Dear Barbara, Ministers Have to Eat.

I wanted to address this comment very openly. This is a conversation I need to ask you all to have with me, and while this is not the way I hoped it would start, this is what I have:
back to work
Hi, Barbara. I a writing you as someone who is clearly a fan of the I Am UU page and what our mission is. I thank you for your constructive comment, as I am always interested in how people feel about my work and what I could be doing to have a greater impact.  I appreciate that you would like to see me, as the person doing 95% of the work on the project, doing the things that made it popular. I would really like that too.
The fact is that I started this project started when I was the at-home care giver for my mother. I had time to invest, and mom’s income covered a share of the bills, and this is what I chose to build. I am pretty proud of the results. My mother passed away in March. Since then, I have been trying to find a way to continue the I Am UU project and still pay the rent. It has become clear that I cannot give the 50 hours a week that I have been to the I Am UU project if I am also to take a full-time job elsewhere.
The simple fact is, Patreon is the creative solution. The realistic one, and one that many people have encouraged me to take, is to just give up the I Am UU project and get a “real job” somewhere. That is where I am headed, but I thought I would try something different first. I thought I would try to put my ministry first, and see if the 5,500 people who like the page might see fit to help me not only keep doing it, but do it better in the coming year. I thought I’d try to sell a few t-shirts, build a list of people who really care and have an extra dollar or two, and see if I couldn’t turn the project into a real job.
So, in truth, while your comment is absolutely not what I had hoped for, I need to hear from you, and from hundreds of other fans of the page. I need to know that you all see the message, and that you don’t think that the graphic design, the research, the writing, the administration of the social media, and the stewardship I take for Unitarian Universalism and the I Am UU community in particular, are worth supporting. I need to know that the thing I treat like a full-time job isn’t actually valuable to Unitarian Universalists, and that it is time to move on. Barring any feedback either way, I will have to take from the general silence that the vast majority agree with you. I won’t be asking much longer, either way.
I appreciate you taking a moment to let me know where you stand. I am sorry to say that you and I cannot both get what we want. I cannot “get back to the purpose” of the I Am UU page if I cannot feed and house my family. I cannot adequately express, at the moment, how much that hurts, but if I have to pick, the project will be put on the back burner. As of January 2nd, though, I will not be putting the same time and effort into the project unless my economic stability is somehow insured. I will do what I have pledged to do on Patreon, and I will not be able to do much more than that. Right now, that means a Monday Meditation each week, usually new, and shares of whatever else I run across during the week. I am going to keep pushing through the holidays, because I really hate to leave people during this season and because I keep hoping that I’ll reach the right set of people along the way.
So, Barbara, I understand if I’ve lost you as a fan of the page. I do feel bad about disappointing people. The people I worry about most, though, are my wife and kids. I am asking the I Am UU community to help me in this innovative method of funding innovative ministry. If other people step up, and I can stop making such a big deal out of it, maybe you’ll feel comfortable coming back?
Thomas Earthman

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