The Reverend Michael F. Hall has been the settled minister at the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church since the summer of 2012. From the outset, Rev. Michael (or just plain Michael, if you please) has sought to build a “Multigenerational Culture,” by creating an atmosphere where each generation is engaged, included and reverenced for its unique and timeless contributions to our unified community.
Among his most treasured memories of congregational life in Keene are the beautiful, poignant community vigil in 2016 to honor the memory of the 49 lives lost in the horrible violence at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida; the joy-filled service the church put on when he was installed as its 23rd settled minister on St. Patrick’s Day 2013—what a celebration, complete a jazz combo and chocolate fountain; and the annual process he shares with lay-leaders in creating the innovative, whole-church experience known at KUUC as “Month of Sundays.”
During his time in Keene, Rev. Hall has also served as chair of the Keene Interfaith Clergy and the United Campus Ministry to Keene State College and is a member of the City of Keene’s Martin Luther King/Jonathan Daniels Committee. Michael also was honored to participate in the presentation, “Learn, Love, Act: The Morals of the Minimum Wage” at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly in Providence, RI in 2014.
Michael took his first sabbatical in 2018 which he spent studying historical Universalism in the Monadnock Region. His sabbatical also emphasized contemplative practices and the captivating, restorative powers of Nature. He is currently deepening his own contemplative practice as part of the first class of the Genesis School for Contemplative Living in Westfield, Massachusetts.
Michael is a native of the Bay State, and his first career was in “living history” at a well-known museum in Plymouth, MA. He also spent several years as a Case Manager on the Dual Diagnosis Unit of detox where, among other duties he developed spirituality-based group therapy sessions. He lives in Keene with his wife Jill and their three children.
Sharing Ministry Moment: September 2020
We have a good time together, even when we are not together.
It is in times like these, when there are too many things happening that we cannot control, and it seems as though the Earth might spin off it its axis— or be knocked off—for all the violence and changes it has endured at our hands, that we need community such as we find at KUUC. Yet even that has been challenged by the ongoing menace and potential for a rapid uptick in Covid-19 cases with schools about to start up and the increased mobility of people visiting with family and taking late summer vacations.
For this reason, some of us have begun to pine for more time together as a congregation, to worship, work and connect in person. It is understandable and an important acknowledgement of what the church building and congregational life means to you, me, to us. Yet, public safety and our collective health requires us to forego in-person gatherings for now, and at least as concerns large-scale gatherings, for the foreseeable future.
And yet, and yet, we still have each other. So far, the pandemic has not touched our membership, as far as I know, despite the fact that many of us are at risk due to our age or ongoing condition— even though a recent report showed that the highest number of cases by age group in New Hampshire are among those in their 20s, followed by those in their 50s.
I mention these things not to increase our collective anxiety but to reinforce our collective resolve, to do all that we can to stay healthy while not giving in to feelings of loneliness, worry, anger and depression.
Acceptance is needed to move forward together into this new normal so long as it lasts. This is not the end of times, but they sure are curious times, and so we need to remain curious ourselves, and maintain our sense of humor while keeping in touch with each other. Making connections in ways that are comfortable for us: by telephone, handwritten notes, through Zoom meetings and instant messaging, and in-person chats outside, (even though it might mean wearing a mask and keeping at a safe distance) is critical; so that our people remember that we are ever connected and that we care for each other. You are never alone, and as the Hall of Fame baseballer and accidental philosopher, Lawrence P. “Yogi” Berra said about his wife: “We have a good time together, even when we are not together.”
To that end, I hope to begin some new ways for us to get together, [see below]. I also want to learn from you what kind of complementary worship, congregational programs and learning opportunities you are interested in and would be willing to do. This time could be transformational if we make the best of it.
We can do this. “We” can do what “I” never can do alone.
Yours in Faith & Fellowship,