From Our Previous Minister, Mary Gear…

Minister’s Newsletters


Imagine 4000 or more Unitarian Universalists gathered together to worship, sing, discuss, learn and conduct the business of our denomination. That is our annual General Assembly. This year we gathered in Columbus, Ohio, complete with humidity and a genuine mid-west thunderstorm.

UUFM was well represented by Kris and Nathan Gabrielson; both Kris and I served as delegates from the fellowship. I was especially happy to see Nathan carry the UUFM banner as part of the traditional banner parade that opens GA, where hundreds of people march banners from hundreds of UU congregations and fellowships through the gathering hall. It is a breath-taking and wonderful sight!

I witnessed our democratic process in action, messy as it can be sometimes. There were several contentious issues up for a vote and some people were not happy with the outcome. There were many workshops to attend, more than any one person could possibly attend, and much information to take in. Kris and I will give an update on our experiences after the service on Sunday, July 3. Please plan to join us!

GA next June will be in New Orleans, and will be a “justice GA” focused on racial justice issues. It is sure to be a rousing and worshipful time. I hope to see you there.

In faith,

Mary Gear




Did you attend Sunday School when you were a kid? I did–Lutheran Sunday School, while my parents were in church. What I remember most is happy stories about Jesus, and playing with lots of kids!

Like many Unitarian Universalists , I came to our denomination from a different religious tradition, finding my way to UU as an adult. I am often amazed and in awe of the religious education received by the children and youth raised as UU. And, maybe a little bit jealous! How wonderful to be exposed to all of the variety of religious traditions in the world, each one seen as having value. How fantastic to be able to learn about sexuality in a warm and inclusive way that affirms the many ways that we are human. How great to be told that we can develop our own beliefs and that they may change over the course of our lives. These are important messages and experiences for our next generation.

This week our Director of Religious Education, Dominique Bjorlin, resigned from her position effective at the end of the summer. It has been an honor to work with Dominique this year and I am so grateful for all that she has done to contribute to the spiritual development of the children and youth of UUFM. Please take a moment to thank her when you see her next!

The fellowship will be looking for ways to make sure that the religious development of our children and youth continues, and that the RE program is supported. I invite you to consider the ways in which you can support our next generation, too. They need us all.

In fun and in faith,

Mary Gear




This week Jews all over the world celebrate the holiday of Passover. Families and friends will gather for Seder dinners to honor the journey of the Israelites out of Egypt and into the desert toward the promised land. This story is important for Jews because it is part of the journey of a people who have a long history filed with struggle and hope. The story is important for Christians because the last supper that Jesus shared with his disciples was a Seder dinner in celebration of Passover.

This ancient story of slavery and freedom has been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. As we move out of this week of Passover, I invite you to consider what stories and rituals that have been passed down through the generations to you. And, what stories and rituals will you pass on to others?

Peace. Salaam. Shalom.





We just celebrated two holidays of rebirth and renewal. The first was the vernal equinox, the first day of Spring. This holiday is called Ostara by those who follow the Earth Centered traditions. On this day, we are equally between the long nights of winter and the long days of Summer; the light and the dark are in balance. There is a sense of anticipation and hope as the Earth comes to life again, as trees bud, as flowers bloom, and as animals awaken from a winter of hibernation. Out of the darkness, we move into the light once again.

We also celebrated Easter and the week leading up to it. Christians speak of the darkness of Good Friday leading to the light and hope of Easter morning. While we may not see the resurrection as a reality, we can probably all relate to the sense of renewal and rebirth that this holiday represents.

This Spring, I invite you to notice what is being born or reborn in your life. What is calling you into renewal? What edge are you perched on, in balance, waiting to step into what comes next?

May your next steps be ones of joy and adventure.


Mary Gear


March 6, 2016
“Change is good…You go first. “
This phrase is on bumper stickers, t-shirts and is the title of a book about leadership. It expresses our ambivalent relationship with change: we know it’s inevitable and necessary, and we know it can be hard. Even the changes we want and initiate can be hard. And, we have different tolerances for change; some of us thrive on novelty and others are most comfortable with routine. Most of us have some of both depending on what the type of change is.

This year has been one of change for UUFM. Hiring a minister was a big step and we have been in transition all year as we’ve learned shared ministry together. For some, the change has been hard and we’ve reached their limit of tolerance for things being different. Others are looking for what the next new things might be.

This week I let you know that I will not be available to serve you next year in the event that you would want me to. This is another change for the fellowship. Even as we have settled into some routines and gotten somewhat comfortable with each other, we’ll say goodbye some time this Summer.

It is in times of change that we most need each other, to listen as we process what has happened, to help us make meaning in what has occurred, and just to be with us as we adjust to the new. For these next few months, we’ll be together in community as we clarify the lessons learned this year, make decisions about the future of the fellowship, and begin to adjust to whatever is to come. I look forward to this time with you.




