Saturday, April 22, 2017

Judy Bonner Retires as JAM Chair, Servant Leadership Role Model

After many years of servant leadership, Judy Bonner has retired as chair of our Justice Action Ministry.

She has done so in order to focus her social justice work on her long-time passion for racial justice and to spend more time with her immediate family.

As is the case with all great leaders, Judy made sure that her committee was not left without a dynamic new leader. She put out a call for the Justice Action Ministry’s next generation of leadership and Ramsey Laing answered the call. With that, Judy’s clinic in how to lead a committee was completed. 

Physical evidence of Judy’s past contributions to 1stUUPB abound. The Peace Pole just outside the Sanctuary,  the yellow congregational t-shirts, the Black Lives Matter banner, the JAM newsletter, and the Jam Facebook page are examples.

Programmatic evidence also abounds, including  the monthly community-grant collection and the scholarship program.  Her persistent efforts to get good turnouts for the Gay Pride Parade and the Martin Luther King parade are two more examples.  And, of course, we can’t forget her annual arm-twisting to boost our Congregation’s contributions to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. We, and she, won a national award for that.

I am sure that Judy would object to us giving her sole credit for those marvelous accomplishments. And she would be right. In most of the preceding examples, other 1stUUPB members were equally responsible for success. But Judy empowered them. That is what made her such an exemplar of servant leadership.

As Larry Stauber, one of her major partners, put it, Judy stands out, not only for her personal dedication to social justice, but also for her, “sense of the best way to accomplish social action and her instincts for effective organizing.” Or as Paul Coleman, another partner, observed, “ Working with Judy opens eyes. She is careful that emerging leaders channel their most constructive energies into effective, consistent action. This means hearing our objections and facing doubts so that no one feels herded or misused”.  A final perspective is provided by Rev C.J. McGregor’s recent letter of appreciation. In his words, “To fully honor our Unitarian Universalist faith we must understand that faith must be partnered with action. Judy Bonner models this in all areas of her life…. Judy has led our Congregation in creating a beloved community through creating opportunities for us to answer the call to justice.”

Passion, pro-action, patience, persistence and standing on the side of love. Those were some of the hallmarks of Judy’s servant  leadership of 1stUUPB’s Justice Action Ministry.

We can expect more of the same as she now sets out to lead us into a more intensive involvement in the campaign for racial justice and does so as part of Ramsey Laing’s Justice Action Ministry team.

In the meantime, let us celebrate this Congregation’s good luck in having Judy give us this marvelous clinic on servant leadership. A round of applause in admiration, appreciation and gratitude is appropriate at this time.