Staff Transition at UCM

Letter from the Board President and Minister

April 30, 2022

Dear UCM Community,

It is with a profound mix of emotions that we write to inform you that Liza Earle-Centers will be departing from her role as Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration at the end of this church year. Liza shares about her decision to resign from her position in the letter below.

Since the fall of 2016, Liza has played a critical role in our community. She has helped our younger congregants feel welcome, build their own community, and begin to explore their spiritual paths. Many of us have experienced the heart-warming moment in a Sunday worship service when we have sung the children out of the sanctuary and to their time together in the Children’s Chapel. We still hold hope that we will return to this beloved tradition soon, and what a blessing it has been to know that they were in the love and care of Liza and the LSE volunteers that she recruited and trained to serve this critical role.

Over the last two years of the pandemic, Liza creatively adapted to continue offering, along with the LSE team, opportunities for connection and spiritual growth. She shared messages and spiritual practices for all ages. She led Zoom and outdoor Children’s Chapel programs. She supported volunteers who have kept our middle and high school youth groups going and coordinated Chalice Circles and other adult spiritual exploration programs that have been a primary way many of us have stayed connected to UCM during a time of limited in-person gatherings.

With all the skills and gifts she has shared with us, it is an understatement to say that Liza will be sorely missed. We also support Liza’s own spiritual path and wish her all the best as she moves into the next chapter of her life. Liza won’t be leaving the area, and we trust that she will continue to bring light and love to our church community in the days ahead.

The Board and Executive Team have not yet made any firm plans for what comes next for the Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration position. As we all know, this is a time of transition as we return to gathering in person inside our church building once again and as we discern together what the needs of our church community, including our children and youth, are at this time. Your feedback will be valuable as we determine these next steps.

This Sunday, May 1, we will make space available both during Zoom and In-person/Outdoor Coffee Hour for sharing any feelings or feedback that may come up for you as you take in this news. Please know that we will also be creating opportunities as we wind down the church year to celebrate and appreciate Liza as she concludes her staff role with UCM.

We hope you will join us in expressing your thanks to Liza in the weeks ahead for her many contributions to our congregation.

With love and gratitude,

Vic Guadagno, Board President

Rev. Joan Javier-Duval, Minister

Letter from Liza

Dear beloved UCM congregation, 

I hope you are enjoying this special time of spring’s unfurling. I want to let you know that I will be leaving the position of Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration at the end of this church year. I am so deeply grateful for the opportunity to share in the ministry of this congregation for the past six years. Your creativity, your big hearts, your playfulness, and your hunger to learn, and to create meaningful faith formation have inspired my work, in what has been a wonderful experience of mutual appreciation and shared growth. This is a congregation that leans into the laughter and the tears, hard work as well as play, tradition as well as new ideas! I rejoice that I found work that fits theologian Frederick Buechner’s assertion that “Vocation is that place where our deep gladness meets the world’s great need.” 

The pandemic has been like a massive flood, churning the waters in nearly all areas of our lives. As the waters settle, we see new river valleys have been created. Through my own spiritual discernment of the past year, it’s become clear that my inner voice is now guiding me in a different direction. I’m not sure exactly what lies ahead in terms of my next calling, but I am craving more time with family and perhaps work that is outdoors or at least with my hands. I know that this news will be met with sadness by many of you. I’m sorry to add another loss to the many from the pandemic. But along with the loss, the flood has carried NEW seeds, and in the space that has been cleared, there’s fertile ground for new growth to flourish beyond what might have been possible before. I have no doubt that there is much thriving yet to come in the area of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration at UCM in the years ahead, as you co-create as volunteers, participants, and staff.  

I’ve learned so much during my time with you, from toddlers to teens, young adults to Seasoned / Seasoning Souls!  Thank you for sharing your joys, your sorrows, your questions, your hopes. I’ve learned what it means to serve human need, to stretch toward a beloved community, and to dig into the complex spiritual questions of the heart, and of these times. I care deeply about the friendships that have sprouted between us and I look forward to renewing those when I circle back as a congregant after giving some time for transition.

My last day will be June 17th. Until then I plan on savoring each worship service along with every other opportunity to be with you, such as the tree planting this Saturday, Green-up Day the following Saturday, and more events to be announced. The LSE Committee and I will make sure there are some summer offerings for all ages to nourish connection within our faith community. 

With love,