The Installation of Rev. Elizabeth Bukey

Sunday, April 29, 2018, 4:00PM

Childcare provided; reception to follow
3:30PM: Clergy, candidates for ministry, and seminarians invited to robe and process
3:30PM: Clergy, candidates for ministry, and seminarians invited to robe and process
RSVP to Danielle Levac
"What's An Installation?" A note from Rev. Elizabeth

On April 29, we're holding an "Installation" of me as your called and settled minister! This is very exciting. Some of you have been wondering, though, what exactly an "Installation" is. Is it an ordination? Is it like installing an appliance?

An ordination is when one becomes an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister: when one can start using the honorific "Reverend." In our tradition, that ordination follows the minister even when they move to a different church. I was co-ordained in 2016 by two congregations: First Church in San Diego, UU (my internship congregation) and Chalice UU Congregation (the congregation I served most recently).

An installation is the ceremony to formally recognize that a Unitarian Universalist church and a minister are entering into a covenantal relationship with one another. This is different from being a contract minister, where each year, a contract is reviewed and both parties consider whether the relationship should continue for another year. An interim minister is a type of contract minister, in that they are with a church for a specific period of time – in Rev. Tracey’s case, for three years.

Installations can happen at any time, but it's customary to have them within the first 9 months of the minister's arrival. I think they used to be fairly early in that year, but now many of us hold them later. We do this partly because it's hard to plan a large event when you've just arrived, and partly because an installation is about affirming a relationship, which will be more robust later in the year.

My colleague Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford, lead minister for Live Oak UU in Cedar Park, Texas, found this explanation – from 1895! – about Unitarian installations. It was written by lay leader E.V. Wilson on the occasion of the installation of Rev. C.G. Horst:

Being a Unitarian Society, we are a congregational body; that is, we manage, control, and direct our own affairs. Our form of government is a pure democracy. Every member has an equal voice in the management of the society. We determine what officer shall be chosen, and we elect him; who will be admitted to membership and the manner in which they shall be admitted; we choose our pastor or minister, he holds that office during the pleasure of both parties, and then we dismiss him; and all these acts are subject to no revision or investigation by Bishop, counsel, Presbytery, convention, or synod. Our ministers are not set to watch over us as a theological policeman.

The church has the same authority to ordain and install its ministers that it has to determine whom they shall be…You have been selected by the practically unanimous vote of the society to become the pastor, and you have accepted our call; and by virtue of that acceptance and the authority of the society I now install you as pastor of the second Unitarian church of Athol.

There is something worth noting in the mutual agreement by which the relation of pastor and people is assumed. It is not simply a union of sentiment at the beginning of the relation, but it signifies that there should be the same union of sentiment during its continuance. The pew and the pulpit are to work together. There are certain duties that devolve on each, and each must perform its part if this church shall be and do all that becomes a church. We pledge you our earnest support, and will ask for no truer loyalty on your part then we show on our part.

We ask you to subscribe to no creed, but we ask you to preach the faith. We recognize that, as one’s knowledge broadens, his belief changes. What is miraculous to the child is commonplace to the man; but while beliefs change, faith remains. The truth, so far as we know the truth, is our creed; and nothing that is true is heresy. We ask you to broaden our knowledge of the truth and to strengthen our faith. There are those of deep religious convictions in this congregation. To them the Unitarian faith should be presented in all its beauty and fullness. Many who are not Unitarians, and too many who claim that they are, think that the Unitarian creed is a denial of certain articles in the creeds of other churches. It is no doubt true that the Unitarian movement was a protest against Christianity that was unchristian, a humanity that was inhuman; but it was not then, nor is it now, a denial of all belief. The Unitarian church has a living, vital faith; and that faith we ask you to preach. Those truly religious souls who are the saving salt in every congregation are no more satisfied by preaching only the old denials than a famished man would be at a restaurant where the bill of fare only announces, “we have not any.” Preach to us the faith.

The pulpit in a Unitarian church is a rostrum from which the truth may be spoken without fear of the charge of heresy or dread of the ban of excommunication. Every question that touches the religious side of man, every problem that affects him intellectually, morally, or spiritually, may be looked squarely in the face and fairly discussed. It is a frequent complaint that the pews are empty, that many do not go to church; but the pulpit that has something to say will not have to talk to empty pews. The questions of the day are proper topics for the pulpit. We care little for the sin of the Adam that was, but we care much for the conduct of the Adam that is. The prophets of old discussed present topics, and the prophet of today, if he is a prophet, will discuss live issues. If he has a message, he will not lack for hearers. Emerson says – “Still at the prophets feet the nation sit.” But the nations in these closing days of the 19th century sit only at the feet of those prophets whose faces are set toward the dawn of the 20th century. Preach to us the faith, the faith of today. Teach us the faith teach us the truth, the truth of today. In the pulpit and out of it be thou our pastor, and in the church and out of it we will be thy people.

“Congregational Installation,” from The Unitarian, Volume X, 1895, pg. 367 

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First Church in JP, UU

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Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

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