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Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF) Worship Service and Senior Minister Installation, General Assembly 2011

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The Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF), a unique congregation of 3500 that only meets in person at General Assembly, celebrates the installation of its new Senior Minister, Meg Riley. Join the CLF Board of Directors, members and friends, former ministers, and others for an inspiring worship service. Includes Laurel Hallman, Bill Sinkford, Peter Morales, more!

Transcript

Prelude

[The GA Band]

Call to Worship

GINI COURTER: From all points of the compass, we gather here, in spirit, in body. Elsewhere, in bits, in bytes, and in bandwidth. Gathered together to make a joyful noise.

[CHEERING]

GINI COURTER: Because we know that this is the good. It is good to celebrate. It is good to celebrate together. Come beloveds, let us worship.

Processional/Hymn*: “Gather the Spirit”

[Words and music by Jim Scott]

JASON SHELTON: I invite you to join in our processional hymn, "Gather the Spirit", words and music by Jim Scott. We invite you to rise in body or in spirit, and join in singing with gusto.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[AUDIENCE SINGS "GATHER THE SPIRIT"]

Opening Words

REV. WILLIAM SINKFORD: Come into this circle of caring and commitment. Bring your triumphs and your struggles. Bring your questions and your certainties. Bring your confidence and your longing. You need not check any part of yourself to enter in. All that you are will bless us, and together we can bless the world. The spirit of life calls out, come, come, whoever you are. Keep the circle always open.

Welcome

REV. STEFAN JONASSON: Welcome to this most unconventional of Unitarian Universalist congregations. A congregation which spans the globe and is as close to you as your own heart. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for being here for this momentous occasion in the history of our congregation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the dedicated board of Church of the Larger Fellowship. To thank the search committee which presented us with such a marvelous candidate for a ministry. To thank the staff of Church of the Larger Fellowship. And to name one of those staff members in particular, Lorraine Dennis, who worked so diligently and well to keep everything together through this time of transition.

Welcome to you all. Welcome to the rich heritage for which our congregation stands. Welcome to you all. Welcome to the mission upon which you are about to embark.

REV. PETER MORALES: And I think it's only fitting that our chalice today is an electronic chalice for CLF. I guess we're forbidden to have flame.

It's good to be here at the worship service of our largest congregation of the association. Our association has around 160,000 adult members. And yet we know that more than 600,000 people in the United States claim to be Unitarian Universalist. And that doesn't begin to count the hundreds of thousands, nay, millions of people, in our country and beyond, who are our brothers and sisters in faith. Who care about compassion, who care about human dignity, who care about openness to a number of religious traditions.

So the CLF has a critical role to play in reaching these people that are beyond the reach of our brick and mortar congregations. Of creating electronic community in this electronic page. So we light this virtual chalice, this electronic chalice today, in hope, in anticipation of working together, as partners to share our faith, in the 21st century.

Responsive Reading

REV. LYNN UNGAR: Please join with us in reading responsively. Your words are the ones in italics.

We arrive out of many singular rooms.

AUDIENCE: From hotel rooms to hospitals and homes nearby.

REV. PATRICIA FRANZ But because we are the Church of the Larger Fellowship, a church without walls, we also arrive via streaming video, via podcast, through the website, and the printed page.

AUDIENCE: We arrive from living rooms where the only six Unitarian Universalists in town gather.

REV. LYNN UNGAR: We arrive from prison cells, in which the arrival of Quest or a letter from a pen pal can be the highlight of our week.

AUDIENCE: We arrive from college dorm rooms and from the common rooms of homes for the elderly.

REV. PATRICIA FRANZ We arrive from internet cafes in countries where straying from the state religion can be a capital offense.

AUDIENCE: We arrive from kitchen tables at which families gather to learn together what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist.

REV. LYNN UNGAR: And we arrive from bedrooms where, behind closed doors, teens search for a religion that feels true to their own hearts and minds.

AUDIENCE: We arrive from the moving room of a car in which a CLF member is listening to a podcast on the way to work.

REV. PATRICIA FRANZ And from the trudge of a vast battleship crossing the Pacific.

AUDIENCE: We arrive from the home offices of seekers and from libraries where long-term UUs come to seek the comfort of community in a new town.

REV. LYNN UNGAR: We arrive out of many singular rooms, but whether we have traveled here by foot or by plane, by DSL, dial-up, cable, or post, we are all together, however separated by time and place.

