It is a deep privilege to be entrusted with people’s inner lives, with their fears and hopes and longings. It is equally a privilege to be allowed to accompany people through their darkest hours, and share in their greatest joys.
I believe that the greatest pastoral gift a minister can offer is deep, active listening. This is giving one’s whole and complete attention to the other person, providing a safe and loving container for whatever they need to share. Being heard in this way is the first step in spiritual healing and growth.
When I actively listen I intuit how best to accompany the person in need. In this section you will find samples of healing rituals, ceremonies, and guided meditations that I have developed for a variety of situations. There are also samples of pastoral prayers from worship services.
One unique aspect of my pastoral ministry is a deep attention to the relationships between humans and the interdependent web of all being. The essays, poetry, and meditations found on my website are intended to help ground people in these relationships. I have included below the instructions for a community Ceremony of Grieving and Healing, intended to help people deal with their despair over the state of the earth, which I have led for several Earth Day services.
Here is what a few congregants have said about my pastoral ministry:
“Leisa has the rare ability to be brilliant and maintain the common touch. She is approachable and connects with people, one on one…compassionately and authentically; her heart is open and people respond to her and her gentle guidance.” –Jan Holibaugh, member, FUCP
“One of our committee members described her ministry as a balance of Compassion and Challenge. I believe Leisa’s life and ministry are her spiritual practice. She lives the balance of compassion and challenge. I once told her ‘people fall in love with you and feel loved by you.’ Love is a central theme to Leisa.”—Jean Omelchuck, then-chair of Internship Committee, FUCP
“She has filled my needs as a minister has no one else has since I became a UU some twenty years ago. She is intellectually challenging and theologically nurturing. Her sensitivity is generous to those of us who seek her counsel and her wisdom…is astounding.”—Joan Sheard, former Trustee, UUCGT
“My most personal and profound appreciation for Rev. Leisa came about at the time when my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I could not accurately tally up the number of hours she devoted to us during the final weeks of his illness…Leisa visited Dan in the hospital, and later, she came out to the house (35 miles away), combining her first visit with a generous time talking with me, after which she sat beside Dan’s bed, stroking her Irish harp while speaking soft and comforting words to him…Rev. Leisa is the finest pastor I’ve ever had in all my 77 years.”—Mary Lee Orr, member, UUCGT
Here are a few of the pastoral resources I have developed (in addition to all the poems, prayers and meditations on my website):
(This was developed as an interfaith, international collaboration between an Irish Catholic nun, a Jesuit priest from South Korea, a Sufi from Arkansas, a UCC minister from Minnesota, and me. It is a participatory ceremony that has been performed at numerous UU congregations and at a water justice conference. It is different each time we do it, because each set of actors/dancers brings their own costume and prop ideas, as well as their own movements and expressions. It has been called “spectacular,” “powerful,” and “life-changing” by participants, and has brought several new members into UU congregations to stay.)
Here are two sample church newsletter articles on pastoral topics: