to make significant progress in these areas.

At the end of this month Amy will accompany church members as our church’s “Chaplain” for the BorderLinks trip as members deepen their understanding and become more informed and educated about the issues of immigration at the U.S. and Mexican border.  The complex issues surrounding our nation’s immigration policies and its inequities are very real concerns for us here at our church.

And I would be remiss if I did not mention the wonderful worship services and inspirational sermons that Amy has delivered over this past year.  Being the congregation to ordain Amy Rowland into the Unitarian Universalist ministry is also an honor and privilege for UUCB.  She is a fine minister of our faith!

At the end of the current church year, Amy will be leaving UUCB and pursuing new adventures and interests that will make use of her many talents and abilities and we all wish her well in her future endeavors.

In a short time, many of us have come to really appreciate Amy for the many gifts that she brings to her ministry and she will be missed.

In recent years, UUCB has been blessed with two stellar ministerial interns –  Gretchen Haley in 2009-2010 and Kelly Dignan in 2012-13.  This coming 2014-2015 UUCB will again be a “teaching church” as we welcome Diana McLean as our ministerial intern for this next church program year.  Diana is a candidate for the Unitarian Universalist ministry and a student at Iliff School of Theology.  Diana has many talents, skills, and expertise to share with our congregation and we, in turn, as a growing and vibrant church community will be a “learning lab” to assist in Diana’s formation as she prepares for the Unitarian Universalist ministry.

As a church, we have enjoyed the energy and variety that ministerial interns and an assistant minister have brought us over the past few years.  This coming church program year should be no exception as we continue to move forward in our development as a healthy and vital congregation.


Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt lunch recently with my colleague, Rabbi Marc Solloway of Bonai Shalom, we were discussing a number of topics when Marc asked me if I knew about the “Gun Sabbath.”  I hadn’t heard of it and I asked Marc to tell me more about it.  The more he related about the 2014 Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend – March 13th to the 16th, 2014 – the more I wanted to somehow to know more about this weekend and to be a part of this event.

I have long been an advocate for stricter gun laws, mandatory background checks, firearm education, and a supporter of gun buy-back laws.  Here, in Colorado, we have seen far too many examples of gun violence – Columbine and the Aurora Theater Shooting being the examples of mass shootings, but there have been far more instances of shootings and death that do not always grab the newspaper headlines.

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, every year in the U.S, an average of more than 100,000 people are shot.  Every day in the U.S. an average of 289 people are shot.  One person is killed by a firearm every 17 minutes.  More children ages 0-19 died from firearms every three days in 2010 than died in the December 2012 Newtown, Connecticut massacre.  Nearly three times more kids (15,576) were injured by firearms in 2010 than the number of U.S. soldiers (5,247) wounded in action that year in the war in Afghanistan.

I find these statistics appalling.  I find gun violence appalling.  I wish that our Congress and our President would “get their act together” and do what needs to be accomplished by national and state legislation to help put an end to the wanton and senseless killings through guns.

The Gun Sabbath Weekend is March 13-16 with the centerpiece Kickoff National Event hosted on Thursday, March 13 at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  Thousands of places of worship will participate through prayer, education, acts of kindness and action on Friday, March 14 through Sunday, March 16.

Over fifty national denominations and faith-based organizations have formed a coalition to remember those who have lost their lives to gunfire and to continue the interfaith discussion on how communities of faith can work together to help reduce gun violence.  Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, and Unitarian Universalism faith communities are participating in this conversation, in shared prayers, and in sacred remembrance of those who have died as a result of gun violence.

Gun violence is not something that happens “somewhere else” and not to us – it really does affect all of us.  The needless killing by guns can be prevented.  I keep asking myself just what I am doing to stem this growing problem.  I keep asking myself what else – what more – can I and must I personally do.  I do not have answers but I know that I must do something.

I’d welcome your thoughts, your concerns, your reflections on what we, as the Boulder Unitarian Universalist Church, could be and should be doing to make our voices heard on this issue of gun violence.  At the very least, we can become engaged and participate with the other communities of faith on the Gun Sabbath this year.



Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the distinct privileges and responsibilities of our Unitarian Universalist polity (“polity” is the term for a governance structure) is in the privilege of congregations to ordain individuals into the Unitarian Universalist ministry.  Once a prospective candidate for the Unitarian Universalist ministry has met the specific credentialing requirements set by the UUA’s Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC), a congregation can then decide to ordain an individual as a Unitarian Universalist minister.

During this 2013-2014 church program year, Amy Rowland has served half-time as UUCB’s Ministerial Resident.  With her successful completion of her appointment with the MFC in early December, Amy’s position title at UUCB has changed to being an Assistant Minister.  Amy’s work this year focuses on helping our Small Group Ministry thrive and prosper, connecting UUCB closer to our partners in the Boulder community in our justice and outreach efforts, and working to strengthen and expand UUCB’s All Church Social Change efforts.  In April, Amy will serve as UUCB’s Chaplain on our church’s BorderLinks trip.  This BorderLinks trip will focus on the pressing issues of immigration as UUCB members travel to the United States – Mexico border and see, firsthand, what needs to be done to help alter and change our country’s de-humanizing and broken immigration system.

