By Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen
Come thou fount of inspiration, turn our lives to higher ways. Lift our gloom and desperation, show the promise of this day. Help us bind ourselves in union, help our hands tell of our love. With thine aid, O fount of Justice, earth by fair as heaven above.”
Hello First Parish Cambridge! Happy Summer!
First, an introduction – I’m Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, a Unitarian Universalist community minister. I was joyfully ordained by you – the good people of First Parish Cambridge, about a year ago, in June 2013 after serving as your ministerial intern from 2010-2012.
As some of you know, I currently serve our UU movement by supporting youth-led social justice in Boston, Cambridge and the suburbs through a local nonprofit. As a community minister, part of how I nurture my ministry is through affiliation with a UU congregation. After some discernment and conversations with Susan Shepherd, Standing Committee chair, Revs. Fred Small, Lilia Cuervo and Mykal Slack, and DRE Mandy Neff, it became clear to me that First Parish in Cambridge is where I want to be affiliated as a community minister. I am inspired by this congregation’s justice ministry and energized by the idea of deepening my relationships with congregants, staff and lay leaders. In my community ministry, I serve many teens who live in neighborhoods in Cambridge and Somerville and who attend Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. It is this UU community that I want to continue to shape me as a minister, as a religious leader and justice-seeker.
I’m grateful and super excited to report that earlier this year, your Standing Committee voted to approve my affiliation!
So….what does this mean?
What is community ministry?
Community ministry is Unitarian Universalist ministry that happens beyond the context of a UU congregation. Community ministry may be hospital chaplaincy, pastoral counseling, spiritual direction or serving in leadership with our UUA or our District. For me, community ministry is interfaith social justice work.
I serve in community ministry as the full-time Director of Programs and Inclusion at Boston Mobilization, an organization in Harvard Square that supports youth-led social justice education and community organizing. Through my work with Boston Mobilization, I support the emotional, spiritual and identity development of teens, teach skills for social justice work, celebrate the joys, sorrows and milestones of our youth community, empower youth to act on issues ranging from minimum wage to diesel emission reduction and tend to the organizational wellbeing of a small nonprofit. In addition, I serve in other ministerial roles by guest preaching, officiating weddings, facilitating Young Adult Our Whole Lives, and serving on our Massachusetts Bay District Board. (continued on page 6)
What is affiliation?
Community ministers are affiliated with UU congregations. As a community minister in preliminary fellowship, I am required by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee to be affiliated with a UU congregation. Affiliate ministers are not part of the staff of a congregation. Instead, affiliate ministers and congregations are bound by covenants that articulate how they live out their shared ministry. Affiliate community ministers and UU congregations bind ourselves in union so that our hands may better tell of our love.
You may have questions:
The Covenant of Affiliation May 2014 between me and First Parish in Cambridge can be downloaded below.
Download PDF version:
Covenant of Affiliation
Download Word version: Covenant of Affiliation May 2014
More information about affiliation and community ministry in our movement can be found here: http://www.uuscm.org/GuideToAffiliationForCongregations.
I’m so excited to join you as your affiliate community minister!
In faith and justice,
Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen