Welcome Rev. Dr. Sarah Lenzi to UU Wellspring

sarah-lenzi-sept-2016The UU Wellspring Board of Directors is pleased to announce that the Rev. Dr. Lenzi has been hired to fill the newly created position of UU Wellspring Program Director, effective immediately. In this new role, Rev. Sarah will be the principal driver for the marketing, relationship building and structural adaptation of UU Wellspring and will work in partnership with the Board of Directors to bring this vision into reality. She will also assume responsibility for the day-to-day administration of the program.

Rev. Sarah is in her fourth year as the first full-time settled minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Hudson Valley, a small congregation in Westchester, NY.

“My call to ministry centers around spiritual depth and development – around the idea that at the heart of our individual work is figuring out how to make meaning of our struggles and joys, the challenges and triumphs of our lives,” she said. “The work of UU Wellspring fits perfectly with my vision for ministry and for the transformative potential of Unitarian Universalism.”

Rev. Sarah earned a B.A. in art history and religion from Williams College, Williamstown, Mass.; an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School; and both an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her ministerial internship at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, Virginia, a longtime UU Wellspring member congregation.

Rev. Sarah will attend her first UU Wellspring Board meeting on Sept. 21. During the transition and beyond, you can continue to reach a member of the UU Wellspring staff at contact@uuwellspring.org.

A Burning Bush

10367720 - grass fireI was walking my retriever in a nearby neighborhood where I don’t know anyone. It was a cool morning after some amazing winds had blown through the previous day. It was one of those early Mondays when I was questioning what I am doing with my life at this stage. Heavy, deep thoughts. At the same time, I was trying my best to practice being in the moment with my dear pet. Trying to be true to my Wellspring roots.

As we walked by a home set back from the road, I noticed some bushes burning alongside the garage. Bright flames, dark smoke. In about 10 seconds, my thoughts were: “Why are they using their fire pit so early in the morning?” to “Maybe it’s garbage. There is a town ordinance against that!” to “It must be kids who are skipping school,” to “Wait, there are no people, this is a FIRE!”

I ran down the driveway and confirmed the bushes were indeed in flames. I pounded on the door of the darkened house. No answer. Pulling my dog, I ran to the next-door neighbor’s house, as I’m trying to get my cell phone out. She cracked open the door, holding a little boy. I yelled to her about the fire, and she quickly dialed 911. She knew the house owners were away. Within 6 minutes, there were 4 fire trucks and lots of volunteer firefighters on the scene. (The little boy was thrilled.)

Once I realized all would be well, I had an inward chuckle at the occasional literalness of the Universe. Lawrence Kushner wrote, “The burning bush was not a miracle. It was a test. God wanted to find out if Moses could pay attention to something for more than a few minutes. When Moses did, God spoke. The trick is to pay attention to what is going on around you long enough to behold the miracle without falling asleep.”

I could have easily missed my ‘burning bush.” Walking down a street I rarely take, deep in existential thought about the purpose of my life. Maybe the purpose is to simply pay attention to what is right in front of me. Lost in thought, I could have easily missed the fire set back from the road. Thankfully I was also practicing in-the-moment dog-walking, my favorite spiritual practice.

Good deed done for the day by 7 am, I quietly slipped out of the crowd, an anonymous dog walker, and headed into the morning mist. I felt lighter, less heavy, grateful for my “burning bushes.” What might be right in front of you today?

July 15 is coming quickly!

UU Wellspring BannerThe summer is flying by! If you are interested in the newly created paid position of UU Wellspring Program Director, please apply by July 15.

Read more about the position here. To apply, simply email a resume, cover letter and references to contact@uuwellspring.org.

We hope to hear from YOU!



Paid Leadership Opportunity

Chalice w handsAre you looking for a part-time position? One that will help enable Unitarian Universalists across the country to learn more about and deepen their UU faith – and to strengthen UU churches at the same time? Then read more about our newly created position of UU Wellspring Program Director here.

Applying is simple. Just email a resume, cover letter and references to contact@uuwellspring.org by July 15, 2016.