AUDIENCE: We are one community, in which all people of good faith are welcome.

REV. PATRICIA FRANZ It is good to be here together.

Blessing This Congregation

REV. JANE RZEPKA: Indeed, we have arrived. Arrived from many singular rooms. Arrived to install a new minister. And here's the thing. She's going to be great. And with Meg, you're going to be great. And with you and Meg together, Unitarian Universalism as a whole will be that much greater. Yep, we have arrived all right. Arrived from hither and yon to install our new minister. Speakers galore, songs and little rituals, as fancy as we ever get. And what's the centerpiece? What's the highlight? The point of the day? Your words. The congregation's words in the act of installation. You are the ones who will make Meg our minister. So thank goodness you have arrived. Arrived from your singular rooms. You are the people of the hour. You and Meg. You with Meg. You with Meg, gathering the spirit and harnessing the power. Together, you're going to be great.

Sermon

REV. NATE WALKER: Hello, all you beautiful people. Hi. You should know something about my preaching philosophy before we begin. It's simple. Nate, no one's listening to you. I mean it. I'm totally serious. My sermons are not designed to be heard. They are invitations to listen to that which is within and beyond. Let us begin.

My parents had a vision to transform 40 acres of desert in northern Nevada into a lush alfalfa farm. They could not do it alone, so they solicited all the help that they could get, including me, their eldest son. I was eight years old when driving a beat up Ford, while my dad stood in the bed of the pickup, and threw fence posts into the drought-stricken sand. We cultivated the soil, and constructed huge pipes on wheels to spread the water from one side of the farm to the next, and back again.

Eventually the dream came true. The 40 acres of desert was transformed into a lush sea of green. I was taught early that it is possible to reap what you sow. A metaphor used by many, many sacred texts.

Although my folks were not religious, they were devotional. Every Sunday we went horseback riding in the Sierra Nevadas. I never explicitly asked them, but always suspected that they were the founders of the equestrian religion. After setting up camp, we would sit around a campfire and tell stories. My mom and brother would pull out their guitars. We'd sing songs. My dad would recite poetry, and we'd sit in silence, and we'd make wishes on falling stars. Surrounded by the beauty of Lake Tahoe, the material, the tangible, the natural became a catalyst for our reflections on the non-material aspects of life.

But there came a time when not even nature could address social questions. At the age of 15, my dad found a love letter in my pants pocket, addressed to my boyfriend, It was 1991. I had started my first year of high school, where my classmates were preoccupied with the rodeo. And where their trucks were armed with gun racks. In response to my coming out, my grandmother grabbed my hand and said, I hear there's a lesbian up at the Unitarian Fellowship.

[LAUGHTER]

REV. NATE WALKER: Yeah. And so off we went, to meet the lesbian. But I have a confession to make. I don't actually remember meeting the lesbian.

But what I do remember is that this little fellowship of a dozen people met in a trailer in Reno, Nevada. Having built a new sanctuary next to that same trailer, the UU [Unitarian Universalist] Fellowship of Northern Nevada is now over 200 members strong. That deserves some love. I'm so proud of that.

[APPLAUSE]

REV. NATE WALKER: I found something remarkable that day. Community. It was a community of people who renounced fanaticism. They proclaimed reason. They promoted religious freedom, and cultivated humanity. I am aware that this small gaggle of UUs and a lesbian—

[LAUGHTER]

REV. NATE WALKER: They developed content. They used different content from stuff that was provided by the Church of the Larger Fellowship. I remember my first experience was saying, what's a church in a box? And we'd open up the materials and a man would read. And it was so simple. We would reflect upon our lives, and sing songs, and just be together. It was in that moment that something remarkable happened. These simple exchanges of humanity, those simple exchanges created wonder. And I wonder if this small group of people felt like they were planting seeds in a drought-stricken land. Little did they know what they would reap, how the very act of planting this Fellowship saved my life. Literally.

In my nightstand laid a knife, a note, and a calendar. I was counting down the days with the intent to take my own life. Unbeknownst to my grandmother, there were only two days left to the countdown before that fateful Sunday morning. A small group gathered and provided me an oasis from the desert of despair. I was hungry for belonging, and they fed me hospitality. I was thirsty for self-worth, and they offered me a cup of acceptance. I was a stranger and they welcomed me. And together, we knew freedom.

