The Gifts of Our Faith

by Colleen McCourt, Trustee, UUCWC Board of Trustees

As we end another year together at UUCWC, I have been reflecting on all the gifts my family and I have received from our church – from the staff, the tech team, committees, and small group ministries – and all of you in our beloved community.

In the past few months alone, I have been particularly aware of the gifts UUCWC provides. I continue to experience a deep connection with my Chalice Circle. My husband, Mike, started a new spiritual journey with Wellspring. On any given Sunday, our kids, Lucy and Elliot, feel at home whether in the service, with their peers and volunteers in youth group, or with all the kids on Super Sunday. As an offshoot of our involvement with the Racial Justice Ministry, we have started attending Freedom Friday open mic nights at the Trenton Museum, to get to know the communities beyond our neighborhood better.

At UUCWC, we recently attended a sobering, powerful, and beautiful vigil for the Trans Day of Remembrance and Resilience. We also attended a festive Welcome Table Wednesday potluck and decorated the church to the sounds of a carol sing-along. On both occasions, in both sorrow and joy, the love was palpable.

We have also received the gifts of Sunday services – where our acorns and pumpkin seeds have us thinking about connections to the world around us, where we are gifted with original songs from our talented minister and music director, where we feel a deep sense of connection in the sanctuary or online. These gifts feel unique and specific to UUCWC, bringing us closer together and empowering us to carry the feelings and messages beyond Sunday morning and hold them with us all week (literally – I can’t stop singing those songs or seeing Earth Teachers everywhere!).

When all these elements come together, it can feel like magic. Or, as with December’s monthly theme, like Mystery. And there is probably some truth to that – some magic spark. It’s tempting to see it that way. But on a deeper level, I know that the gifts we receive from UUCWC come from a deeper place than magic, and it’s no mystery. Rather, it’s the result of collective talent, artistry, vision, hard work, intentionality, and collaboration, from our dedicated staff, church leaders and volunteers.

This church year, we have welcomed Julie Rigano as our Director of Family Ministry and Lisa Schilansky as our Ministerial Intern and made permanent Dr. Erin Busch’s position as Director of Music Ministry. All of them have brought unique talents and energy to the congregation and created diverse opportunities for connection and renewal. Despite a reduction in their hours, Congregational Administrator Susan Irgang and Director of Congregational Life Robin Pugh continue to serve the congregation in critical ways – many obvious, and others invisible in their seamlessness. Sunday Steward/Sexton Robert Santiago, Office Assistant Rachel Hansen, A/V Tech Ariel Schwartz, and Controller Lynne Quinto keep every conceivable aspect of the church running smoothly. Rev. Kim, currently the only full-time staff member at UUCWC, delivers leadership, guidance and pastoral care in times that continue to shift, change, and challenge our world and our community.

I’ve been a member of UUCWC for seven years and I’m privileged to serve the congregation in my fourth year on the Board. In that context, I know that we’ve gone through many changes and that it’s taken a lot of creativity, vision, faith and sometimes sacrifice to get to where we are right now. I know that those things will continue, as the church continues to evolve, and we continue to evaluate our church budget and priorities.

But, something feels special to me about the moment that we’re in, and the direction we’re going. For that reason, my family feels called to give to UUCWC’s end-of-year appeal, in appreciation for the gifts we’ve received from UUCWC this year, and in the commitment to keep them going. We know that it takes more than magic to sustain a church. It takes real dollars and resources to build the beautiful mystery we experience together on Sundays, in small groups, in potluck gatherings, in friendships and in pastoral care. We hope that you can give to UUCWC’s year-end appeal as generously as you are able.

A congregant and friend recently told me that she enjoys seeing my family in church, because we seem to be in harmony with each other. While it was an incredibly kind thing to say, and (as the parent of two teenagers) to hear, I can’t take all the credit. It’s part of the gift of UUCWC. In many ways, we are at best with ourselves and each other here. There’s a feeling of ease and connection that settles on us when we enter the sanctuary (or sign on), that comes from feeling truly seen, welcomed and loved by so many of you. To paraphrase the 2023 Busch/Wildszewski hit “Teach Me,” sometimes, out in the world we grow hardened, and hide within. UUCWC allows us to unfurl. That’s a gift we haven’t found anywhere else, and one that keeps on giving.

We know that there are many financial asks at this time of year, and many ways your hearts are called to give. We know “the world asks and demands,” and many of us “are holding on close.” We also know that we were “made first of generosity, one seed of many.” We hope that you will consider giving generously to UUCWC’s year-end appeal and help to grow the gifts of our faith “from leaf to vine to root to fruit.”