Farewell from Rev. Bob Janis-Dillon, Congregational Connections Lead

3 August 2021

A special message from Rev. Bob Janis-Dillon, our Congregational Connections Lead, who is leaving the UK to take up a position overseas. We wish Bob every success and thank him for his great service to the Unitarian movement in the UK.

Here’s a special video message from Bob, also available in text form below.

Hello, this is Bob Janis-Dillon your Congregational Connections Lead at the General Assembly for Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, and this is my last official weekly update, as this is my last week on the job. As you may – or may not – have heard, I am moving back to the US, where I’ll be in ministry on the other side of the pond.

It has been a great privilege to serve you as Congregational Connectional Lead these last several months. The idea behind this brand new position has been to foster connections between congregations, equipping leaders of congregations and districts and societies to help them do the work they do so well. And while it all feels like it went in the blink of an eye, I felt like together we did some good stuff since December – I’ve gotten to be a fly on the wall, or a cheerleader in the corner, for many inspiring conversations about how congregations can revitalize their worship, and their outreach, their financing and membership, and how we can all find a way to make an impact on our community and be a place (virtually or in our buildings) for spirituality, inspiration and transformation.

I’d like to thank the staff team here at Essex Hall (so to speak, I’ve not been physically in the building since I started). We Unitarians are blessed with an amazing team of innovative servant leaders, who care deeply about this movement and are so dedicated to bringing their full selves to this work. Thank you to Elizabeth Slade and Simon Bland for taking a chance on me – I have learned so much from you and I’m so grateful for this opportunity. Thank you for everyone on the team here – Andrew and Audrey, Rory, Gavin, Melda, David and Cherralyn – you all bring so many diverse and wonderful gifts to this work – it’s been such a great team to work with.

And thanks to the larger team – you. From the UDRN to all the congregational chairs and finance leaders and worship leaders, my dear ministerial colleagues, all the Leading Change class, and everyone who I’ve been engaged in this work with… thank you for your courage. Thank you for your creativity and wisdom. Thanks for putting up with me. If I said the wrong thing or didn’t answer an email, my apologies and hopefully you will forgive me.

I’m going back to America with a vision of what human fellowship might be, a vision that has been glimpsed, lived out, time and time again in our congregations and in our movement. We have known profound, and lonely, disconnection this pandemic but we have also heard echoes, seen glimpses of what beloved community is all about. We have felt what it is like when we really value one another, treat each other as full participants in a world of kindness and compassion and justice. We know how important we are to one another nowadays. We know how important it is to be connected to one another, connected to our earth, and connected with our own spirit, with the divine, with what is precious. These kinds of connections make life truly worth living.

To those of you who are helping our congregations live out this dream of connection, of beloved community, have a wonderful summer. Take a little time to rest, to dream… you can’t do it alone. But keep believing that vitality – the fullness of life – is right here with us, it’s achievable when we are true to ourselves, when we reach down deep and we welcome the stranger, welcome one another.

Remember you are loved and loving, worthy and beautiful and part of this glorious mud and stars and consciousness and stuff that we know as our universe. It’s good to be here with you. See you on the road.