From the Minister
A few days ago, I had the first of what I assume will be many similar moments: a meeting that I thought was on Zoom turned out to be in person. An easy mistake to make, since so many meetings over the last year have been on Zoom. The most important piece of my job is connecting with members and friends of the congregation, whether on Zoom on in person. In lieu of a newsletter article this month, I’m running two items that show up every year or two in this newsletter: How to get in contact with me, and an article originally written by the Rev. Peter Lee Scott in 1957, for the newsletter at the Elm City Universalist Church in New Haven, CT.
How to Meet with Oscar
The most straightforward way to set up a meeting with me is to go through Calendly, a scheduling system I use to manage my calendar and avoid double bookings. If you visit https://calendly.com/revsinclair, you can set a time and a type of meeting (30 min, 1 hr, at UCL, on zoom, etc.), and it will automatically show up on my calendar, as well as sending you a reminder email the day before our meeting.
You can also reach me directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling or texting 402.937.9145, or by dropping into the church office most afternoons Mon-Thurs. If I am unable to meet with you immediately, we can set up a time for an appointment.
When to Call the Minister
“When To Call The Minister” has been recreated and revised, attributed and mis–attributed, over the years, as things in newsletters often are. Universalist minister Peter Lee Scott wrote the original for the Elm City Universalist Church in New Haven, CT in 1957. He reports being amazed and amused to see it appear in so many other newsletters.
When you haven’t met me yet, but would like to.
When you have problems to discuss—about anything.
When a sympathetic ear might help.
When you’re going in the hospital or know someone else who is.
When someone close to you dies or is critically ill.
When you’re planning to be married, or might need to be.
When you return from vacation.
When your daughter graduates from college.
When you have a child to be dedicated.
When you’re pregnant but wish you weren’t.
When you’ve been arrested, or ought to be.
When you want to learn more about Unitarian Universalism.
When you’re scared.
When you’d like to make a bequest to the church.
When your son gets a big promotion.
When you’re considering joining the congregation.
When you’d like to show us what a good cook you are!
When a friend of yours wants to know more about our faith.
When you have suggestions about the programs for the church.
When you have a suggestion for a sermon or worship service.
When you’d like to help with committee work or other congregational activities.
When you want to discuss community issues or would like my involvement.
When you’re mad at me.
When you’d like to talk religion with me.
On Friday, June 18, the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department announced the end of all remaining Directed Health Measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While there is still reason to be cautious, as we each are vaccinated, we will start to engage the world in ways that we have not over the last year. This process of reentry is complex and multi-layered. As a simple example: children under twelve are not yet able to be vaccinated, so my family has to take that into consideration when we decide what events to attend with our three-year-old. On top of navigating ongoing risk for children and other vulnerable groups, we are also learning how to be human together again.
This is not the first emotionally intense reentry process I have gone through. Ten years ago I came home from the Peace Corps, not quite sure how to interact with people. The last few months had been hard, and I was relatively isolated at my site. Bobete is a rural village, and I could easily go weeks or months at a time without being around more than the few hundred people that lived in the valley. Coming back to the states was an intense experience for an introvert.
The first apartment where I lived in Baltimore was three blocks north of Camden Yards. That whole first summer, I would come home from work, see the light from the stadium, and sit in the cheap seats, filling out a scorecard. It was a way to be around people, to do some informal exposure therapy, without any expectation of interaction. Keeping score is a meditative act- keeping score keeps your attention on the game, on each pitch as it happens. I wasn't really an Orioles fan before then, but I ended up seeing over thirty games in the 2010 season, as I put myself back together and figured out how I was going to be in the world.
So it is probably not a surprise that my first big event post-vaccination a decade after that summer was a Lincoln Saltdogs game, alone, with a scorecard to fill out. Midway through the sixth inning a guy walked up behind me to ask "Hey are you like, one of the team stats guys?"
"No, I just do this for fun."
Fun, yes, but also a way to engage with the world on terms that I chose and have some control over. As we move into a community without Directed Health Measures, and reenter communities we have been away from for a year or more, this is my hope for you: that you will find ways to manage that reentry on your own terms, paying attention to how you feel at each stage, and finding ways to embrace both caution and joy.
Rev. Oscar Sinclair serves as the Settled Minister for The Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska.