the Rev. Dr. Lindsay Bates, Minister Emerita
The Era of the Rev. Dr. Lindsay Bates
"Tamer of Foxes"
Senior Minister 1978-2018, Minister Emerita 2018-Present.
The protagonist in Antoine de St. Exupery's "The Little Prince" traveled among planets in search of life's great meanings. He visited a field of roses as advised by his new friend, the fox. The prince told the flowers they meant nothing to him, that they were not like the singular rose he had nurtured on his home planet. "No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world."
Our 18th minister, the Rev. Dr. Lindsay Bates, holds deep affection for the fox. Before a childhood surgery upon her congenitally dislocated hip, her parents gave her a little fox for comfort and courage. She has since treasured the fox (hence has received hundreds as gifts) along with St. Exupery's tale and the fox's two simple secrets: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye," and "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."
Sometimes this responsibility weighs heavily upon our human minister as it did the day she stated she felt like "the mother of 300 dirty sock flingers," when doors had been left unlocked, the thermostat turned up, dirty dishes in the kitchen, the copier motor on.
It is especially fitting that she should choose a post in the Fox Valley (a good omen, she says) for her first ministry. She came to us straight out of the Meadville/Lombard Theological School, at the age of only 26, bright, single, female and a transplant of the Cape Cod area. This congregation was alarmed by neither her gender, nor her young age, as she had feared, but was more concerned that she might become homesick for the East and leave us.
Her application stressed her belief that we (all UUs) should be aware of the RELIGIOUS nature of our community; she was concerned over a tendency in some churches in the movement to "substitute spiritual, psychological and religious faddism for our legitimate faith. We all are members of a historically transcendent, continuing community, not just a social action committee or simply a friendship club."
Dr. Bates is a theist who doesn't see God as "Big Daddy in the sky." She says yes to life, and recently said, "God is process, the experience of love, what we seek to be close to." Moreover, it seems to her that it's the will of the universe that it is compassion we should turn to.
The May 1978 congregational vote to invite her was overwhelming. Gloria Mansfield says it was a wonder the relationship got off to such a warm start because the church housed Lindsay in the old Geneva Hotel for her trial sermons, and then lent her a haunted house for a parsonage. Stuart Mansfield was chairman of the board then, followed by the election of Harry Shuemaker in June of 1978. At Dr. Bates's ordination and installation on October 29,1978, the Rev. Donald King was named Minister Emeritus, and Dr. Charles Lyttle (long-time Minister Emeritus) addressed the congregation for the last time. Dr. Bates appreciated all of Don's help in getting acquainted with the ways of our church, relinquishing her pulpit occasionally to him as guest minister in the years ahead. To the delight of both pulpit and pew, her ministry at UUSG lasted 40 years. Dr. Bates retired in June of 2018 and was elected Minister Emerita.