Ever since I agreed to serve the little Pacific UU Fellowship by doing pastoral care as needed plus a sermon every month or so, for a small honorarium, I've been puzzling about what we should call this kind of ministry.
It's not really consulting ministry, it's not exactly part-time (or rather, it is extremely part-time and not anywhere near equivalent to what a quarter-time minister would do), I certainly won't ask for the kind of contract I've had in other, truly part-time/consulting ministries, and so there is a dearth of names for the ministry I'm offering.
As I've thought about what I'm really offering to this small bunch of committed folks, I realized that perhaps the greatest thing I'm doing is being present. I live here. I don't visit for a long weekend into which multiple meetings and classes and services must get crammed. If a pastoral emergency arises, I don't have to drive for hours to see to it; if there is a congregational event, koffee klatch, crisis, I'm present, I'm a resident of the community.
Because I'm a longtime "church-lady" type (thank you, Sarah Schurr for that name), I go to church every Sunday. I'm present at the door saying hi to folks as they arrive, I'm there during coffee hour and the monthly potluck, I bring refreshments when it's my turn, I pledge, I sing with the PUUF "Fab Five". I'm present.
One of the things I learned at a visceral level during seminary, particularly during my Clinical Pastoral Education unit and my internship, is that my presence (probably ought to use a capital P) is my most valuable contribution. Even if I can only hold a hand, even if the person is still going to feel sick, sad, deeply pained, even if I can't change a thing, my presence is valuable.
So it occurred to me to borrow from the Arts community, which uses the term "in residence" to describe visiting artists, writers, actors, and musicians; I will be PUUF's Minister in Residence. For as long as I can.