Dear SI Community:
For a second year I must tell you that our theme speaker has regretfully cancelled. Rev. Abhi Janamanchi has notified me that he is attending to an ongoing family crisis and will likely be occupied during SI week. After speaking to him at length we both agreed that, given the nature of the circumstances, he should concentrate on navigating his family through a difficult time.
Our loss of a theme speaker is unfortunate, but we knew from our experience last year that the Planning Committee and the community as a whole can shoulder through such a difficulty. The Planning Committee consulted with Rev. Janamanchi and OMD staff to assemble a list of promising candidates for a replacement.
As we began our search process Rev. Joan Van Becelaere, the OMD District Executive, promised that if we could not find a replacement speaker, she would be willing to serve. Knowing that we had Joan as a backstop took much of the stress out of the search process. Anyone who has taken one of her seminars can tell you that she is an excellent presenter with a broad base of knowledge and a religious scholar with wide-ranging research interests.
We understand that the SI community enjoys the opportunity to hear from voices from outside the district, so we proceeded with our search. Unlike last year we were unable to quickly find someone whose schedule would permit making the commitment a few months from SI. After going through our list we reached a point where researching additional candidates would cut into planning time with no guarantee that asking more people would yield a replacement. And we knew that in our back yard we had a presenter of the quality that the community has come to expect. We therefore confirmed with Joan our wish to accept her offer.
So I am pleased to announce that our theme speaker for 2015 will be Reverend Joan Van Becelaere whose theme will be “Faith, Evolving: How American Religion Is Changing and What It Means for Unitarian Universalism.”
As always, we thank the SI community for your continued trust, support and patience. On behalf of the SIPC, we look forward to seeing you in Oberlin.
2015 SIPC Chair