Good news! My friend and UU colleague Jason Lydon is interested in becoming an affiliate minister of our church.
An affiliate minister is an unpaid position which supports the ministry of the church – Rev. Marshall Hawkins is currently an affiliate minister of our church. I have worked closely with Jason on justice issues for several years, and have learned much from him. I am delighted that he wants to work with us! He brings a truly inspiring passion for justice.
Also, as Nancy Ahmadifar who has done prison work with Jason for seven years, recently said to me, “Jason is the person who provides pastoral care for the people doing justice work.” Our Standing Committee recently voted to have Jason as an affiliate minister, and the congregation will need to formally vote in the Fall. Please take the time to read this letter of introduction from Jason and make a point of getting to know this remarkable young man!
For letter of introduction:
Dear friends at First Church Jamaica Plain,
It is with excitement and hope in possibility that I write this letter. After multiple conversations with Rev. Terry Burke as well as Andrea Fleck Clardy, I am pleased to ask for your consideration as an affiliate minister at First Church. In 1988, the Unitarian Universalist Community Ministry Proclamation was declared. It reads, “We, as people living in a world that is both dying and seeking to be reborn, who are shaken to our very roots by the massiveness and depth and of planetary and human suffering, are empowered by a driving passion to bear witness to that suffering, participate in its transformation and affirm the inherent glory of life.” It is in this legacy that I am seeking to affiliate with your congregation.
My personal ministry is primarily focused on the current realities of incarcerated lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer identified individuals. In 2004 I started an organization, Black and Pink. We work together on a nationally networked level to provide direct services, newsletters, pen-pal friendships, and so forth to 1,300 prisoners throughout the country. We provide queer affirming religious perspectives, political education, and open opportunities for prisoner members to share about their own experiences of survival. The intention of Black and Pink is to increase the organizing potential of currently incarcerated LGBTQ folks while providing immediately healing resources to help with survival behind the walls. While we are a secular organization, the need for spiritual resources is consistently articulated by our incarcerated membership and ministry often finds itself surprisingly effective in secular environments.
I am interested in your congregation, specifically, for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, I have preached at your church multiple times and every time it has been incredibly welcoming, warm, and energizing. First Church JP has a key role in justice work throughout Jamaica Plain. Certainly the JP forum has been an excellent connection to progressive and compassionate people within the neighborhood. The open engagement of the congregation in struggles for justice peaks my interest and gives me hope about our potential for a mutually fulfilling relationship. Secondly, it has been a joy to work closely with Terry on workers rights, immigrant rights, and other campaigns here in our city. Getting an opportunity to partner more often with him would be wonderful and would certainly strengthen my ministry. Terry has been serving your congregation for more than half of my life, there is much I have to learn from him, and this would be a great personal opportunity for me. Thirdly, I believe I have much to share with your congregation. While I appreciate the Christian traditions that your congregation is rooted in, I bring a humanist theology with me that could open the doors to some new spaces of reflection. As a young adult I have connections with a community of people who so often are turned off from traditional worship spaces, and I find young adult ministries to be a key part to growing and transforming our faith movement. Lastly, I believe deeply in our Unitarian Universalist tradition. I believe there is an essential message within our shared theology and I want to build that with you all.
… I would love to be part of the worshiping congregation as often as I can be. I would be delighted to coordinate with the social action committee. I am open to offering classes on theology and/or prisons. I would love to utilize First Church JP as a hub for district wide UU prison ministry, should that be a shared desire. I would be happy to facilitate trainings on LGBTQ identity and the process of becoming a radically welcoming congregation. The options are open to our creativity. I am currently in the process of leaving my church, the Community Church of Boston, where I have served for seven years. I look forward to finding a new community that will also nurture my mind, heart, and soul.
Rev. Jason M. Lydon