As a faith tradition, Unitarian Universalists are congregationalists – as in we gather in covenant in individual and interdependent congregations each with the unique right to call and ordain our own ministers. Except that we know the need for ministry and for Unitarian Universalism extends beyond the congregation out into the wider community. Ministry is often needed in hospitals, mental health care, hospice settings, prisons, universities, community organizing, and many other places. This is where Unitarian Universalist community ministers come in.
Community ministers extend the reach of Unitarian Universalist ministry beyond the congregation. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t still connected with our congregations. Every community minister affiliates with a local congregation as a way of grounding their ministry in the local church, and to establish a source of clear accountability and support for their ministry.
In our entire almost 125 year history, Foothills has not had the opportunity to affiliate with a community minister – that is, until now. On August 18, 2022, the Foothills Board of Trustees unanimously and enthusiastically approved the request from the Rev. Christopher Watkins Lamb to affiliate with us as our community minister. Christopher is the lead chaplain at the Poudre Valley Hospital, where he brings the presence of Unitarian Universalist ministry to the patients, family members and staff through all that they may face in the PVH community.
We have a long history of relationship with Christopher, first as a newcomer with his wife Amber Lamb, later as our youth coordinator and children’s music coordinator, then our music lead. We also co-ordained Christopher just over two years ago.
In affiliating with us, Rev. Christopher signals a continuation of this long relationship, and also yet another turn in how we will be in relationship. Affiliation is not the same as being a staff member – he is employed by PVH, not by Foothills. But it is a way of acknowledging that we are all on the same team and that there is an explicit and formal relationship between his work and the mission and ministry of our church. Christopher will also continue to be present in various ways at Foothills, as he has over the last decade. He will preach at least once a year, and provide back-up for pastoral care needs. He may also lead other special programs or rituals or other ministry opportunities as it fits his schedule and ours.