“Look well to the growing edge.”Howard Thurman
I am honored to be chosen to serve as your minister. The church year is coming on quickly, and I have been in conversation with your Board and your Worship Committee to develop plans and reflect on goals for the coming year. I look forward to meeting all of you, learning what this church means to you, and understanding your unique perspectives and gifts, so that we may work together to build and sustain this faith community.
For now, I’d like to share some thoughts about my background, the path which led me to your door, and my hopes for this new shared ministry.
I chose the path of ministry after an established career in software development. More accurately, ministry chose me: it asked more of me, and promised more, inviting me to grow in ways I had not yet imagined and to make use of every gift I had. I went to seminary at Andover Newton Theological School, graduating in 2009. That same year, my home church in Nashua ordained me to the Unitarian Universalist ministry.
During my years in seminary I learned from books, from teachers and fellow students, and especially from practical experience. I served as a student minister at churches in West Roxbury and Middleborough, Massachusetts. During the summers, I served as a chaplain intern at Fletcher Allen Healthcare (UVM Medical Center) in Burlington, Vermont, where I helped patients, staff and families come to terms with serious illnesses and major life transitions. Although I considered a career in chaplaincy, I finally chose parish ministry, because I have seen how important a church can be in transforming the lives of its members, and all the lives they touch.
As I do this work, I continue to learn and grow, sometimes enriched by more formal education. In 2019, I completed a two-year certificate program in spiritual guidance at Rowe Center. I study and reflect alongside my colleagues in the UU Ministers Association. I take advantage of the fine workshops and webinars offered by our regional UUA and encourage church members – as I will encourage you – to participate alongside fellow congregations.
My theology has been shaped by liberal Christianity, Buddhism, science, and my affinity for the natural world in all its beauty and wonder. My church includes the woods and mountains of New England. I draw inspiration from the Transcendentalists of the nineteenth century and their spiritual descendants, and especially from Howard Thurman: the teacher, poet and mystic who provided spiritual underpinnings for the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. In the many sources of Unitarian Universalism, I trust that you find much to inspire you. Our tradition puts a high value on pluralism, and we deepen our faith commitments as we share them with one another.
Over the past ten years I have served small congregations in Billerica, Ashby, Wakefield and Leominster, Massachusetts. One thing they had in common was that they could not afford to hire a full-time settled minister. This takes nothing away from the caring, the courage, the resourcefulness and hope that sustain each one. Sometimes, Beloved Community comes in small packages. It requires clear priorities and tough choices. It requires shared ministry.
Shared ministry is what this congregation does, with the help and guidance of your minister, as you practice living out your values and fulfill the promises of your covenant. As your minister I will be proud to help you bring these things to fruition, keeping your goals in sharp focus and helping you turn your vision into reality.
Worship is a central spiritual practice for the congregation as a whole. It is a practice we do together, week after week and year after year, which feeds us spiritually and quickens our collective awareness as a faith community. I look forward to leading worship with you, whether in person or (for now, at least) in virtual space. I look forward to working with the Music Director and Worship Committee to create a sacred space in every service, including those which are lay-led or guest-led. I already have seen several of the vibrant and inspiring services you’ve held online. I will encourage those of you with interests and talents – with words, with music, with ritual – to lend your voice and participation this year.
This congregation supports one another in many ways. This has been especially true over the past six months during the public health crisis of COVID-19. Whether in virtual space or face to face, I am ready to offer my professional skills as your pastor; I’m here to listen to your hopes and aspirations, joys and struggles. In this unprecedented situation, let us draw on the rich resources of our Unitarian Universalism and our own, unique gifts. Let us grow together.
Rev. Bruce Taylor