My mission as a minister is to be a blessing. To be a blessing, I need to receive and celebrate blessings. Every year at the UU Ministers’ conference right before General Assembly in June, the 25th and 50th anniversaries of ordination for living ministers are celebrated. I am fortunate to be among the 25-year cohort this year. Everyone in my cohort was invited to make a brief video reflecting on a sacred object that informs their ministry.
I talked about my final fellowship stole. A colleague and friend who creates stoles met with me to discuss the design. I brought pieces of fabric from my women ancestors, and she worked them into the stole, combining old with new.
You’ve probably seen me wear it. I wear the gold side for ordinations, installations, and memorial services. I wear the white side for weddings and child dedications. There is gold filigree in the trim which was once used to make religious garb for priests. I gain strange satisfaction as a female minister knowing that fact.
The fringes at the bottom came from a dresser scarf of my grandmother’s. The new fabric with mountains evokes Mount Hood from my internship congregation in Portland, Oregon and the White Mountains of New Hampshire where I served my first settlement. The fabric with an image of pillars evokes cherished lay leaders of all the congregations I’ve served, including you–the “pillars” of First Church.
The generations of my family are symbolized by the buttons from the button box I played with as a child, the embroidered hankies from my great aunts, the thistle from my Scottish heritage, and the letter H for my mother Harriet, who did not live long enough to see me be ordained.
This stole reminds me that to do ministry well, I must remember that I am not self-made. The hand-crafted lace, the hand-stitched art embroidering my soul, reminds me that I am delivered from my ancestors’ hands into others’ hands — as are we all.
What object do you treasure that reminds you to celebrate blessings?
Rev. Dena McPhetres, Associate Minister