Every year there is a service celebrating ministry at the GA. New ministers are congratulated, retiring ministers honored, and the deceased are named. At the beginning of a minister's career, they likely know many new ministers and few retiring or deceased ministers, and that changes; slowly for people who work around Seminaries or are in ministerial chapters with many Seminarians, rapidly for people like me who spent a career in various UU outbacks. The moment of silence for the deceased gets more and more poignent as the years pass. Ministers talk a lot about this particular rite of passage.
But this year I noticed something else. Between old interns and people who left Albuquerque to go to Seminary, my GA is getting richer and richer. Last week I cheered on an old staffer, Michael Corrigan, who received Preliminary Fellowship, my first intern, who got Final Fellowship, and had breakfast with an Myriam Renaud who left Albuquerque for seminary 7 years ago and is deep into a PhD program in Theology. I knew more of the deceased ministers, but I know these new ones better. That's good!
And speaking of the Service of the Living Tradition, it lived up to its name this year for the first time in a long time...a dignified worship service that was still alive. The 19th century form, created for a small group of ministers and meant to be held in a church, had not translated well to a convention hall and a hundred honorees, and the SLT had taken on the overtones of a circus. Beth Miller has made changes over the past couple of years which have made the service both more interesting (I loved being able to see photographs of the honorees as their names were called!) and more dignified. There were a few adolescents who attempted to continue the circus atmosphere with their calls and whistles, but I imagine they will have matured before another year passes and the Service of the Living Tradition will continue to thrive.