Amy has previously served as the President of the Columbine Unitarian Universalist Church, did her ministerial internship at First Universalist Church of Denver, and was the Mountain Desert District Consulting Minister to the Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist congregation before accepting the Ministerial Resident position (now, Assistant Minister) here at Boulder.

At the December Board of Trustees’ meeting, the request was made that the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder ordain Amy as a Unitarian Universalist minister.  Though Amy serves UUCB in a half time position, her influence and work has made a “full time” difference in the programs for which she is responsible for here at UUCB.   The Board of Trustees has called for a Special Congregational Meeting on January 5th, to affirm the Board’s recommendation that UUCB ordain Amy Rowland to the Unitarian Universalist ministry.  It is a privilege and an honor for our congregation to take this step.

As our congregation has grown in its programs and membership, we have also become more active in our local Boulder Denver Cluster of Unitarian Universalist Congregations and are benefitting from our Cluster’s efforts to be more focused on our congregations’ shared efforts in creating Beloved Community.  In February our church will be participating, along with the other Unitarian Universalist congregations, in the ordination of Kierstin Homblette, the Beloved Community Coordinator for the Boulder Denver Cluster.  Kierstin has become an Affiliated Community Minister with our Boulder Church as well as an Affiliated Community Minister with the other churches in our area – all in an effort to keep our congregations better aware and informed on the legislative and social concerns that affect us all.  From time to time, Kierstin will have information to share in our newsletter, the Clear Light Messenger, as well as on our UUCB website.

Taking part in the ordination process and the ministry of these two fine new Unitarian Universalist ministers is a positive way that our Boulder congregation is helping to insure our faith’s liberal religious future as well as the strong future of Unitarian Universalist ministry.


Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor this 2013-2014 church year, our congregation was selected to be a “mentoring” congregation to the Mission Peaks Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont, California.  It is a distinct honor to be chosen by the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Pacific Western Region to be in our denomination’s “Leap of Faith” program.  Being chosen signifies UUCB as a congregation that has succeeded and prospered over the immediate past few years, as witnessed by our congregation’s current vitality, energy, and social justice outreach, not to mention our development and creation of several exciting new programs that has made UUCB noteworthy on the national denominational scene.

In August our church’s “travel team” met with the eight member team from the Mission Peaks UU Congregation at the Leap of Faith “Launch” in Sacramento, California.  It was a productive get-together and exchange and several areas were quickly identified where UUCB could be of assistance to Mission Peaks as they work toward achieving and realizing some objectives that they want to accomplish during this program year.  In turn, there are some things that UUCB can take advantage from Mission Peaks where we can learn and explore new ideas.

It is an exciting partnership and we look forward to a visit to Boulder in January from the representatives of Mission Peaks as we explore this connection together.

Relatedly, on this topic of connection and partnership, I am pleased that UUCB has been able to adjust our fall events and commitments on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings to accommodate helping out our neighbor, Bonai Shalom.  The Bonai Shalom congregation will be utilizing our building and facilities while their Shul (on Cherrryvale Road) undergoes repairs from the flooding in Boulder this past September.  While our sanctuary had some water damage, it was nothing compared to what our neighbors at Bonai Shalom experienced. Their temple had extensive water and flood damage and, while repairs are being made to their temple, it feels good to be able to help out our neighboring Jewish congregation.

Connecting . . . Being in Relationship . . . Helping and Learning from One Another.  That’s what being together in community is all about.  It is what we, as Unitarian Universalists, profess and try to live.  I am glad and proud that we are doing it here at UUCB.


Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell K. Lind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJuly 1st, 2013 begins a new church program year.  I look forward to a productive and rewarding new church year.

Amy Rowland will be joining UUCB this coming year as our ministerial resident.  Amy just completed a Mountain Desert District Consulting Ministry in Carbondale, CO and, on June 5th, she graduated with her Masters of Divinity degree from Iliff School of Theology.  Even though this ministerial residency in only a half time position, Amy is eagerly looking forward to connecting up with our partner agencies in the Boulder area, helping UUCB get more involved with the organizations that we “Share Our Plate” with each month, and working with our small group ministry program.  Amy has so many skills, talents, and experience that she is bringing to this position and, with Amy as a part of our Ministry Staff Team, there is a quite a bit that we can accomplish in this year ahead.

At the beginning of June, a Religious Education Interviewing Committee met with Janen Wright and offered her the position of Boulder’s Lifespan Faith Development Director.  Janen and her family will be moving from Pocatello, Idaho to the Longmont/Firestone area in late August and Janen will begin her religious education responsibilities with UUCB come September.  Janen is also enrolled at Iliff School of Theology this coming year as she pursues a ministry of religious education degree at Iliff.  Janen is just the right person to help us grow our children’s religious education program and her commitment to family ministry should help UUCB deepen and strengthen our outreach to our young families.  Janen’s energy and eagerness to make family ministry a priority among us will add another fine element to the Ministry Staff Team in this coming year.

