This is a letter of introduction, or re-introduction. My name is Rylee Uhrich and I am a student minister working towards UU ordination living here in Olympia. I have been a member of OUUC since 2019, though I have not been directly involved during this extended period of social distancing.
The reason I am writing to all of you is to recommence my formal relationship with the congregation. The OUUC board signed as my sponsoring congregation in 2019 and interim minister Rev Eric Posa supported me in my initial application process with the UUA. I am now in conversation and covenant with Rev Mary Gear and excited to continue to develop in my calling through engagement at OUUC.
Here’s a little bit about who I am and what I’ve been up to. I started at Starr King School for the Ministry (SKSM) in 2018 to pursue my interest in professional chaplaincy. In 2020 I was encouraged by SKSM faculty to broaden my focus and also explore congregational ministry. I took a break from school to spend the 2020-2021 church year in a mid-pandemic multi-congregation internship in Arizona – it was very interesting! I am still in a process of discernment about how I will balance my interests in chaplaincy and congregational ministry. Presently I have shifted to a Masters in Social Work degree program at Louisiana State University – all online of course! If that leaves you wondering about me, then you’re in luck! I will be appearing on the “After Church with Melanie Ransom” talk show on March 13th, so hopefully that will be another way we can continue to get to know each other.
Perhaps for some of you this leaves some unanswered questions. What does it mean for OUUC to be a sponsoring congregation, or for myself to be the student minister in your midst? There is a lot that is undefined about the role of sponsoring congregation and after talking with many colleagues I have landed on the understanding that everyone does it differently. So, we get to create this journey together. Rev Mary and I have agreed that I will do some occasional preaching and potentially support or participate in other congregational teams, we are building together in a slow and steady way. I am not an employee of the congregation but I am a professional member. There is no financial obligation on the church as my sponsoring congregation. This is an opportunity to be a teaching congregation and support me in my developing ministry. And we will continue to create the map for this journey by traveling together!
So, here we go, as this new year rolls in we have a new chance to learn together and to learn about each other! I’m so grateful to be deeping into my UU identity and ministry in this congregation. I am especially grateful to all of you who have continued to tend the OUUC hearth over many years and particularly during this period of pandemic. I am curious about and delighted at our chance to go on this journey together.