It’s Always Something

Rev. Chris NeilsonThis past week I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia and will be admitted on Monday for several days of chemotherapy followed by weeks of recovery from the effects of the medicine. It’s a scary time, and I’ve barely had a chance to catch my breath. I face an uncertain future, and a lot of days in an isolation room.

I only have about four days to get the district affairs in order before I’ll be plagued with “Chemo brain,” and while I’m willing to keep trying to keep all of my balls in the air that I’ve been juggling, almost all of what I do will need to be shared with the rest of the regional and district staff team as I face this illness. I’m sure many of you with whom I’ve been working will wonder- now who do I call? Where can we turn for help? What happens now? Many of you are still in the middle of a ministerial search. Many have completed searches, and will want to set up a start up with a new minister. Several of you are negotiating conflicts- trying to turn the congregation around to a healthy place.

Many of my projects have been reassigned- so If I’ve been scheduled to be somewhere, someone else will be doing the workshop, conversation, or whatever we had scheduled. Some things may be deferred for now. Some things may have to be cancelled.

Our lead staff consultant, Rev. Joan Van Beceleare will be the primary contact for me right now. She will delegate my duties for the short term. Karen Lobracco is on staff through June, and of course Sue Tabone is ever present in our office. Our district board will also work with Joan to see what additional resources may be needed.

I’m sorry to be off the scene so quickly and urgently, but cancer doesn’t wait for a more convenient time. If it’s not one thing, its another, but we’ll do our best to meet the needs of our congregations. It’s always something! I hope to be back before you even know I’m gone.

In faith and with love,
Rev. Chris

Editor’s Note: The staff and leadership of the Central East Regional Group and its districts wish Chris a speedy recovery and assure her we will take on what needs done in her absence.

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Goldmine – Youth Leadership School

In 1991 Jaco Ten Hove and others in the Pacific Northwest started a grand experiment, adapting the idea of a week long leadership school into a leadership school for youth. I first encountered Goldmine trained youth leaders as co-leaders of training I was leading in 2005, and Wow! They were impressive. Articulate, self-assured, responsible, passionate. And they each told me, in some way, that Goldmine transformed them, gave them this confidence and capacity.

goldmine2This was something I wanted for our youth. And, a few years ago, it happened, Goldmine went continental and Metro New York had their first Goldmine in 2011. But one Goldmine isn’t enough for a whole region! So, in 2013 we started TWO Goldmines for the CERG region. One we dubbed “east” and one “west” (I know, creative). We have been joined in this effort by southern Ontario making this a truly “better together” effort.

And, as we hoped, we have been seeing the same transformation in our youth! From the manual, “GoldMine is not a camp or conference, but a concentrated series of workshops, reflection and sharing. The total experience equips young Unitarian Universalists with a foundation that deepens their religious development and expands their ability to contribute, both in their UU communities and in wider applications.”

Goldmine YouthGoldmine has a series of structured workshops in leadership skills, UU values and heritage, and leading worship co-led by youth and adults. Interwoven into this is a process of self-reflection on beliefs and values and multiple opportunities to lead and participate in community deepening worship. I have seen youth change before my eyes. And they leave with lifelong friends.

If you want to see your congregation’s youth ministry grow and transform, send your youth to Goldmine. Goldmine trained youth are serving in tremendous leadership positions across our region: as worship associates, co-chairing a regional team of youth leaders, as Youth Adult Committee leaders, as facilitators of training programs, as strong local youth leaders building the kind of local youth community every youth deserves.

Register here: rates increase on May 1st.

Evin Carvill-Ziemer

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