Rev. Linda Bunyard
Rev. Linda Bunyard was Live Oak’s Interim Minister from August 2012 through June 2014. During that time, she improved a great many of Live Oak’s processes and helped us through a trying time. Following her tenure at Live Oak, Rev. Bunyard retired to New Mexico, where she is now an itinerant Minister.
Rev. Linda’s last Interim Journal Entry, June 26, 2014
By now most of you know that I am going into semi-retirement in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Many of you have asked why that town: do I have family there? The best way I can describe this is that I have been looking for "home" for a long time.
I have had a love affair with New Mexico since I was a child. Seeing the kiva and the ruins at the town of "Aztec," renamed because archeologists saw similarities to Aztec culture. Growing up in "Pueblo" Colorado has given me a thirst for learning more about the culture of the Pueblo peoples. Pueblo was a part of Spanish land holdings centuries ago and I grew up people of both Spanish and Mexican heritage.
When I found my birth family in 1995 I discovered that all five sisters had been conceived in Carlsbad (the town, not the caverns). My great, great grandmother Refugio Reyes was born in the mining country in southern Chihuahua, and all her children were born in El Paso. My sister, Lucile, who is here in Austin this week to help me pack and drive to my new home has just brought new information about the family in El Paso in the early 1900s, so I am looking forward to exploring that city and seeing old sites.
I have a new home in Las Cruces at the edge of the university neighborhood (New Mexico State University). The moving van is coming next Monday, June 30th.
I am looking forward to using my ministry experience and passion as a consultant to very small congregations in southern New Mexico. And I am looking forward to letting the creative spirit move in my life with music, writing and arts and crafts.
Rev. Linda’s Journey
Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church will be the fourteenth congregation I have served during the twenty years since my ordination at the Unitarian Church of Davis, California, in 1991.
My very first opportunity in the parish was in 1992 at the UNIVERSALIST Unitarian Church of Joliet, Illinois. The congregation began in the 1880s and the building was over a hundred years old. I fell in love with interim work that first year, but thought I should be settled and went on to be installed at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the next fall.
Settled ministry offers the opportunity to make inroads in the community and to develop sermons and curricula and programs as the church grows. However, I am drawn to the redeeming work of transition ministry. As an interim minister I am able to (and usually given the authority to) make needed changes and teach new ways of doing church, not to mention bring a sense of love and affirmation to the congregation. Interim ministry redeems the congregation by preparing them for another longer term relationship with a ministerial partner. It redeems the interim minister by allowing her to start over remembering to, in the words of Howard Thurman, "Keep fresh before me the moments of my High Resolve."
I count it an act of amazing grace that I was called to the Unitarian Universalist ministry and a privilege that I get to do all the things I love and use my talents in my "day job." I first felt the call to ministry as a teenager in the pew of my Southern Baptist church in the steel mill town of Pueblo, Colorado. I inquired about seminary back then but the Southern Baptists weren’t admitting "girls" in the 1960s. It wasn’t until I found All Souls Unitarian Church in Colorado Springs in 1983 that I found a church that would accept me "just as I am" with all my doubts, my varied theological and spiritual interests and a strong dose of feminism. I experienced my first General Assembly in 1986 in Rochester, New York. It was that year that I applied to Starr King School for the Ministry, at the Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley, California.
In addition to the Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet, I have served these congregations: Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming; Phoenix, Glendale, Chandler, and Green Valley, Arizona; Spokane, Washington; Las Vegas, Nevada; Savannah, Georgia; and Spartanburg, South Carolina.