One of my great pleasures during my years of ministry has been receiving invitations to preach at various congregations in the district in which I was living. Even during the years when I was a student, I was invited to preach in several congregations in the Mountain Desert District, which stretches from western Montana, eastern Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. Western Nebraska is now part of that district, I think, but it wasn't at the time I was living in Denver.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, I've had the same lovely experience, of being invited to offer a service in 22 different congregations across the district, which stretches from Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. This is another huge district!
While living in Portland and serving Wy'east, I preached regularly at West Hills Fellowship, Eastrose in Gresham, South Park, Washington County, and Astoria, plus doing weddings in the Portland area and on the coast. I hope, upon retirement, to do more coast weddings; performing a marriage ceremony on a grassy coastal head is a huge thrill!
Here in Washington, I have preached at Bellingham, Blaine, Evergreen (Marysville), Kennewick, Cedars (Bainbridge/Kitsap), Skagit (Mt. Vernon), Shoreline, Westside (West Seattle), Saltwater (Des Moines), Tahoma (Tacoma), Olympia, and Wenatchee. Most of the weddings I've done have been on either Whidbey or Vashon Islands.
I moved to the Seattle area and lived in Ballard for a couple of years while serving both Vashon Island and Whidbey Island congregations, one weekend a month, as a quarter-time consulting minister. I served Vashon Island Unitarians for 4 years, finally ending that ministry when my appetite for commuting via ferry was sated.
By that time, I was living on Whidbey and it took two hours to get to Vashon. I waited in a lot of ferry lines over the year and a half that I did this commute. I'd go down on Friday morning through Seattle to the Fauntleroy ferry dock, wait in a long line to make the short hop to the island, and then return to Whidbey by taking the Southworth ferry to Port Orchard and north again to the Port Townsend ferry. Two hours each way for a trip of about 20 miles as the crow flies!
Vashon was a wonderful experience for me; they had never had a minister and were a bit torn about whether they needed one or not, but we hit it off immediately and there were few naysayers about ministry when I left. They have had some excellent ministry since that time and it's a good feeling to hear regularly how well they are doing.
Moving to Whidbey meant that I got far more involved in the congregation than I had been able to accomplish when I was living on the mainland. I could attend meetings that were scheduled for other times than the weekend, I could attend church every Sunday if I chose, and I was able to have a public presence in the community. I also found a very satisfying private life, by getting involved with the acoustic music community.
Once I landed on Whidbey Island, my hours increased, from quarter time to one-third time and finally now to half-time. That is, they pay me for half-time. I know I spend more time than that, but it's hard to say no to people in pain.
More on the Whidbey Island years later.