History: Not Yester-year, but in These Moments

Barbara Turk, Archivist

History: Not Yester-year, but in These MomentsHAPPY MAY, HAPPY JUNE—Brides, graduations, retirements, anticipation of summer.

THANKS Janice Sylvesti and Dean Walchuk, moving off our board,  as of July 1st.  And Janice is retiring from KCC. Mid-June she and Joe will be moving.  Our loss, Eugene’s gain!

There is a  May-June retirement in Portland.  And it’s the perfect example of UUA’s Principle 5: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations, and in society at large.

On May 4th  I  ZOOM’ed Portland’s First Unitarian as Rev. Bill Sinkford bade farewell to The Alliance of the church. This May church members vote to accept  the incoming minister, Alison Miller.  Thus, she’ll be  their choice, not an assignee by a church official, or a bishop. (A Minister Search Committee, composed of church members, did what the title states—they SEARCHED.)

First Unitarian is pretty young, vs UUA congregations in eastern regions.  About 1861, and inception of the Ladies Sewing Circle, the Circle’s tradition has been: jump in, or stand back, or be trampled.  Remember, Portland was a frontier town, mostly bachelors. The ladies sewed for them, and raised money to organize a Unitarian fellowship. In 1865 they had funds to call a minister, and gain status as a church.

The Circle is now The Alliance, and men may join. Its many projects continue with its usual precision and completion (of which the military would be envious).  In addition to projects, The Alliance has marvelous speakers at September to May luncheons  (ZOOM remains optional).

Rev. Bill Sinkford came to First U  in 2010.  Previously he had been in Boston for 15 years working at UUA, including two 4-year terms as UUA president.  Prior to that he was a businessman.  Like all of us, he is no stranger to trials & tribulations.   But, his wit, charm, his brain, his love!

Soon Bill will no longer be a guiding light for Oregon’s largest UUA congregation (over 1,500); and  just three years shy of its 160th anniversary.  He stated,  “Ministers hold the whole, including a church’s legacy and history, by Collaboration & Connection”.

He saluted his marvelous co-ministers, the 12 + + lay-ministers,  the great staff,  all chairs, committees, and all who keep our principles in the front view of their lives.  He called it, ”Collaborative Governance”.  First U owns a full city block in downtown Portland.  Imagine the management and staff necessary for TWO historic church buildings, an office building, the Buchan (bue-can) Building, of which all Oregonians can proudly state, is a LEED construction.

Meantime in Klamath Falls, our history is our recent move  becoming tenants of, and beloved associates with Friends Church. No small (Klamath) potatoes; definitely akin to Bill’s “Collaboration, Connection”

May 4th Bill asked, ”How will we re-gather & accept/reject new post-COVID changes?”   BE OPEN, open to those who left the Beloved Community, for whatever reason. Let’s seek to draw them back.  And, OPEN to new folks. That’s what Spirit of Life does.”

“We’re in the meltdown of racism”. He added, “Look at the new UUA 8th Principle.  It proves our stance”.

Roe v Wade:  “If one did not see the reversal coming, one has been asleep.  Face it, the pendulum has swung.  Resistance to love has solidified into manipulate our system.  We’ve rested on our ‘win’ of 50 years ago. Success is difficult to maintain”.

Rev. Sinkford believes in LOVE. The future appears grim, but, “Our work becomes MORE important to evidence before the world”.

He confessed whenever a Child Dedication was scheduled, he called, “DIBS”. (Who in their right mind would challenge the senior minister?)   Bill adores babies & small children, as did our founder, Ben Kerns.

During the Q&A, so many questions!  I share two.

“How is a worship service constructed?”

—It’s an art form.  —Share what “they need” (aka: allow entrance of Spirit of Life).

—Maybe a poem is needed.  —Include what music can  bring to a service.

“What are you reading?”

—First, Bill looks forward to finishing a book. For years he’d read just pages, maybe a chapter, & always heard the ‘little reverend voice’, “You can use that, somewhere.”

—Presently he’s reading  LOVE SONGS by W. E. B.  DuBois.

For a  time he and Marie will be at All Souls in Washington, D.C., as it searches for a new minister.  They’ll  retain their Oregon home—grandchildren in Portland!

The Alliance meets their incoming minister at a May reception  (+ ZOOM).  In the spirit of fun, and honoring the role of the Ladies Sewing Circles, gloves and BIG HATS are encouraged.  (Imagine the chagrin of ministers & church goers whose sight was inhibited by gorgeous, but BIG hats! )

Rev. Sinkford noted the early seamstresses also raised money for a silver communion service for the church.  A WHAT???  Was it in part the eastern sea shore Christian influence on early Unitarianism??  I hope our Fall 2022 intern will have revelations on communion in UU halls of worship.  Stay tuned!