In this point in time, the Church of the Larger Fellowship was aware that printed material was the most efficient way to disseminate the saving message of Unitarian Universalism. The founders of this local Fellowship knew that the most accessible place to advertise their location was in a— you might remember this— a phone book. So my grandmother, she used the yellow pages to find the address. She then gave me a folded map, and we drove nearly an hour to gather in fellowship.

Today, the CLF is exploring innovative methods to serve disperse people throughout the globe. Think for a moment the kinds of tools we now have at our disposal to achieve this goal. But looking back on how technology has changed in the last 10 years, imagine what might come in the next 10 years. As a rookie minister in the age of technology, it's only right for me to acknowledge the speed by which our world has changed.

When I was eight, the neighboring farms all shared one single party line, and therefore the technological training that I had consisted of mastering the art of lifting the receiver without anyone noticing I was eavesdropping.

[LAUGHTER]

REV. NATE WALKER: Yeah. I am a part of that last generation who learned how to type on a typewriter. The last generation who had handwritten pen pals. The last generation that listened to records, 8-tracks, and tapes. Who rented movies from stores. Watched them on VCRs. The last generation to write checks.

Today, eight-year-olds are learning to read and type by sending text messages. They have video pals from across the world, and use translating software to communicate. They eavesdrop by leaving their iTouch on record while they leave the room, giggling. Today we are trained to download music and movies, to instantly get everything we want, to swipe cards rather than exchange green paper. When we want to find directions, we use our phones to show us the most efficient route, based on a global positioning system. And when we do arrive, we broadcast it to the world. Our world is changing. And change is inevitable.

But what else is change? Could it be an invitation for us to transform? I'm reminded of the words of Huston Smith, a scholar of comparative religions, who said, "the century's technological advances must be matched by comparable advances in human relations." This is the primary question that CLF is now poised to ask. How will we use technology to cultivate humanity? How will we use the tools of our time to be the religion of our time? How will we reach those wandering in the deserts of despair? How will we overcome the boundaries of time and place to achieve things that we could not do otherwise?

Take for instance, a love story. The story of a bride and groom, whose mothers were ill, and unable to attend their wedding. This couple gathered with a few friends in the historic chapel of the first Unitarian Church of Philadelphia. And with a laptop, we Skyped in one mother from the Ukraine, the other from Los Angeles. And from across the wall of the world, each mother witnessed the wedding from their hospital beds. After the ceremony, we cuddled around the laptop screens to take a photo of the united families. Thanks to technology, we were able to achieve something that would not otherwise been possible.

And so members of the great Church of the Larger Fellowship, the quest has begun. What stakes will you make? What stakes will you claim? How will you collectively master these two goals? The art of being a religion of our time and the art of being human. Keep using technology effectively, but always remember that it's not about the gadgets. It's about connecting. It's about connecting opportunities. It's about connecting, creating opportunities for intimacy, for cultivating humanity. In an age of technological advancements, there must be, there must be comparable advances in human relations.

And all we have to do is create a safe place, whether real or virtual, where people can gather. To be known, to know that they matter, to know that they belong. It will take a simple invitation to gather, and something magical will happen. When gathering, our living tradition will teach them how to—as Maya Angelou says—scribe their worth into the image of their most private need. And sculpt their dignity into the image of their most public selves. They will do this when they gather in trailers, at kitchen tables, in internet cafes, and prison cells. They will do this whether they are online or off to serve our country. And so let us never forget that no matter how fast technology may evolve, one thing will always remain constant. People will gather. They will gather time and time again to celebrate, to mourn, to tell stories, to sing songs, to sit in silence, and make meaning of their lives.

And so, dear members of the fantastic Church of the Larger Fellowship, continue to serve disperse people throughout the globe. Continue to create ways to gather where there is no such opportunity. Continue to use technology to cultivate humanity.

And Meg, we all know that you are the right person at the right time to achieve these goals. We are so proud you are our minister. You know that it's not about the gadgets. It's all about connection, the human connection. It's about being a religion of our time for the people of our time. And just you wait, because people will come. Because soon enough, some grandmother from some remote corner of the world is going to come to you and ask, are you the lesbian of the Larger Fellowship?