January 3, 2016

Happy New Year!

Often we make resolutions about how we will be “new and improved” in the New Year.  Gym memberships and diet plans prosper in January, as do sales of various items guaranteed to make us more attractive, fit, or prosperous.  And, we all know how those resolutions and guarantees work out.

This New Year I invite you to think instead of possibilities.  What is possible for you this year?  What is new and inviting?  What is familiar and grounding? What is there, in front of you waiting for attention?  What or who is calling to you?

A wise friend once advised me to invest in what I loved, what keeps me grounded. This New Year, may you invest in and experience the many possibilities that are before you.

On January 3 I will be finishing up serving as the chaplain at the Winter Eliot Institute in Seabeck, Washington.  I will join you again on January 17 to lead the service.  On that day, I will preach a “Question and Answer” sermon, where I respond to your burning questions about theology, spirituality, church life and almost anything else.  You will have the opportunity to write down your questions during the service.  If you’d like to submit your question in advance, feel free to e-mail me.

Wishing you many blessings in the New Year!

Mary Gear



December 6, 2015

This year is an experiment in shared ministry at UUFM.  So, what is that anyway?

In the recent survey of the fellowship, some of you said that shared ministry is sharing the work of the community with other denominations.  Some of you said that it is sharing the fellowship with a minister.  Still others said that it was shared leadership between a minister and the fellowship.  And, you are all right.

While the idea of shared ministry is a fairly new one in many denominations, it has been around for a long time in our Universalist tradition.  It typically means that the works of a fellowship—the ministries– are shared between a minister and the congregation.  It recognizes that there is much work to do, that people have different gifts, and that it takes all of us to do the work we are called to.

So yes, shared ministry is sharing the work of our ministries with each other and with our larger community and world.  It takes all of us.  Thank you for inviting me to share this path with you, and thank you for the work that you all do.

A note about my schedule—In January I will be preaching on the 3rd Sunday rather than my usual first Sunday.  On January 3 I will be finishing my service as the chaplain at the Winter Eliot Institute.  I will be with you again on January 17.

Next office hours at Cornerstone Coffee from 1-3 PM: December 6 and January 17.





October 23, 2015

What fills you up again when you are weary? We all get there; sometimes after a hard day or week or month or year. Sometimes our bodies are tired and our souls are even more tired. What fills you up again?

For some people, especially those who do social justice work, it is a return to their values, beliefs, principles; some call it a return to spirit. They remember why they do the hard work in the first place, and they call on their values—spirit—to fill them up again.

This is the work of our religious communities. They are places where we can go to refuel our minds and hearts and souls, so that we can continue to do the hard work that we are called to do. This is why we gather in community-to remember who we are and why we work for justice.

After the service on November 1, various groups in UUFM will be available to answer your questions about how you might be involved in the work of our religious community. Won’t you join us? In peace and with hope for justice, Mary Gear 971-266-4327

P.S. My next office hours will be Sunday, November 1 from 1-3 PM at Cornerstone Coffee at 216 NE Third. Please stop by!



September 28, 2015

This is a time of transition. Teachers and students have returned to school.  The official church year has begun with our Water Communion Service. It was so good to be with you to welcome the new year and three new members!

One of the roles of a minister is that of a pastor; we are with members of our congregations as they make transitions.  These transitions can include birth, death, marriage, divorce, empty nest, celebrations and sorrows–any change that causes us to seek meaning.  As your minister, I am also your pastor.  As you invite me to, I will be there for you as you navigate the transitions in your life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a transition, or if you’d like to talk about your journey, please let me know.  I’d be happy to set up a time and place for us to talk.  I will also be holding regular office hours in McMinnville so you can just stop by.

My first office hours will be after service and reception Sunday, October 4 from 2-3:30 pm at Cornerstone Coffee at 216 NE Third.  Please stop by!  I look forward to talking with you.

In peace,

Mary Gear



August 31, 2015

Hello UU Fellowship of McMinnville!

I am so pleased to have been invited to share this next year in the life of the fellowship! I know that I will learn a lot this next year, and hope we all will.

Although my official start date is September 1, I have been happy to join you for some things this month. First was the picnic at the Moore’s—what fun that was, sprinkles and all!  I attended a retreat with your hardworking board, a board meeting, a Transition Team meeting and a Worship Planning meeting.  It looks to be an exciting year!

We also mourn the loss of Otis Woodard. Visits with Otis and his family were my first pastoral calls for UUFM, and it was an honor to be included in that precious time.  We will celebrate Otis’s life together in the weeks to come.

September will bring my internship at First Unitarian Church in Portland to a close.  I’ll attend my first service at UUFM on September 20 and preach on October 4.

Communication is important, so I will set up regular office hours and do updates monthly.  Please do contact me if you’d like to talk or meet individually.

See you soon!
In gratitude,

Mary Gear