January 2024

Dear Ones,


where already

you have left behind,

by choice or by force,

what you knew

what you cherished

what you maybe took

for granted.


where not yet

do you know

where you’re headed,

what it will take

what it will give

how it will change you.

~ Rev. Karen Hering, “Here” in Trusting Change: Finding Our Way Through Personal and Global Transformation

First and foremost, thank you to everyone reading this letter. Thank you for caring enough about MVUUF to stay engaged with us as we try to find a new way of being, a way that is both sustainable and inspirational. It is a testament to your strong faith that MVUUF and you are still here. You have once again demonstrated that atheists can have faith too.

In the days ahead, please reach out to our Board members and thank them for their service to your shared community. If it weren’t for them and all those who have gone before them, MVUUF would not still be here. In the best of times, being a Board member means taking on a level of responsibility that many either do not have the time or desire to assume. In our current situation, these individuals said yes, knowing that their responsibilities would be difficult. And then a year later they ALL said yes AGAIN. Please thank them for their love of MVUUF—they are a blessing to us all.

As we have gone through these months of discernment, I have witnessed you being your best selves. Despite the anxiety many of us feel, you keep showing up for one another with love and humility. The MVUUF community that I see now is not the community that I met five years ago. You are stronger, clearer in your values and purpose, and more committed to MVUUF and to one another. You understand that there is no perfect community. Instead, you realize that the choice is between imperfect community or no community. And you believe that MVUUF is the best imperfect community for you, even on its bad days.

On December 17th, you made your first major decision in this process by voting to list our building and campus for sale. At the upcoming congregational meeting on January 28th, we are asking every voting member to vote on the sale of our physical home on Yankee. We are stressing “every” member because our bylaws require 2/3 of all voting members to approve the sale. Normally, we use a quorum of voting members, which is either 30 or 40 percent of all voting members. The bylaws do not allow a quorum for this vote—it must be 2/3 of 100% of our voting members.

More important than any vote is how you decide to treat one another. Remember that the How of community matters more than the What. Let me say that again: Remember that the How of community matters more than the What. Stay committed to this community even if you don’t agree with a decision the membership selects. Have faith that together you will make it work or together you will make another decision. Have faith in one another (I do). As long as you can continue to center your love of this community, one another, and the Unitarian Universalist faith, MVUUF will survive and ultimately thrive again.

After the January vote, our leaders will contact organizations that have expressed interest in sharing their spaces with us. We will negotiate fees and usage days/times, centering the shared values our congregation selected during our discernment conversations: Community, Love, Transformation, Justice, and Inclusivity. We will also need to start making decisions about what to do with many of our belongings, deciding what to sell, give away, and take with us. If you would like to help us in either task, please let the Board know.

For those who read the Board’s October Discernment Report, much of this letter is intentionally a repeat in the hopes that more people will read it and that the repetition will reinforce these important ideas for those who are reading it a second time. Both repetition and remembrance are important parts of ritual, worship, and community- strengthening. Equally important, extended periods of stress and anxiety also reduce our ability to retain information (to remember) and use our healthiest coping tools. Stress and anxiety make healthy communication harder and miscommunication easier. It is harder to act as our best selves when we’re in stress response mode.

Our current state of prolonged stress and anxiety can lead us to behave in ways that we’re normally able to avoid, like the following: assuming bad intentions, judging others negatively, mindreading, talking about someone instead of speaking directly to them, gossiping, and passive-aggressiveness. We need one another to help us notice when we’re using these unhealthy behaviors. Our Right Relations Covenant is a helpful tool for guiding our own behavior and lovingly bringing each other back to our better selves. You can access the covenant on our website here. While we’re rebuilding our Right Relations Committee, the Committee on Ministry will be connecting folx with resources if they need assistance.

As I told you in the Discernment Report, I love MVUUF—that means you, Dear One. I love YOU. You are MVUUF. Because of that love, I have decided to stay at MVUUF. I believe that we have laid the groundwork to thrive as a community, to grow spiritually as individuals, and to have an impact in Southwest Ohio (which sorely needs organized progressive people of faith like us). I believe in us.

In the first year of ministry, the UUA sends ministers an article that talks about the first 10 years of congregational ministry (although this link is from a Baptist educational group, the original publisher the Alban Institute was much closer in theology to us and the United Church of Christ). As you’ll see, the descriptions match us well in most cases, while the exact years are a bit off. It’s like we were in the accelerated program.

What I find most inspiring is that the article asserts that our ministries don’t begin until our tenth year. It is important to note that it takes years to build the trust and connection between minister and congregation that is necessary for life-changing ministry to begin (both sides need to trust one another deeply). I feel it would be sad to give up what we are on the verge of and start over at another congregation—even a bigger one. As adrienne maree brown told is in her book Emergent Strategy, “Small is all.”

In the welcome letter I placed on my website at the beginning of my candidating week with you (way back in May 2018), I said, “I believe we all have important ministries to share with the world. My job as your minister is to create an environment where all of them can thrive individually and create something magical together, magic that can transform each of us and our greater world…. I am excited to see how love will transform us!”

I am STILL excited to see how Love will continue to transform us.

I will leave you with the final words from the poem that I used to begin my letter:


look around you,

at the others

waiting with you

on the curl of this comma.

You will need them.

They will need you.


we will round this bend,

cross over

into the not yet,


having let go,

we might finally learn—

a new way

is possible



—Rev. Karen Hering, “Here” in Trusting Change: Finding Our Way Through Personal and Global Transformation

I pray for your health, growth, and flourishing.

With much gratitude and love,


Rev. Kellie Kelly

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The service this Sunday will be multi-platform (online and in-person). If you are joining us by Zoom, you may use the blue button to join us live at 11 AM!
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