Tonight was the Service of the Living Tradition, always a high point of General Assembly and an event which most people who come to GA attend. The worship service is the annual recognition of ministers who are beginning and ending their active ministries as well as a recognition of those ministers who have died within the past year.
The service is both a joyous and a sad occasion. It's always emotional for me, and I think for most other people as well. One can't help but think about all the hopes and dreams of the new ministers up there on stage as well as all the years of dedicated service of the retiring ministers and the deceased ministers.
GA is never complete until we have sung "Rank by Rank Again We Stand" as the ministers process into the convention hall, and "For All the Saints," as they parade out at the end of the service. The sermon this year was by the Rev. Victoria Safford of the White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church at Mahtomedi, Minn. There was a choir composed of ministers, other religious leaders, and their families.
There were 51 ministers receiving preliminary fellowship (40 of them women), meaning they are just beginning their careers. Nineteen ministers are retiring this year and 16 ministers died. One religious educator, Tandy Wilkins Scheffler, was also recognized for attaining the status of Credentialed Religious Educator–Master's Level.
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Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.