by Kimberlee Tomczak Carlson, Director of Religious Education
Early in my chaplaincy training at St. Luke’s Hospital my supervisor asked each one of my cohort to answer the question, “What gives you the right to be in the room while someone is suffering?”. My fellow newbie chaplains all shared a version of an answer that contained Jesus and salvation. Then it was my turn, I waivered and said: “I believe in the power of human connection, our ability to think, feel and create our realities with one another. Human relationships can be a spiritually healing force that serves the common good even when it cannot alleviate the suffering we encounter.” Judging myself by the look on their faces I feared I had failed my chaplaincy training on the first week. Afterword, my supervisor, a Rabbi, reassured me that though my colleagues felt empowered by Jesus they would need to discover the power within themselves, the patients, and relationship building also.
The core of our faith is not placed outside the human community but rooted within it: the connection we have with one another and the earth is holy, sacred and divine. This is why Unitarian Universalist ordination is traditionally granted from our congregations. This is why I want my ordination, the final step in my ministerial formation, to be here at First Church, conferred from the people where I have been hired to serve as a minister of religious education. Together we have already begun to co-create a new improved reality for religious education. Building on a strong tradition grounded in Unitarian Universalist values, we will continue to expand our faith
formation program to new forms that will center the needs of our children and families today. The privilege of working with the dedicated Unitarian Universalists here at First Church inspires me as we continue our efforts in this vital endeavor. Family ministry has the power to serve our faith community, the common good of Milwaukee and our world.
All the steps, forms, classes, tests, internships and trainings that Unitarian Universalism requires of me to become a minister have been completed. But only a congregation can grace me with the title of “Reverend.” I am fortunate to have relationships with many fine congregations during my faith journey, during my process of becoming a minister. Yet, First Church is the church is where my ministry story truly begins again. With joy in my heart, I humbly request that this sacred honor be bestowed by the power of this faith community, the people of First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee.
Kimberlee Tomczak Carlson