As some of you might know, I have begun–this fall–my tenth year serving as your Senior Leader. That anniversary has me feeling nostalgic, and I’ve been reflecting on why I came to join you in the first place! Those of you who were around in those days remember that I was invited to be the “candidate” for the position by a Leader Search Committee, who were tasked with managing the multi-month search to find (hopefully!) the right person. I spent four or five months getting to know those seven folks before I met a single other person at WES…and by the time I met anyone else, I’d basically already accepted the job, pending the all-important approval vote of the membership.
So those seven people, and the ethos they conveyed, were important to me and to my decision! And I can remember exactly why I said yes: because they made me laugh.
They made me laugh, they laughed themselves–and they also knew when to be thoughtful. I could see that they came from a community that understood deeply its mission of living an ethical life and creating a just world. I got to know WES through those folks, and I saw a group of people who took themselves seriously…but not too seriously.
For me, that combination was perfect. And I still see it at WES today. We can dress up in spandex hero costumes for the Auction and laugh our heads off, and then gather at Remembrance Day and cry with each other. And we–you–still take WES’ mission seriously.
That’s one reason that I enjoy WES’ membership meetings. We have one coming up this Sunday, November 5, and I hope I’ll see all of you there. (Well, okay, if *all* 340 of you were there, we might be a bit tight on space. But I hope I see MANY of you there!). It’s one of our yearly opportunities to take stock of how we are doing, to laugh a little and be serious and thoughtful too. Our new Moderator, Ashley Valm, will bring us together with care and intention. I’m looking forward to sharing updates on how we’ve grown and how are finances are doing, and I’m also hoping we’ll be able to talk together about how we talk with each other, how we approach conflict and difficult conversations–part of the Community Relations Committee’s emerging work around potential community guidelines. Your voice is so important in that conversation.
A community with no seriousness of purpose lacks meaning. A community that takes itself too seriously, on the other hand, lacks perspective. I’m glad to serve a congregation that manages to balance our deep commitment to the good with an equally important commitment to the joyful.
Amanda Poppei, Senior Leader