I wanted to see if some of you have had similar experiences related to your desire to be lay leaders of your congregation's worship service.
I decided over a year ago to become part of a smaller congregation (about 40 or less members) in the town where I live, also a Reform congregation.). They seemed to accept me, encouraged me to participate in lighting the Shabbat candles on Friday evenings. The average attendance is about 6 people or less except during the visit of the student rabbi. Congregations in this area are too small to support a rabbi even part-time.
I had the desire to apply to the Synagogue Associate program and am waiting to hear whether or not I was accepted. The prevailing attitude by congregation members is one of resistance. Few are supportive of the idea, some saying that my membership in the congregation is "too new." I should add that the congregation to which I belong in this small town is, understandably, kept alive primarily by generational memberships. Few relocate outside the town, few move into the congregation as adults.
I want to be more involved in the worship aspects of the temple congregation. My goal is not to become temple president or even president of the temple sisterhood, nor do I want to alienate others with my "enthusiasm" in wanting to expand temple worship opportunities in the communal sense. My goal is to provide lay leadership qualities related to what might be called "ministries" such as visiting the sick, continuing to lead temple services and try to get the congregation more involved than just on High Holy Days or visitation times by the rabbinical student.
Would like to hear if any of you have had similar experiences as you've developed your lay ministry roles, and especially if you came into your temple participation from the background of a convert.
Feb 2005 Digest 037
 encourage [Patricia] to go for it. Too often we rely on the past without creating for the future. Lay involvement in all of the areas you have mentioned are vital to growth, retention, and above a spiritual connectiveness to our people. When you decided to stand at Sinai with the rest of us, we promised you equality with all Jews. Your willingness to give of yourself is the standard to which all Jews should aspire. Michael
Feb 2005 Digest 037
We have all met with resistance-- fight it. We have all met with mockery-- resist it. We have all had our motives questioned--answer the questions with g'milut chasadim. Tenacity, passion and perseverance are the qualities that we must have to make Torah truly part of our lives. No spiritual journey is easy--it is not supposed to be. Ahad Ha'am said: "The higher and more distant the ideal, the greater its power to exalt the soul".
Here is a prayer for you: "Oh G-d, help me to overcome suspicion by being patient and trustworthy".
My only other suggestion: Try not to use the word "ministry".
Feb 2005 Digest 038
Your small congregation probably fears change, especially when initiated by an "outsider" (that is, a new member). It will take time for them to see that you're not planning to revamp all their services and sign the congregation up for large projects or the like. Keep doing what you're doing, talk to the leaders and other members, and move slowly when introducing new ideas. But pursue them and introduce them; that's how we all grow. Monica 860 households