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Koyle answers call for Unitarians

"Ending a 40-year tradition of being led by lay members, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap County has called a minister.Rick Koyle will begin leading services for the fellowship beginning Sept. 3.From listening to our members, there was obviously a need for leadership, said Donna Mohr, president of the fellowship's board of trustees. Not for a leader per se, but for the qualities of leadership.Koyle graduated from the Starr King School of Ministry in 1998, and served a parish internship with the Unitarian Universalist Church in San Mateo, Calif.Prior to entering the ministry, Koyle was a lawyer and law-school teacher for 20 years in Oakland, Calif.The decision to call Koyle stemmed from a lengthy but thorough internal process, Mohr said.An initial meeting revealed that 43 of the 45 members present wanted a minister. The membership then elected a search committee, which canvassed the members concerning their beliefs and desires, and assembled an information package that was circulated at ministry schools.A number of inquiries were received. Rather than present a number of candidates to the fellowship for a vote, which can lead to people choosing favorites and hard feelings developing, Mohr said, the committee tentatively selected Koyle, and invited him to spend a weekend with the membership.After that weekend, the membership was asked to vote, and unanimously agreed to invite Koyle.Koyle will be as much a counselor as a strictly religious minister, Mohr said.Sometimes when we make major life transitions we don't do well, she said. Many of our members said they wanted to be able to turn to a trained counselor.Koyle has written a book called Building a Worship Associates Program which is now in its 13th printing, and has led numerous workshops based on that book. Koyle describes himself as an agnostic, because I do not know if there is a God. But he goes on to label himself a theist, because in spite of not knowing, I choose to believe there is a power greater than myself, which I call God.The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap County calls itself a liberal religious fellowship of individuals who support each other's unique paths towards spiritual growth and join together to nurture diversity, justice and compassion in their own and their wider communities.Mohr said the fellowship has about 75 members and 50 friends, the latter of whom are not formal members but who frequently attend and take part in the fellowship's activities.The fellowship holds services on the first, third and fourth Sundays of the month at 10:30 a.m., and an adult program on the second Saturday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Hyla Middle School on Bucklin Hill Road. "

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