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Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Sunday, June 21, 2015

How To Say A Good Goodbye

Presented by Rev. Diane Teichert; with Bettie Young, Worship Associate; Dayna Edwards, Director of Multigenerational Religious Exploration; the PBUUC and Childrens Choirs; The PBUUC Chalice Dancers; and other special music

Text for the All Ages Service – June 21, 2015

How to Say a Good Goodbye

Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Rev. Diane Teichert, Minister


+INGATHERING MUSIC     David Chapman, Music Director and Pianist


+PROCESSIONAL HYMN #368  Now Let Us Sing

WELCOME Bettie Young, Worship Associate-

OPENING WORDS   Why is it Often Hard to Say Goodbye?

Rev. Diane Teichert

A few months ago, when it became clear to me that I should resign as your Minister, due to the disabilities remaining from my stroke, I knew that would mean that we would have to say goodbye to each other. That day has come. It is today.

I dont like to say goodbye! And I rarely feel that I have said a good goodbye. Usually, it feels incomplete, things left unsaid, hugs not exchanged, feelings not conveyed. Maybe its just because I come from a quiet family, and the dominant white American culture is not that open and expressive-or wasnt before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! By the way, did you turn your electronic device to its most reverent setting?

But, you know, screen-time openness is not the same as face-to-face, eye-to-eye, flesh-to-flesh, in person, honesty and affection. Thats one of the great things about coming together on Sunday mornings: here, we are real, live people, with our electronic devices turned off. That way, we are able to hear the still, small voice within ourselves, and join ours with others’ voices in song. 

In a moment, I will invite my husband. Don Milton, to be our chalice lighter this morning. He has been steadfast in his support for me. Through the trial of this last year, our love has grown. Also, I welcome our daughter, Alexa; my brother Paul, and his daughters, Emma and Caroline; the Revs. John Manwell and Phyllis Hubble, your previous interim co-ministers, and my friend and colleague, Rev. Amanda Poppei, Senior Leader of the Washington Ethical Society.

Would the chalice lighter please come forward? You will find the words printed in your Order of Worship.


We light the chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism.

This is the church of the open mind, the helping hands,

the loving heart, and the radiant spirit.

Encendamos este caliz para celebrar el Unitarismo Universalismo.

Esta es la iglesia de la mente abierta, de las manos amigas,

del amor del corazón, y del espíritu radiante.


Have YOU ever said goodbye and then felt it wasnt all it could have been?... This congregation is so important to me that I didnt want to make that mistake with you.

So, over the last six or so weeks, starting with the children, Ive been meeting, in person, with small groups of you to say goodbye. In June,

I attended the Youth-led, Choir and RE Services.

And Ive been wondering: what makes a good goodbye? I decided that  it’s three things: 1) sharing the sad feelings, 2) looking back, with appreciation, mostly, on the past weve shared and 3) looking forward with hope to the future we wont share in the same way.

So, this morning we are going to say goodbye for an entire worship service! It will have three parts and each part will have music, talking and a ritual. In case you dont know, a ritual is symbolic action we do together that points to the larger, deeper, sacred meaning of whats important to us in that moment.

We will also do our usual Sunday service things, like sharing our Joys and Sorrows, collecting the offering of money that keeps our church going, and singing “Spirit of Life.”

How to Say a Good Goodbye: First, Share Sadness

How to say a good goodbye? First, we express our feelings, especially sadness.

In a moment, the choir will sing “There is a Balm in Gilead.” It is an African-American song for times of discouragement.

A balm is a lotion or cream that can help a hurt feel better. And Gilead is a place mentioned in the Jewish Bible.

A couple months ago, I chose it as a choir song for this goodbye service, because it is a comfort to me in sad times, like when saying goodbye.

But, today, it feels even more appropriate. It expresses our sadness and anger that a young white man who talked hate killed 9 black people in their church, of all places, this past week.

The song asks, is there a balm, a comfort, for our country? For the wounds suffered by black people, caused by white people, for nearly five hundred years now?

Listen with me for the sadness, and strength, in There is a Balm in Gilead.

CHOIR  There is a Balm in Gilead  African American spiritual



I feel very sad saying goodbye to you.

I have served four congregations so far, and you are the best match yet!

I love our buildings, our beautiful woodland setting and the plants and animals with which we share it.

I love our nearby neighborhoods, where so many different kinds of people live, giving us the opportunity to welcome them here and to join with them to make a better world.

I love our history of activism for racial justice, our early work for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender rights, the womens center in the seventies, and our early and sustained earth-consciousness.

I love our high quality music, and dance, and art on the walls!

I’ve loved the times in which we live now – requiring our activism for marriage equality, and now for Black Lives Matter. There’s lots of work for love and justice still to do!

I love our progress in being a united community of people of all ages and races.

Most of all, I love you:
Our children with your energy, smiles, bright eyes, curious minds, and how you love to explore the stream outside, even though you get wet, or maybe because you get wet!