Are you attending General Assembly in Columbus, OH, later this month? Look for several of our Board members and our founder, Rev. Jen Crow, who will be in attendance. They would be happy to talk with you about this opportunity and our vision for UU Wellspring going forward.

Thank you for considering this opportunity to engage in this entrepreneurial, community-based ministry.

For more information about UU Wellspring, visit www.uuwellspring.org.



My Cat as Spiritual Practice

YonderAt our Wellspring retreat back in September, we talked about spiritual practice as being regular, intentional, and deep. And it occurs to me that my cat has become a spiritual practice in my life, one that brings me joy and contentment.

 Her name is Yonder. She’s not allowed to sleep with us because she weighs more than a bowling ball, takes up a lot of the bed and tends to walk on my face early in the morning when she gets hungry. So when I get up, she’s waiting for me at the bedroom door, the first thing I see every morning. I pick her up and hold her close and pet her and feel her joyful purring against my body. If I could purr I would, because I’m so happy to see her again and to feel that unconditional love.

 Of course I know that she’s probably purring because she knows she’ll be fed soon, but it’s more than that. She’s purring because we’re together and I’m happy because we’re completely present with each other, totally in the moment.

 This little reunion with the holy happens every morning, with regularity and intent. Yonder deepens my connection to love, to the present moment, to joy. How could this cat not be spiritual practice?

Inside UU Wellspring

Chalice w handsIf you’ve ever wanted a glimpse of what a UU Wellspring session is like, and what difference it makes in people’s lives, please read the wonderful blog post below by Julie Fanselow, a participant in a first-year group. Thanks, Julie, for allowing us to share this.

It’s a great time of year to start planning for fall UU Wellspring groups. So if your congregation is thinking about offering UU Wellspring, please go to the Contact Us section of uuwellspring.org and let us know. We can help you plan for an experience that changes lives and strengthens churches.



The Color Orange

Orange sunriseRecently my spiritual director and I worked on a theme around the color orange. It’s a long story, but what’s important is it was helping my meditation practice. Two mornings after our initial conversation, at the end of my meditation I opened my eyes and saw a beautiful orange sunrise out my living room window. Pretty amazing for early February in the Snow Belt.

A few days later my spouse and I traveled to a different city for a few days. We walked into the car rental garage to pick up our car, and guess what color it was? ORANGE. I don’t know about you, but I have never been assigned an orange rental car…My spouse started complaining until I explained my recent Orange Streak. We had a good laugh and drove toward our hotel.

Orange carWe got there early, so we stopped at the deli across the street for a quick sandwich. The employee behind the counter looked vaguely familiar, but I didn’t say anything because we were 1000 miles from home. Then she looked at us in an odd way and asked where we were from. When we told her, she exclaimed, “I thought I knew you! I painted your orange kitchen seven years ago. That was memorable!”

Two days later, having an ice cream craving, we Googled the closest scoop shop and, low and behold, “Orange Octopus” was listed first.

Orange OctopusOk, this now falls into the weird category. Or maybe it is synchronicity. This concept, coined by Carl Jung, called these types of events “meaningful coincidences;” they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related.

I’d say that was happening here! I decided to take it as a sign to continue to use this color in my mediation practice.

Have you ever had this kind of synchronicity happen? For some people it’s a number that keeps showing up, or a name, or place. Skeptics would just call this a coincidence. Carl Jung wouldn’t. And maybe it doesn’t matter. It has given me a fresh way to focus, to stay present and awake, which is the purpose of spiritual practice.

I’m so grateful to my UU Wellspring group years ago that encouraged me to keep an open mind, especially around developing an ongoing spiritual practice. May you be similarly blessed.

Seeking Applicants for Board of Directors

UU Wellspring is in its 10th year of serving congregations through providing a powerful tool as an antidote to the frequent concern about a lack of spiritual depth in our congregations. It is a proven way to engage congregants in a profound and transformative small group experience and individual faith exploration.

