Remember summer days spent in the library, cool and quiet as a tomb? I whiled away many hours browsing the stacks as a kid and even as an adult. My seminary’s library had concrete block study carrels deep in the bowels of the building that felt almost like bunkers.
I still remember when I got my first ministry job in a UU Fellowship, and the outgoing interim was giving me a tour of the office. When she included a lament about the slow internet I said, “Internet? I’m not sure I’ll really be using that very much while I’m at work.” Her eyes widened a bit and she said, “Um, I find it’s really helpful for sermon preparation, at least.” I waved her off. “Oh, I just go to the library for that.”
Just as I couldn’t imagine a time when I’d see the internet as part of the essential infrastructure of congregational work, I couldn’t begin to conceive a time in which that stalwart community institution, the library, would be closed for public health reasons. And may I say how grateful I am, especially now, for a solid internet connection at home and at the Fellowship and even in my pocket (via my phone).
Still, for those of us who remember the quiet, the cool, even the smell of the library, the fact that you can carry around a virtual library on your Kindle doesn’t quite replace the wonder of browsing those colorful spines, in their fascinating, interconnected-by-tens organizational scheme.
Can I still slake my curiosity and love of reading without the library? Of course I can. (I do indeed love my Kindle.) I recognize that having information online makes it much more accessible to a global community.
What about people in congregations, who love the bustle (or the quiet) and even the smell of the building, and who see the physical space as an essential part of staying connected? I should admit that I’m one of you, who loves not just the experience of congregational life but the practice of sharing it with others.
And, much as it would have been inconceivable to me just a few months ago, it seems that right now we need to find ways to keep the human connection alive and vital without gathering in person inside a beloved building that represents the love, sweat, and bold financial stewardship of many.
As I begin this interim ministry with UUFA I aim to seek out the ways we can connect with each other, our neighbors, and maybe even some people around Athens and beyond who can’t physically join us even in the best of (that is, non-pandemic) times. I look forward to meeting virtually, and when it’s safe for everyone, meeting in person, too. I have a boundless curiosity about UUFA, and I’m eager to know the people who made this Fellowship the vibrant place it is. Drop me a line at email@example.com, or get in touch with the Transitions Team.
I look forward to many creative connections with you!