Long-Term Ministry Has Its Rewards

Published on: December 1, 2012

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Can you imagine moving a ministry 10 times, to 4 different communities, in a span of 28 years? Welcome to my world!

Unity of Aliso Viejo, CA began as a small study group. The church was incorporated as Christ Unity Center of Life of the South Coast Area. The difficulty in finding an appropriate and affordable location in Southern California has been one of our greatest challenges. With each move we changed our name. An ongoing jest in the area has been, “If you can find them, you get to come!”

Each move has given our ministry the opportunity to evaluate effectiveness, take time for renewal, and experiment with innovation. Annual board training by Rev Beth Ann Suggs and Barbara O’Hearne has proved invaluable. As we experienced staff changes, and worked with different boards each year, the contributions from key leaders have helped facilitate change, build diversity, and create valuable alliances with community organizations. While a long-term ministry can be challenging, it can also be very gratifying.

It had always been my intention to serve a ministry long-term. I feel blessed to have chosen a beautiful part of the country, close to family and friends. Choosing a geographical location that feeds your soul and having family nearby can make all the difference during challenging times.

There are countless benefits to long-term ministry­—the opportunity to build close, lasting relationships and to witness the transformation that occurs when individuals embrace Unity principles and continue to demonstrate the Truth. Even as our ministry has grown, it has been important to me to be accessible. I have had the privilege of walking through unspeakable sorrow and sharing immense joy with congregants over many years. I have officiated at weddings for members I christened when they were infants, and stood beside them to say farewell to parents.

The ministry has supported four candidates through seminary: Revs Diana McDaniel, Ross Campbell, Kurt Condra and Linda Vincent. We currently have four more candidates in the Spiritual Education and Enrichment (SEE) program. The bonds of trust that develop over long-term ministry are truly sacred and humbling. I am so very blessed!

Margaret Melanie
Rev Margaret Melanie retired in Oct 2014 after serving Unity of Aliso Viejo since her ordination in 1984. She now volunteers at a local military base. She served in leadership positions for Unity Worldwide Ministries, Southwest Unity Region, Interfaith Council of South Orange County and Orange County Interfaith Council for the Environment.

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