[LAUGHTER]

[APPLAUSE]

REV. NATE WALKER: Are you? Yeah. Soon enough. And in that remarkable moment, you're going to realize something important. That the grandmother is not alone. At her side is a child. That child has long since mastered the art of despair.

And then that's when you'll reach out, you'll kindle a flame, and tell some stories. You'll sit in silence, and make 1,000 wishes into the sunrise. And together, you will look out into the landscape of that once drought-stricken desert, and bask in abundance. And together, you will know freedom. Blessings on your ministry, and blessings on your ministry together. Amen.

[APPLAUSE]

Musical Meditation: “Life Calls Us On”

[Words and music by Jason Shelton and printed in the insert in your order of service.]

JASON SHELTON: You'll find our hymn in your order of service.

[SIDE CONVERSATION]

JASON SHELTON: You'll find the hymn, "Life Calls Us On" in your order of service. The words to this hymn were written by my dear friend and colleague, the Reverend Kendall Gibbons, who is right up here. We are going to sing the first verse for you so you can learn it, and then I'll invite you after that first verse to rise in body or in spirit, and join in singing the second verses and the verses following.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[SINGING "LIFE CALLS US ON"]

Presentation of Minister

ALISON MILLER: My name is Alison Miller and I serve our congregation in Morristown, New Jersey, founded by the CLF, and now grown to 335 adults, and 150 children and youth. I am here on behalf of my fellow members on the ministerial search committee, including Mark Gibbons, Lois Reborne, Eric Banner, and our chair, the Reverend Ken Sawyer. And I am honored to be here today, presenting in this ritual, our choice, the Reverend Meg Riley.

I will be very brief, both in the interest of time and because I think that most of you already know a lot about Meg. However, I want you to know a couple of things about the search. First, we had a huge number of very talented candidates apply for the CLF senior minister position. In fact, I believe that we had the largest number of candidates for any congregation in our association.

But second, I want you to know that Meg was our first choice, in terms of her particular blend of skills, passions, and vision for the CLF at this time in history. And I will just touch on a few of the reasons why this is so. Meg's grounding as a Unitarian Universalist began in a fellowship that was started by the CLF. And so she brings a sense of gratitude for what our community, for what this congregation has done and will do to grow our faith. Meg also has an incredible ability to be both a public voice and a private ear. I must tell you that we heard time and again, testimonies from people, maybe from some of you, about their admiration for her public witness efforts, and also her ability to counsel privately during times of trial. Ministry in this congregation will call her often to witness, to speak, and to enliven her community on a big stage like today's, or that of the internet. And equally it will call her to pastor in small settings, like a phone call, or a text.

Meg is a powerhouse minister on her own, and yet ministers and lay leaders across our association testify to her ability to share the stage with them, and to help unlock their lights, and to let it shine.

Finally, we heard her excitement, her vision, and her unwavering belief that the CLF can be a vehicle for Unitarian Universalism to thrive in the 21st century. And the online sanctuary project that you'll hear more about is a taste of that vision. In short, we are thrilled she said yes.

Act of Installation

REV. STEFAN JONASSON AND LUCIA SANTINI FIELD: The Church of the Larger Fellowship is a unique congregation, comprised of thousands of members from all over the world. As a church without walls, the CLF also holds the particular mission of reaching out to those who might seek our saving message. This is no ordinary church. And this is no ordinary installation. Many members and friends are joining us via the internet, as we stream this event. Others are in prison, able to join us only in spirit, or are asleep in distant time zones. To bring into the room those who could not be here face to face today, we have pointed the first names and locations of all CLF members, and divided them up among some of your orders of service. In this way, we attempt to bring our far flung congregation together. On behalf of yourself and those whose names you carry, do you affirm your intention to call Meg A. Riley to be our senior minister? If so, please signify by saying or typing, we do.

AUDIENCE: We do.

REV. STEFAN JONASSON AND LUCIA SANTINI FIELD:Meg, we ask you to serve us wherever we are, and however we find you, by phone or by mail, by internet and in person, we ask you to serve us whoever we are, seeker and religious professional, prisoner, young adult, and veteran. As ours is a church without walls, yours is a ministry without walls. We ask you to honor our sacred trust by conducting yourself with integrity in the world that is your parish. We ask you to relate with us honestly and openly, sharing of yourself and your spiritual journey, as we share ours. We ask you to lead us into ever deeper and more ethical relationships with ourselves, each other, and the world around us. We ask you to seek ever new ways to be in touch with us, and to let us know how to find you, and to find one another, for spiritual connection. We promise you a free pulpit, the cooperation of our hearts and hands, and our commitment to respect you as a spiritual leader in our community. Even as we also honor you as a human being with quirks, imperfections, and needs.