2013-2014 church year already has the promise to be an exciting and energizing new program year as the Church Staff Team works hand-in-hand with UUCB’s lay leadership to help the congregation achieve the objectives which the congregation set for itself.


Adding Amy and Janen as our two newest staff team members (as well as adding a new music director to the team come September) to work in partnership with me, as Boulder’s Developmental Minister, Judith King as our very able Church Office Administrator and Kay Stevens as our Hospitality Ministry Coordinator means that UUCB will have a Ministry Team that would rival any other church our size.  Being part of an outstanding team effort with the church’s lay leadership means that, together, we can accomplish so much more toward the church’s goals.

2013-2014 has all the makings of being a very fine church program year of growth and continued prosperity for UUCB.  There will be more and more opportunities for each one of you to become more involved and take on leadership roles in the coming year – a year of growth for all of us.



Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

Over the years of my ministerial career, I have served as a “Mentor” to a quite a few ministerial OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAstudents and Unitarian Universalist ministers who are starting out in their ministries.  An important aspect of “mentoring” someone else is being able to share some of the lessons one has learned in his/her experiences, offering advice and counsel to help someone else not make the same mistakes that you have made along the way, and to support the “mentoree” in his/her efforts.


Mentoring someone else is satisfying and rewarding in so many ways.  You can learn and grow in the process; learning from reflecting on one’s own experiences and learning also from the aspiring mentoree.


In this coming church program year, our Boulder congregation has been asked to be a Mentoring Congregation to an “Aspiring Congregation.”  We have been invited into the national Leap of Faith and the Pacific Western Region’s “Big Faith – No Borders” program, the denominational program that is a one-year experience pairing a healthy congregation aspiring to grow with a congregation (like ours) that is healthy and growing.  Together they focus on breaking through the barriers hampering the aspiring congregation’s growth.


Our church has been invited to mentor the aspiring congregation, Mission Peaks Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont, California.  During the course of this coming church program year, the leadership (both ministerial and lay) from the Mission Peaks Congregation will be visiting Boulder and learning from our experiences in moving toward congregational health in discussion with our church’s leadership.


UUCB has accomplished quite a lot in both programmatic growth and congregational health during these past several years and there is much that we can share with another congregation who is aspiring to achieve something similar to what we have achieved.


It is a distinct honor to be seen by our national denomination as a church that is growing into solid congregational health and that we have experiences and ideas that can be shared with another church seeking to grow as we have.  I think that there is much that we can share with the Mission Peaks UU Congregation as well as much that we can learn about our own progress and growing health.  I also know that UUCB will learn of some new ideas and ways of doing things from the Mission Peaks congregation that will assist us as we continue to move forward as a religious community.


I am personally excited for us, as a congregation, to be a part of this denominational Leap of Faith and the Pacific Western Region’s “Big Faith – No Borders” program.  We will learn much about ourselves as we assist another Unitarian Universalist church in its growing efforts toward congregational health and success.  Mentoring can be satisfying, rewarding, and everyone engaged in the process benefits.  Our national faith movement benefits as well.  Talk about a win-win experience!




Reflections on the Journey by Rev. Howell Lind

I spent an evening several weeks ago where I just couldn’t go to sleep and so I picked a book from the shelf, hoping to read for awhile until I could drift off the sleep.  It didn’t happen!  Though I had read several years ago the book by primatologist Frans de Waal titled Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved, I found myself re-reading this slim volume with a renewed interest.  I couldn’t put it down this time!

Frans de Waal’s observation of non-human primates’ behavior over half a century has led de Waal to draw some conclusions regarding natural selection and moral reciprocity.  He posits that, though human morality may culminate in ideas of justice and right, it begins in concern for others even as seen among the non-human primates.

I found myself re-reading this book and thinking about Jonathan Haidt’s new book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (which I am only part way through!), and Marc Hauser’s  classic work, Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong.

Marc Hauser, an evolutionary biologist and cognitive neuroscientist, has stressed that evolution has “hardwired” humans to know right from wrong.   Our brains have been endowed with an ingrained moral instinct through natural selection.

The observations and research of both de Waal and Hauser started me reflecting about the more conservative religious agenda that is currently in our country.  Religious conservatives could stand to read these two books as well.

Too many folks draw a hard and fast circle around “morality” and associate it solely with religion.  Yet, religion is not synonymous with morality.  More fundamentalist faith traditions would have one believe that if one does not adhere to their particular understanding of religious faith, then one cannot ever live a moral life.

Morality (and the substitute nomenclature of “family values”) is not the “reserved” property of the more conservative religious groups!

From our evolving “Professions of Faith” as Universalists and as Unitarians in our earliest roots in America, morality has been an important aspect of our faith stance.  Our current Unitarian Universalist “Purposes and Principles” continue to reaffirm that understanding.

Our emphasis at UUCB on our Covenant as a behavioral covenant only serves to strengthen the conviction that morality and how we behave towards one another is what can make a “religion” strong and viable.

The documented behavior of chimpanzees and monkeys also makes it clear that acting and living out of a larger sense of morality belongs to all of us in the primate classification.



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