On Sunday afternoon, April 3, after a busy morning at church, we members, friends, and ministerial colleagues gathered together again in our beautiful Sanctuary to officially install our own Rev. Joan Javier-Duval as the minister of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier. The ceremony was uplifting and beautiful, and announced to the world that we are now officially minister and congregation together. It was definitely “high church” in tone and feeling. You can listen to the audio recording of the service.
The choir filled the chancel, members filled the pews, and we stood together and sang that grand old hymn of all Ministerial gatherings, “Rank by Rank Again We Stand” as robed UU ministers, local clergy and dignitaries processed up the aisle to their seats in the front.
After hearing greetings from the Mayor of Montpelier, District dignitaries, local clergy, UU Religious Professionals of Color and the very UU: “Diverse Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries”, we sat together and listened to the beautiful music of our choir, singing Bach’s glorious hymn, “A Promise Through the Ages Rings.”
The Rev. Kathleen McTigue challenged us all in her sermon, “On This We Set Our Hearts”. She called us to be present in the moment, and to act on what we know to be true for ourselves.
An important part of every ministerial celebration within our UU faith is an offering taken for the Living Tradition Fund. This fund supports young ministers struggling with debt, or illness, or those ministers who have not been able to save enough for retirement. We gave generously as the pouches were passed…then settled back for the choir’s rendition of Gordon Young’s powerful, “Let There be Music”.
The Act of Installation itself is an exchange of aspirations and promises between minister and congregation. The final words from the congregation:
“We, the gathered congregation of family, friends and colleagues, recognize and affirm you as the minister of this church. We rejoice with you on this occasion and offer you our continuing friendship and support. May your ministry be blessed in you and in all those whom you serve.”
And, from the minister:
“With profound gratitude for the many who have come before me, trusting in the strength, grace and guidance of that power which has called me forth from among us, and with your continued support, I joyfully take up the ministry into which you have called me.”
Following this exchange of “vows”, the congregation offered Joan a beautiful ministerial stole, in glorious peacock blue and green. In return, Joan offered the congregation a stack of copies of “Lifting Our Voices: Readings in the Living Tradition,” a collection of readings, in hopes that we’ll soon be able to purchase enough for everyone.
There was a beautiful “Charge” from our children, (which included having more “pets in the services”); a Charge to the Minister from a colleague, Rev. Kent Matthies, who had been Joan’s senior minister during her internship in Germantown, PA; and then, our own Minister Emerita, Rev. Marjorie Rebmann, charged us, the congregation, to be the best we ourselves could be in our relationship with Joan and in the future of our church.
During the Recessional Hymn “Wake Now My Senses” the clergy filed out to the rear of the sanctuary, and Rev. Joan gave the final benediction. It was a rare, majestic, moving, and heartwarming ceremony.
Following the ceremony, we all enjoyed the beautiful and bountiful reception hosted by our own Woman’s Alliance. It was a wonderful day.