I look at congregational ministry as an ecosystem. To be a healthy system, each plant, animal, and smaller system must do its part, not only for its own health but for the health of the overall system. My role as minister in this system is as steward: encourage new growth, clean up water ways, maintain pathways and habitats, protect species, and more. I can do this best by paying attention to the ways that nature is already flourishing and suggesting tweaks, pruning, or repair as needed. This is done by partnering with and empowering those also engaged in stewardship and those for whom the ecosystem is their home.

As steward, aka minister, my job is to see the ecosystem as a whole, how the parts are functioning in light of the whole, and to listen to the whole system as it changes, adapts, and decides on new goals. My particular call to ministry is focused on creating healthy systems. My ministry experience combined with my particular skills is uniquely suited to foster robust congregational systems.

As Daoism shows, everything in this world is in constant flux. Our job, as modeled by nature, is to work with the change and adapt as needed. As an ecosystem needs to adapt to a summer of drought one year and an overly-wet spring another, so too a congregation needs to adapt to the constant change of congregational life and society.

This does not mean we always need to make huge changes, rather, we must be paying constant attention to the health of the system and build into the system the necessary pieces that allow us to adapt to change. Further, if we want a healthy ecosystem, not only does the system and its parts need to be healthy, but those who live in the system need to be healthy. As steward my role is to model health and to help others with their health. In a congregational system, this means attending to pastoral care, nurturing souls through worship, and engaging in religious education. As we expect the system to adapt and grow to the changes and experiences it encounters, so too should the inhabitants of the system. As Unitarian Universalists, I believe we are meant to embody our Unitarian Universalist principles: a lifelong process of transforming ourselves into our ultimate possibility, just as we transform our ecosystem into its ultimate form, that is, a model of ever-evolving Beloved Community here on earth.