A Note of Gratitude from Rev. Linda and Guest Post by Mel Ingalls
Thanks to the 13th Power – Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett
Beautiful Unity of SA community,
Celebrating our community’s thirteenth anniversary together last Sunday gave me a sweet opportunity to reflect on my amazing and blessed life. You guys know how to throw a party! Your expressions of gratitude are matched by mine. I feel utterly thankful for you.
Completion of lucky number thirteen, though, is certainly not an ending. We have only begun to master our purpose of opening hearts, transforming lives, and celebrating the Divine Identity of all. While I cannot promise another thirteen years, I commit to another year ahead, and I ask for your commitment to study, celebrate, serve, and share in spiritual community.
Think of the hearts that have been healed among us. Think of our children growing up to know their essential Godness. Think of mountains climbed, goals accomplished, and hurdles overcome because of the Unity message we broadcast. Think of the next person to enter our sanctuary on a Sunday morning who hungers to know their Divine Identity. Think of the person feeling themselves a misfit who is hoping for a place like Unity of SA to belong. Think of the importance of Unity of SA to you.
Celebrating, in Unity.
Remarks on the Occasion of Rev. Linda’s 13th Anniversary at Unity Church of San Antonio 6/26/16 by Mel Ingalls
Birdie asked me to reflect about Linda’s 13 years here at UCSA, because I was on the Board of Trustees when Linda was hired.
Wow! 13 years! In some ways it seems like Linda has always been with us, in other ways it seems like just yesterday that the Board was placing a call to Rev. Linda that we were asking her to come be our minister.
A lot has happened in those 13 years; thinking back there are some tangible things that stick out in my mind. One of the first things that we found out quickly was Linda saw how technology could be used by the church. The first thing she wanted was to install a projector and screen in the sanctuary. No more hymnals or printed bulletins. Now we have a great website and even use social media. Our style of music changed. We went from a grand piano playing “church music” to the band playing contemporary music. We increased our part time paid staff to better serve the congregation. One of the changes was to create the position of Communications Coordinator. While I think this idea was originally put forward by the board, Linda readily embraced it. We made the Youth and Family Ministry director a paid position. We also added the position of Sacred Service Coordinator. One of the most significant tangible things we did was to buy the office building on the corner of Lawndale and Broadway, which we named Unity Heights. Unity Heights gave us a place to expand into in an affordable way.
Other memorable changes to our campus since Rev. Linda’s arrival include:
- We moved the church offices to the Unity Heights building.
- We built the ramp so individuals with different abilities can get to the sanctuary with ease.
- We remodeled the old Youth Education building.
- We released two temporary buildings.
- We remodeled the sanctuary.
- We installed a new sound system in the sanctuary.
- We released the old Youth Education building when it could no longer safely serve us.
Rev. Linda brought intangible aspects to our community that deepened our spiritual life. We quickly learned that one of Linda’s strong character traits is her integrity. We often think of integrity in terms of financial and personal transactions. But it shows up in other places too, that you might not have noticed. To Linda, words have meaning, and what we call things influences our thoughts about them. For instance, have you noticed Linda does not call God “he” or even use the common Unity expression “Mother-Father God”? This is because Rev. Linda is firm in the understanding that God is not anthropomorphic, therefore God is neither “he” nor “she” but something else completely. We call our Sunday get-together a “Celebration,” not “worship,” because we are celebrating our life and our oneness with spirit. Our God is not an “old man in the sky” that needs to be worshipped for favors. We have a Sacred Service Coordinator, not a volunteer coordinator, because Linda teaches us all service is Sacred. Another way Lynda’s integrity shows up is in our belief that everyone is a manifestation of Spirit, and thus, the church’s event last year supporting gay marriage.
While we have grown with changes tangible and intangible, Linda has grown too. During the past 13 years we have participated in Linda’s growth into a nationally known spiritual Leader. Some events that come to mind: her ordination, publishing her first and second book, and she is currently serving on the Board of Directors of Unity International.
Finally, over the these past 13 years, she has touched all our lives in personal and significant ways. How many times have you left the sanctuary on Sunday morning thinking “She wrote those remarks just for me, that’s exactly what I needed to hear this morning?” For me personally, I remember shortly after Linda became our minister, she visited my dying mother who was living with me. She asked what my mother’s favorite song was. It was an old familiar hymn, and Linda sang it to her. From the look on my mother’s face, I could tell she must have been thinking it was an angel singing to her. A happier memory was a couple years later when Linda married Nancy and me. I know we all have moments we can recall, so think for a minute about those times Linda touched your life.
Linda, thank you for 13 years of service as our Spiritual Leader, for the all those tangible and intangible things that have supported and nourished our spiritual growth.