Do you, Meg Riley, accept our invitation to enter this covenantal relationship with us?

MEG RILEY: I do. With a deep sense of gratitude and delight, humility and responsibility, I take up my ministry with you. I pray I will be worthy of your trust, that you've given me, and that together we may envision and grow into a new ministry that we create together.

AUDIENCE: May we accomplish together what none of us can do alone, creating and sustaining spiritual community for all who seek our liberal faith.

[APPLAUSE]

A Special Word

DENISE DAVIDOFF: Who are those guys? When I accepted Lee Barker's invitation to join the staff of Meadville Lombard Theological School as senior consultant for development, I promised him I would never overtly fund raise for another Unitarian Universalist institution, particularly at general assembly. So queue up the choir singing, "though you've broken your vows a thousand times."

[LAUGHTER]

DENISE DAVIDOFF: Actually, I am soliciting pledges for the Church of the Larger Fellowship this afternoon, not just because I love and admire Meg Riley, and have for decades, but because there are meaningful parallels between what's going on in our institutions, Meadville, and the CLF, that deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated, and of course funded. The key word here is innovation. The key people in our school Lee Barker and his board, and the key people in CLF, Meg Riley and her board, know at a bone-deep level that fulfilling a core mission doesn't mean being held hostage to old ways of pursuing that mission. To the contrary, being faithful to mission requires willingness to identify and inaugurate new, even radical, even scary, changes.

I love change. And I love the CLF board for using a recent generous bequest to create a challenge fund to make Meg's and their dream of inaugurating an online sanctuary a reality. Here's the deal, folks. Take out these pledge cards. They look like this, black type on white stock, and an explanation, and a yellow envelope, and think about this. For every dollar of funding you pledge to the CLF today, or anytime during this GA, or for that matter, during the 31 days of July, the CLF board will add a dollar from its bequest. Such a deal. An online sanctuary? Online sanctuary. I like the way that sounds. And it sounds like an innovation to me, so take out your pen or your pencil, and write your pledge on that card, as the ushers pass among us. And please, more generously than you'd planned. It's Meg. Celebrate her in style.

Now here's my pledge card, and Nate, this is what we call a check.

[LAUGHTER]

DENISE DAVIDOFF: Go for it.

Anthem: “Standing On The Side Of Love”

[Words and music by Jason Shelton, Jeannie Gagne, soloist]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[SINGING] [APPLAUSE]

REV. ABHI JANAMANCHI: Let's give a big hand to our singers. Thank you.

[APPLAUSE]

Charge to Minister

REV. ABHI JANAMANCHI: So I'm faced with the dilemma of charging someone who is supercharged. Who attuned to what life is calling her to do. And who is already engaged in building an exciting, innovative, and social media and technologically savvy outreach ministry. So after some pondering, I settled on three things. Right, Peter?

I charge you, Meg, to provide a multicultural ministry. Because the world in which we live in demands a multicultural pluralistic ministry. Our faith impels us to move beyond mere tolerance, which today tends more often to be a mask or shield for perpetuating certain forms of intolerance, prejudice, and hate. Our faith impels us to practice radical and revolutionary hospitality, by embracing and loving the stranger. By accepting and engaging with diversity. It reminds us that a religious community is created and sustained, not through achieving agreement, but through achieving understanding and relationship.

So continue to invite us to join with others whose lives we do not yet know. Help us build bridges. Help us be bridges, across chasms of ignorance, fear, and misunderstanding. Help us cross borders, both geographic, virtual, and spiritual. Help us to learn to inhabit the global village as faithful people.

I charge you to provide an edgy ministry. Continue to allow yourself to have that edge. Much sharpness in your spiritual discernment. And as my dear friend Barbara Peskin likes to say, some of the bile of the prophets who could not stomach deceit, oppression, or injustice, afflict the comfortable while continuing to comfort the afflicted. Especially those who live and move on the edges, the margins. So prophesy. Speak the truth in love, let our history speak through you to the needs of this time and the people you serve. Let yourself be swept up, raised up, carried on wings, like Amelia, whose middle name you share. Yea, lifted by the voices of all those ministers, poets, sages, and sinners, who cried and sang and sacrificed their lives, so that we all could be here today.

