A Message from Rev. Glenn Farley upon Retirement
April 29th, 2020
Dear SUUF Members & Friends,
On Tuesday, April 28th, 2020, I informed the Sedona UU Fellowship (SUUF) Board of Trustees that I will conclude my ministry to SUUF at the end of the current fellowship year, June 30th, 2020.
What we have built together over the past eight years is unique. Contract Ministers at small UU congregations usually don’t last for eight years, but we did!
When I arrived at Sedona UU Fellowship in September 2012, the total pledges that year was $36,600; membership was at 45.
This current year our membership is 70+ and the total combined pledges are over $70,000. This is membership growth greater than 50% over eight years and total pledge growth 90%+ over eight years.
We did this in an environment where mainline Christian Churches are rapidly declining nationally, and the population growth in Sedona was essentially flat.
In 2013, we expanded to offering service of celebration every Sunday, September-May, rather than only 3 Sundays Services a month.
In 2014, we welcomed Susannah Martin to lead us in song during Sunday Services and she has served us the past six years with such grace. Overnight, we transformed from a traditional service to a contemporary service; and this has introduced SUUF to many Sedona residents who otherwise might not have known us.
We became recognized as a Welcoming Congregation in 2016 after years of study, preparation, education, and advocacy.
We successfully mentored a student minister, Anthony Johnson, in 2017-2018, who is now a minister in preliminary fellowship with the UUA who is serving the UU congregation in Humboldt County, California. For this first time in our history, we were a “teaching congregation.”
Over the years, we became more connected and integrated with UUJAZ; the statewide justice & advocacy network of UU congregations in Arizona. We also built good connections with local social justice and advocacy organizations in the Verde Valley, such as PFLAG, Sedona Food Bank, Hope House & Verde Valley Sanctuary.
And more than a few Sedona residents now know that Unitarian Universalists exist here in Sedona (and are not affiliated with the Unity church)!
It is important for you to know that this decision to leave was mine and mine alone. I have a very strong and positive working relationship with SUUF President Chris Seeholzer and the current board of trustees. And I had very strong and positive relationships with the board during Scott Robinson’s presidency and during Craig Hartley’s presidency. At all times, now and for the past eight years, my relationship with the board has been based on respect and a shared commitment to fulfill the mission and vision of Sedona UU Fellowship.
We can only respond, the best we can, to our situation. Taking my leave, now, in the time of a global pandemic, in the midst of stay-in-place orders…leaves me feeling somber, as I cannot safely say good-bye in person. We will do the best we can, safely.
I don’t know what my future endeavors will be. I began looking in earnest for other ministry opportunities this week. I will share my plans with everyone when they are solidified.
I am so glad I ran into Diane Nadeau and Craig & Cornelia Hartley at UUA General Assembly in Phoenix in June 2012, (in 117 º heat!), that began us on this adventure. Sedona UU was and always will be my first ministry, and I will always remember you. I have loved serving this congregation and its members. I deeply appreciate all the support I have received.
In Gratitude, With Love,
Rev. Glenn C. Farley