Board Reflection for September 24, 2023

Karen Nowicki, UUCCH Board Member

Good morning, my name is Karen Nowicki. I am a tall, somewhat squishy, cis-gender white woman who has shoulder length mostly brown hair. My pronouns are she/her and I am 42 years old. People say I don’t look or act my age but I’m still trying to decide whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.

As I commence my second year on the board of trustees, I reflect on why I answered the call to serve, especially in the wake of what has arguably been the most tumultuous couple of years in both my life and I’m sure everyone else’s.

The first service my partner, Dave, and I attended many years ago was a unique experience involving our minister at the time, Manish Mishra-Marzetti, dressed in a werewolf costume. As both of us were raised Catholic, we were initially taken aback, having transitioned from the rigid and structured rituals of Catholicism to a service where the minister donned a Halloween costume. Despite the initial shock, we were intrigued and kept coming back.

Since that time, our involvement and activity within this community has fluctuated, but what consistently impresses me is this community’s proactive nature—its willingness to learn and take action, even in unpredictable and unconventional ways, such as a minister dressed as a werewolf or a complete reconstruction of the sanctuary starting before we had a professional minister and completed through a global pandemic. 

Over the years, I’ve witnessed this community navigate changes and challenges, acknowledging missteps and learning from mistakes. It’s essential that we recognize and address our imperfections openly, as no community or organization is flawless. Like debriding a wound, we must open it up to foster complete, healthy, and expansive recovery. 

Unfortunately, initial first aid often keeps wounds trapped and doesn’t allow the body to finish healing and if left in place for too long without proper wound care it can result in scars or insufficient recovery. While first aid is important and can be critical to overall health if we stay trapped in those first stages we can feel protected but ultimately it impedes the robust healing necessary for complete and total repair. I aspire to contribute to this healing process and be a part of this congregation’s future. I recognize the need for us as a community to work together and heal completely from the inside out.

To achieve genuine healing and progress, we must confront the mistakes made throughout the church’s history and accept that we are a collective of imperfect humans striving to uphold the ideals of this faith. We all possess our flaws that sometimes lead us to blunder, but together we can leverage each other’s strengths to better embody the mission and vision of Unitarian Universalism and UUCCH. The board has made efforts to acknowledge and address these past wounds, aiming to clean them thoroughly for proper and total healing. This journey won’t be easy, and undoubtedly, we may stumble again, but let us not lose sight of the potential this community has through continued collaboration, love, and grace.

In the upcoming year, the board endeavors to acknowledge and rectify past missteps, inviting individuals back into covenant with this church and with each other. We aim to initiate dialogues about the lessons learned from our history and our aspirations for the future. We hope to be prepared so that when a new minister arrives, whoever that may be, they can be captivated not only by our collective greatness but also by our authenticity and grace. This path may not always be smooth, and there will be discomfort at times, but by addressing our past and fostering true healing, we can confidently step into our future. I extend an invitation for you to engage, participate, and walk with us on this transformative journey. Come along with us.