UU Wellspring leads to a healthy, balanced spiritual life through five essential components: small group connection, daily spiritual practice, spiritual direction, UU history and theology, and putting our faith into action. There is a rich narrative woven into the lives of congregations that have embraced UU Wellspring and created a culture of deeply grounded Unitarian Universalist faith and history coupled with individualized spiritual practice and action out in the world.

This Is an Exciting Time for UU Wellspring!

  • We have filed for non-profit 501c3 status and are formalizing the Board of Directors.
  • Our founder, Rev. Jen Crow, has moved to an active mentor role and a new Acting Executive Director, Rev. Laura Smidzik, is focused on structuring the organization in a way that will serve it well into the future.
  • We are piloting a new, updated first-year curriculum with a broader range of voices and an intentional anti-oppression lens.
  • We are blessed with a skilled coordinator, Kristi Fuller, who brings a deep passion for UU Wellspring along with strong organization and communication skills.
  • This is a time of transition from an informal Advisory Board to a Board of Directors. Colleagues with years of service are moving to advisory roles and working to formulate a working board, comprising members with a connection to UU Wellspring and specific skill sets.

Put Your Faith in Action

We are actively looking for individuals who want to live out their faith by serving on the national board of UU Wellspring. Prior board experience is not necessary—a commitment to engaging in the expansion of UU Wellspring and being willing to spread the news of UU Wellspring is. This is a creative time for the Board and each member is a valued contributor. Prior participation in UU Wellspring is preferred but not required.

UU Wellspring Board Opportunities

New Board members start in early 2016. Our meetings are conducted through video conferencing and conference calls. We meet for one hour on the first and third Wednesday of the month at 4:00 pm Central time. We may change to once a month meetings once the new Board is established. We have several long-term board members remaining on the board and are seeking new Board members from diverse areas of the country and who bring a passion for UU Wellspring coupled with the willingness to serve on a “working Board.” Lay leaders are encouraged to apply. Each Board member will commit to leading a specific focus area. Our goal is to have volunteers working with each Board member.

Brief Description of Board Roles

  • Chair- Assist with board recruitment, oversee board development, facilitate board meetings, orient new board members. (Currently held by Sara Smalley)
  • Treasurer- Work with executive director and bookkeeper to assure timely and accurate financial records. Provide consistent financial reports to board, help lead budget discussions, and assist with financial budgets and reports for funders. (Rev. Jen Crow is filling this role now on a temporary basis)
  • Vice-chair- Serve a year prior to becoming the chair. As part of the executive committee, the vice-chair would assist with board recruitment and orientation as well as provide leadership to the board such as linking to one or two of the individuals holding specific portfolios.
  • Curriculum development- Keep all UU Wellspring curricula current and accessible for churches that want to offer Wellspring. (Currently held by Sara Smalley)
  • Facilitator support- Help UU Wellspring facilitators stay connected, current, inspired, appreciated, supported, and evangelical about their role.
  • Marketing- Create and lead a marketing plan to expand the number of congregations engaged in UU Wellspring.
  • Development (fundraising- individual donors)- Work with the Executive Director to determine and implement individual donor campaign/s via such means as Faithify, Facebook, and or email.
  • Development (grant support)- Work with Executive Director to research and make contact with potential funders. Lead or assist in writing grant proposals.
  • Wellspring- beyond brick and mortar congregations- Our immediate goal is to increase the number of congregations participating in 2016. However, we now have a group that is a non-church-based UU Wellspring-Sources program in the Boston area comprised of seminarians and lay leaders. This Board member will continue to examine and evaluate other potential models of implementation and present them to the Board for review, discussion and potential implementation.

2016-2017 Board Members (as of November 2015)

  1. Rev Jen Crow, MN, First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, MN (Mentor role)
  2. Dave Munro, NY, Seminary Student at One Spirit Interfaith Seminary
  3. Rev. Deborah Raible, WA, University Unitarian Church, Seattle
  4. Sara Smalley, MN, Seminary Student at Meadville-Lombard
  5. 5. Sean Neil Barron, MA, Currently UUA Ministerial Intern, New England Region

Interested in Learning More?

Click on this link to send us an email. We’ll get back to you!