This morning (Wednesday) I was looking out over the Sound to the Olympic Mountains. Today they are partly concealed by clouds and occasional rain. When the search process was in full forward gear this winter I often got calls or video chats with potential candidates for settled minister at Westside. I would always point the webcam out the window so they could see the incredible beauty here. One time I even caught a sunset when an interested colleague contacted me.
I expect we all know that beautiful scenery, the mountains, the water and so much more makes the Pacific Northwest even more attractive to people who consider moving here. The problem then arises to crowded cities, highways, and a paucity of reasonably priced housing. The housing market here is tight and far more challenging then when I lived in the Seattle area between 2003 and 2008. Traffic is far worse, too.
Those challenges are ones we deal with daily here in Seattle, Portland and elsewhere. Just imagine what it would be like for someone from another part of America to live here. No matter how much support and help we can give newcomers they will likely be anxious about a move into such an area. Add to this the uncertainties of the economy and the American future. Moving is harder this year than in past years and I think much of the angst is due to the election and a general air of uncertainty of what happens next.
I can’t know what discernments Rev. Carlos Martinez was working through in his week with you. I do know that there seems to be a trend this year for fewer ministers to seek new congregations. Colleagues aren’t retiring at the rates of prior years. Whether this pattern continues next year and beyond is anyone’s guess. I can safely predict that when Westside begins its new search in a year or so that you will have learned a great deal about the process and how challenging it can be.
What happens next? My hope is that you of Westside can explore your vision statement and ask how to make that vision into a reality. Will it be social justice? Will it continue to be building the Beloved Community? Will you find new ways to provide participatory worship programs outside of Sunday morning? And what about the building and the elevator plans? Here are your mission and vision statements below. How do they speak to the work of the next two years at Westside?
“Our vision: An inclusive, diverse Unitarian Universalist community nurturing spiritual growth and working for justice.
Our mission: To support one another, expand our minds, and build a more just world.