Your parents, who love you and try so hard to do the right thing…

The youth with their honesty, and depth, and musical gifts…

People here of all ages, discovering how their abilities and passions can best meet the pressing needs of our world…

People at the peak of their abilities and authority –learning how to use their influence for the common good…

I love our staff, some of whom you do not see on Sunday mornings. We shared a goodbye lunch this past week. As I listened, I realized how much they had come together to keep the church going smoothly in the last year since my stroke, along with your lay leaders.

Maybe especially, I love the elders - their wisdom, courage, and their energy!


CHILDREN’S CHOIR  One Love  words/ music  by Bob Marley

In English and in Spanish




the cards of joy and Sorrow will now be collected and pens distributed for use in a later ritual, please raise your hand for either.

RITUAL - Diane


Hugging is a great goodbye ritual to express our sadness. First we love and hug ourselves. Do it with your arms across your chest, crossing at your heart. I can even do it with only one arm, see. After  you hug yourself, then hug persons next to you or bump elbows if today is not a hugging day for you, or if you have a bad cold.

Then  find the paper heart at your seat, but leave it where it is, please! Sometimes when we feel sad to say goodbye, we say, ”I’ll hold you in my heart”- that’s the love these paper hearts represent, what the children’s choir just sang about—that there is one love, big enough  for everyone, so we should just get along! I wonder… what…we will be doing with the hearts in just a few minutyes!??

How to Say a good goodbye: Then, Look Back



To say a good goodbye: first share feelings, especially, sadness. Then,  look back at our time together.

In the Akan and Ashanti languages in Ghana, there is a word for this: Sankofa, meaning to look back in order to move forward, or to bring forward what we need from the past to prepare for the future.

When I look back, I see the positive changes we’ve made together like declaring our intention to become multi-cultural, and multi-generational, starting to be serious about composting, fixing the deck, and reclaiming our space in the Religious  Exploration Building. The laatter allowed us to invite people living nearby to attend, first, the Spirit of Life Center and, now, the Community Learning Center where we teach English as a second language.

Some of my favorite memories involve the animals around us– like the pileated woodpecker that flew by my window on  the morning of  my stroke – that’s the largest woodpecker that lives in this area, with a bright red head and a crest--it’s true, Chuck saw it too! And I have seen several of my all-time favorite animal, the box turtle. One Sunday morning, in the leaves below the deck, we saw two, one on top of the other! So, I think there will be more box turtles! J

When I look back, I remember  how you cared so much about David, our music director and pianist, when he was so seriously ill and then me, in the past year, and how you take good care of each other.

When I look back, I also see the changes we have made in our worship service, with the help of of the three Directors of Religious Exploration since I’ve been here:

- first Karen, when we started having the children and youth in the first part of the service every Sunday…

-then Erica, who told stories from so many different cultures, so very well, with something to learn for  all ages in Together Time…

-and now Dayna, who brought us the Wonder Box and helps us all to wonder about what matters most in life!

Of course, being the minister, I get to lead worship, so I have many special worship memories, but among the best are from our year-long exploration of the Six Sources of Unitarian Universalism.



I invite you all turn around in your seats to look back - literally - at the stained glass art created by one of our own members, Susannah Schiller. Each represents one of our Six Sources. Starting with the one that is farthest to the right, they are:
i. Transcending Mystery and Wonder;

ii. Words and Deeds of Prophetic Women and Men;

iii. Wisdom from the Worlds Religions;

iv. Jewish and Christian Teachings;

v. Humanist Teachings;

     vi. Earth-Centered Traditions


Dayna Edwards, Director of Religious Exploration:

I wonder…from what source do you find strength? Or what source have you learned more about during Diane’s ministry? Or what source do you hope she will be able to draw on, as she  goes forward from us? It doesnt have to be one of the six; you can make up your own. Please write your answer to one of those questions on the back of your paper heart - just a few words – please offer to help the person next to you, if needed. Please leave the hearts taped where they are.



How to Say a good goodbye: Lastly, Look Forward


Diane: So, to say a good good-bye, we’ve shared sadness and looked back with aappreciation. Now, we look forward.

MUSIC Another Train  words/music by Pete Morton

Singers: Allison Hughes, Jeanne Judd, Elizabth Porter, Sarah Treado



Dayna:  Soon we will attach  the strings across the aisles, one string for each row of chairs between the center aisle and side aisle. I wonder  if  we can  join them all togethr to make strings of hearrts,  a bit like prayer flags in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition?


Diane:  Now I want call forward to the front center aisle, the first  child born during my ministry, Constance Katz, and her parents, Renee and Sonny, and sister Janaki. They will tie a knot to join the two strings from the front row.  And now I ask people (and any whose children are with them today) who signed the Membership Book during my ministry here, since August 1, 1999, to step into the center aisle to tie the strings for the subsequent rows going all the way to the last row in the back,  in front of  the windows. (Wait until every  row has been tied).