And I charge you to be grounded. For you see, the accelerated, speed-addicted, and instant gratification seeking world in which we live in today, demands a grounded and grounding ministry. Our lives are harried and rushed. Our hearts and souls are anxious. And our relationships more neglected than ever. So a ministry in our age must be grounded indeed, to help us stop. To see our lives more often, more constantly, our lives not as they seem, as they pass us by, but under, as they will remain, when their story is over. So remember to cut yourself the same kind of slack that you readily give to others. Be present to yourself and the [? okman ?], the divine spark that resides within you and me and us all, which in itself is often a struggle, but sometimes a dance. And once in awhile, a levitation of spiritual ecstasy.

So I charge you to provide a multicultural, and edgy, and a grounded ministry. M-E-G.

[LAUGHTER]

[APPLAUSE]

REV. ABHI JANAMANCHI: I charge you to be yourself.

Now if you had given me more time, I had other things to say about A-R-I-L-E-Y. So I will close with these words from Ralph Waldo Emerson, that our dear colleague Marni Harmony shared with me recently. He wrote these words in 1832, as notes to himself as a young minister. So I offer you this one sentence. "Thy life shall be as thy teachings. Brave, pure, truthful, beneficent, hopeful, cheerful, hospitable to all honest belief, all sincere thinkers, and active according to thy gifts and opportunities. Let thy soul be open. Go forth with thy message among thy fellow creatures. God bless you, and God bless the ministry you provide us."

[APPLAUSE]

Charge to Congregation

KATHLEEN MONTGOMERY: Well, this is fun, isn't it? Meg Riley and I both garden. And that sentence is the beginning and the end of what we have in common about gardens. My yard is small and pretty. It has a few carefully chosen trees and some delicate perennial beds. Meg's garden, on the other hand, Meg's yard is a wonder of vitality and courage and creativity. It's how I imagine Eden. I'd put good money on there being a few elves who live there. Her yard is medium-sized on a corner lot. Flowers grow next to vegetables, horseradish next to jacks-in-the-pulpit, ferns next to tomatoes, and every damn thing grows bigger and brighter and more lavishly than anything outside of Findhorn, the village in Scotland famed for some weird convergence of I don't know what that results in 42 pound cabbages and foot-wide peonies in barren soil.

A tour of Meg's garden can take hours. Her methods are nontraditional, to say the least. That is to say, she gets up at five every day in the summer, goes outside, and does whatever the spirit moves her to do. She pulls up weeds, plant things given to her by total strangers, gets rid of anything that isn't thriving, places a few new gazing balls around, and does a bit of meditation. And somehow, miraculously, it all works. She quotes me as having said to her once, after an afternoon in her yard, you know, the thing I love best about this spectacular yard of yours is that you don't have a clue what you're doing. And now I had meant that as a huge compliment. She may even have taken it as one. Because the truth is that none of us really have a clue what we're doing. Wendell Berry said, "the mind that is not baffled is not employed."

So to members of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, I am one. And to CLF supporters, here's what I charge you with, inspired by a few turns in Meg Riley's amazing garden. Have courage. Nothing important was ever accomplished without it. Make mistakes. If we don't, as we try together to create a new CLF for a new era, we'll have been a great deal too safe, and perhaps bore ourselves to death.

Those of us who cherish CLF are remarkably diverse, more than 3,500 of us from more than 40 countries. We come, as you've heard, from singular rooms. But all of us, singularly and together, care about this irregular congregation in our faith. A congregation uniquely qualified to surprise us with new ways of becoming a congregation. I charge you, I charge us, with remembering that life isn't flat, and thin, and realistic, but rather it's rich, and full of mystery, and surprise. Change is going to happen, we might as well embrace it. I charge us with being like that corner lot in Minneapolis. Full of surprise and courage, full of vitality and creativity. I charge us with becoming more like Meg's garden.

Prayer of Installation

REV. LAUREL HALLMAN: Let us join in prayer. God, you are the tenacious power that draws us toward one another when we would be far apart. You are the spirit that moves through prison walls, across geographic expanse, and beneath our own fears and doubts, to connect us. To draw us to one another in fellowship, in love. We give thanks for the promises and commitments we have made in this hour. Now we would be so bold as to ask for enlarged wisdom and courage, to enable us to meet the challenges that inevitably will come.

