I’ve been part of Kensington Unitarians for many years. I first started attending over 14 years ago, sitting at the back so I could slip out quietly at the end of the address, to make it to my Sunday retail job at the time… I wonder if the then minister thought I was just trying to avoid the collection!
But no. I found people to be very welcoming, and started attending other activities, such as the ‘Building Your Own Theology’ and ’12 Steps To Spiritual Health’ courses, and more. Over the years I have volunteered in various ways. I started writing little pieces for the newsletter and then doing the odd reading during services. I helped organise outings, including a trip to a Zoroastrianism exhibition and a day trip to Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire.
My background in teaching led me to help run small groups such as the Women’s Group, a ‘Spirituality and Sexuality’ course, and many in-person ‘Heart and Soul’ gatherings. I also co-facilitated ‘Heart and Soul’ workshops at national Unitarian gatherings, such as FUSE, with Jane, to enable other congregations to begin running their own gatherings.
In 2014 I attended the district’s Worship Studies Course, which Sarah and Jane ran at the church, and starting leading occasional Sunday services, both at Kensington Unitarians, and in other Unitarian Churches, Chapels and Fellowships across South East England. Complementing this, I completed a Unitarian Rites of Passage course, and became an Authorised Person for Essex Church, carrying out the legal marriage paperwork for weddings.
A while after this we started Themed Ministry, and alongside Jane, we supported Sarah to lead services around a monthly theme, culminating in an after service workshop exploring each month’s theme. Themed Ministry ran until the church was forced to close due to the pandemic in 2020. When we started holding our services online during the lockdown, my volunteering moved more behind the scenes. Although technical skills weren’t my strength, some training from Jane enabled me to help with the tech side of services, which I continue to do now with our hybrid services.
It was also during the two years that the church was closed that I joined the management committee, and then became a Trustee also, taking on the role Chair last October, only stepping down in order to take on this new role of ‘Community Development Coordinator’ as part of the staff team.
In some ways, in this new role I’ll be doing many of the things I’ve done in one capacity or other before, such as leading Sunday services, facilitating groups and supporting our Minister, Jane. However I’ll also now have a focus on projects which help to build our congregation, co-ordinating rites of passage, and developing behind-the-scenes admin and governance processes to assist organisational transformation. I hope this will help to settle the church into a new routine which will take us forward and strengthen our community for the years to come.
Jeannene Powell, Autumn 2023
To contact Jeannene, email: firstname.lastname@example.org