Dayna:  Half of the heart-strings will go home with Diane so that she will remember our prayers for  her strength, and half will remain here to remind us of the strength she shared with us these past six years, to be joined as one long string of prayer hearts, to hang in the RE Building hallway  or in the Kelley Room, to remind us of the strength she shared with us in these past six years.


With all this strength from you, I feel like Super-woman!

For me ministry is not over, but it is changing.  I will certainly draw on these sources of strength!

First, I need to get back on the track of my exercises and medical treatments, which have been put off while Ive been deciding about my future here and then saying goodbye. The only future ministry to which Ive already said yes is to be a mentor for new or student ministers.

I also want to remain involved in organizing for racial justice, but I am not yet sure how. And, I used to think that starting a UU campus ministry at UMD-CP would be my retirement project after being your minister at least ten years, and that idea still appeals! But I hadn’t pictured hobbling round the campus with a cane!

Down the road a ways, I would love to have some involvement here- this really is the best UU congregation around!  But, we UU ministers have a covenant -that means we promise to each other -- to stay away after we leave a congregation, so that the next minister can have the space to become your minister. So that means my relationships with you need to change. If you see me out shopping or at a park or concert or whatever, we can certainly be friendly, but we wont spend time together as friends, and we definitely wont talk about church politics!

In July, your interim minister, Rev. Evan Keely, and I will talk about exactly what our ministers’ covenant means to us in this time and place, and we will let you know. He is a very experienced interim minister. I know him to be kind and honest, with a sense of humor. You will be in really great hands.

So that is what I see ahead for myself, although dimly.

For you, I see more children! And new members, some of them will live close enough to walk to church! Wouldn’t that be cool? Not having to worry about turning left as you enter, or come out of, the parking lot?! Other new members will be your co-workers and neighbors and the kids you go to school with - if you invite them!

I see a new parking lot in your future, and the Community Learning Center continuing to thrive!

I also see partnerships with nearby congregations of other faiths for the purpose of turning the world around, together- for the Earth, for peace and justice for black people and for equality for all. To Turn the World Around!

CHOIR     Turn the World Around             Belafonte and Freedman


MEDITATION ON JOYS AND SORROWS rewritten by Dayna to be kid-friendly, read aloud by her. The PCA, Mike, will group the cards, and pass them to Dayna.


OFFERTORY WITH SILENT STONES IN WATER OF JOY AND SORROW (set up: with two bowls of stones each held by a PCA- Mike and Lynn- at an end of the table, a much larger bowl of water in the middle and two lines, each coming from and forming in a side aisle, and returning to their seats via the center aisle, to reduce time waiting and congestion).


ANNOUNCEMENTS (limited to those about farewell event after and anything else absolutely necessary)


RITUAL OF RELEASE --Rev. Diane Teichert and Theresa Myrdon, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Bettie Young, former Chair, Ministerial Search Committee.


Bettie to Diane:

We have laughed together, cried together,

 Worshipped together, and worked for justice together.

Theresa to the congregation: We have hoped together, dreamed together, and attended lots of meetings together.

Bettie to the congregation: Please repeat after me,

  Now it is time to say goodbye.

People: Now it is time to say goodbye.

Diane: Now it is time to say goodbye.

Theresa to congregation:

In saying goodbye to Diane, we release her from her responsibilities as minister of Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. Will you join me in this release?

Bettie to the congregation:

Please repeat each phrase after me,

  With love in our hearts,

we release Diane

from her responsibilities

as our minister.

Theresa to Diane:

Now I ask you, Diane, do you release this congregation from its loyalty to you as our minister?

Diane: Yes, with love in my heart, I release you all from your loyalty to me and ask that you open yourselves to the ministers who will follow me, starting with your Interim Minister, Reverend Evan Keely.

Theresa to Diane:

Do you release the congregation from turning to you and depending on you to provide the ministries they seek?


Yes, I release you from relying on me and ask you to rely on the ministers who will follow me.

And, just as importantly, I release myself from wanting to be the one upon whom you rely.

To symbolize this mutual release, I hereby present my set of church keys to you, for you to pass on to Rev. Keely, when he starts in August.

Theresa: And, I now present to you half of the heartstrings on which we have written the sources from which we hope you will find strength and faith, as you enter into new ministries in the coming months and years. The other half of the heartstrings we will keep here at PBUUC, a reminder of our sources of strength and faith going forward.

RESPONSE       Spirit of Life (in Spanish - see page 3, then English)-

EXTINGUISHING THE CHALICE – worship leaders recess out,

DANCE POSTLUDE WITH RECESSIONAL- children present hearts they made to Diane

Better Things words/music by Ray Davies, recording by Dar Williams

Chalice Dancers,

Sharon Werth, Director and Choreographer

You can play an MP3 audio file of this sermon by clicking: HERE.

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