Most importantly on this day, we ask your blessing on our sister, your gifted worker in the fields of hope and change, Meg Riley. May her ministry within this vital congregation be full of grace and power, so that the promises made will be fulfilled in ways we cannot even yet imagine. All this we ask, in the names of all who have graced life, with their acts of freedom, and acts of love. Amen.

Benediction

MEG RILEY: I feel installed like a new iPhone app. Great the path before us lies, joyful pilgrims now we rise. Life calls us on. Life calls us on to do together what none of us can do alone. To see and be seen. To know and be known. To know ourselves and all beloved on this earth. Life calls us on.

Postlude*: “The Fire of Commitment”

[Words and music by Jason Shelton]

JASON SHELTON: Our closing hymn is "The Fire of Commitment". Please rise in body or in spirit and join in singing.

[SINGING]

[APPLAUSE]

JASON SHELTON: I'd like to acknowledge the Reverend Mary Katherine Morn who is often overlooked as the co-writer of the words of that hymn. Thank you, Mary Katherine.

About the Service Music

All the songs in this service are used with permission.

Many thanks to our musicians today:

  • The Rev. Jason Shelton, Director
  • Brian Foti, Drummer
  • Dana Decker, Music Director/Bassist
  • Mark Freundt, Keyboardist
  • And friends from the UU Musicians Network: Leon Burke, Gail Carey, Jeannie Gagne, David Glasgow, Kiya Heartwood, Sarah Dan Jones, Mary Neumann, Beth Norton, Nick Page

Thanks go as well to our ushers (Head Usher, Linda Melski).

Our heartfelt thanks to the following participants in our service:

  • The Rev. Jason Shelton, Associate Minister for Music, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, Tennessee
  • Gini Courter, Moderator, Unitarian Universalist Association
  • The Rev. William Sinkford, Senior Minister, First Unitarian Church, Portland, Oregon
  • The Rev. Stefan Jonasson, Co-chair, CLF Board of Directors, Large Congregations Director, Unitarian Universalist Association
  • The Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association
  • The Rev. Lynn Ungar, CLF Minister for Lifespan Learning
  • The Rev. Patrician Franz, CLF Director of Ministries for Prisoner Members
  • The Rev. Jane R. Rzepka, CLF Minister Emerita
  • The Rev. Nate Walker, Minister and Executive Director, First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • The Rev. Alison Miller, Senior Minister, Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Morristown, New Jersey
  • Lucia Santini Field, Co-chair, CLF Board of Directors
  • Denise Davidoff, former Chair, CLF Board of Directors, Meadville Lombard Theological School, Senior Consultant for Development and Alumni/ae Relations
  • The Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, former member, CLF Board of Directors, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, Florida
  • Kathleen Montgomery, Executive Vice President, Unitarian Universalist Association
  • The Rev. Laurel Hallman, Minister Emerita, First Unitarian Church of Dallas, Texas

CLF Board of Directors, 2010-2011

  • The Rev. Stefan Jonasson, Co-chair
  • Lucia Santini Field, Co-chair
  • The Rev. Brad Greeley
  • Ken Gross, Treasurer
  • The Rev. Sofia Betancourt
  • Arnold Bradburd
  • Mark Gibbons
  • The Rev. Alison Miller
  • Laura Jones

CLF Search Committee

  • The Rev. Ken Sawyer, Chair
  • Lois Reborne
  • Mark Gibbons
  • The Rev. Alison Miller
  • Eric Banner

The Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF), Unitarian Universalist, is a church without walls serving isolated religious liberals. We create community with our parishioners on the Web, through the mail, and on the phone and we support small congregations with worship and religious education resources. The CLF also creates programs that encourage the growth of Unitarian Universalism.

Please visit us.
Call us at (617) 948-6166.

CLF Worship Service and Senior Minister Installation is General Assembly 2011 event number 2065.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Monday, February 27, 2012.

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The Rev. Meg Riley was installed as the new senior minister of the Church of the Larger Fellowship during CLF's annual worship service. The Rev. Stefan Jonasson (left) and Lucia Santini Field (center), co-chairs of CLF's board of directors, formally installed Riley (right).


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