Imbolc Ritual

Join the UUS:E Pagan Study Group for a Multigenerational Ritual of Imbolc

Sunday, February 2nd, 3:00 – 5:00 PM at Unitarian Universalist Society: East Main Room
All are Welcome!

Imbolc or Imbolg also called (Saint) Brigid’s Day is a Gaelic traditional festival & pagan sabbat marking the beginning of spring and celebrating the goddess Brighid. It is held on February 1st or 2nd, or about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.  Please join us as the Wheel of the Year turns, the ice and snow begin to melt, and we begin to come out of our burrows!

Please bring a dish or light snack to share after the ritual, when we can exchange experiences and ideas.  Milk and cheese dishes are traditional for Imbolc, but whatever you bring will be fine.  We hope you can join us in the celebration.

If you are planning to attend, please RSVP at or 860.646.5151 to make sure we have enough supplies for all.

White Fragility Book Discussion

White Fragility - Robin DiangeloThursday, January 30, 6:30 PM In the Chapel

As part of our ongoing commitment at Unitarian Universalist Society: East to confront our own White Supremacy culture, Rev. Josh will continue a discussion of Robin Diangelo’s best-selling Beacon press book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism. If you didn’t participate in last June’s discussion, that’s not a problem. All are welcome. Purchase the book now! If you need help purchasing the book, or if you’d like childcare for the event, please contact Rev. Josh at 860-646-5151 or

Confronting Our Own White Supremacy Culture

an Antiracism Conversation

presented by members of the UUS:E Social Justice / Anti-Oppression Committee: Azucena Minaya Llantoy, Rhona Cohen, David Luchetti, Rev. Josh Pawelek

Sunday, January 19, 1:30 to 4:00

This workshop will consider:

  • The characteristics of white supremacy culture in institutions
  • Antidotes to those characteristics
  • The need to expand the Black/White dichotomy in dialogues on race
  • What we can do at UUS:E to build the beloved community

Please register with the UUS:E office during regular business hours at 860-646-5151 or Need childcare? Can’t make it but want to receive relevant information? Let us know!

Ministers Column January 2020

Dear Ones:

Happy New Year! I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season and are ready to begin 2020—UUS:E’s 51st year! Sorry, no big anniversary celebrations this year! But now that we’ve spent a year dedicating a good portion of our collective energy to reviewing the past five decades of our existence, it’s time to look forward. UUS:E leaders are beginning to envision a new strategic planning process. This process will be informed by the results of last year’s congregational survey. I am excited for us to now take a very intentional look at the future of our congregation!

Speaking of the new year, I’ve always loved a reading from the 20th-century Christian mystic Howard Thurman called “The Work of Christmas.” It’s #615 in our hymnal. He writes:

When the song of angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost, to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the [siblings],
to make music in the heart.

This reading says to me: “You’ve celebrated your values. Now that the festivities are over, put your values into action!”

Our ministry theme for January is integrity. Putting one’s values into action, living one’s values—which is what Thurman’s post-Christmas reading is about—is a definition of integrity. Our theme-based ministry resource, Souls Matters, reminds us that “Integrity stems from the Latin word ‘integer’ which means whole and complete. So integrity requires an inner sense of ‘wholeness’ and consistency of character. When you are in integrity, people should be able to visibly see it through your actions, words, decisions, methods, and outcomes. When you are ‘whole’ and consistent, there is only one you. You bring that same you wherever you are, regardless of the circumstance. You don’t leave parts of yourself behind.”

It has always been my hope that being part of the UUS:E community helps each of us to live with integrity—to be whole and consistent, to be fully ourselves. That is also my hope for us as a congregation. Within the context of our UU principles and our congregational covenant, what are our core values and how do we live them out? How do we put them into action? What is the shape of our integrity? How do people in the wider community recognize it? I suspect these will be ongoing, underlying questions for us as we begin taking that intentional look toward our UUS:E future. In the meantime, if you have thoughts about integrity, I’d love to hear them. Please feel free to reach out to me.

Once again, happy new year! Here’s to a great 2020 at UUS:E!

With love,

—Rev. Josh

Family Chalice Workshop

Join us to make your very own
Family Chalice!

Happy chalice

Saturday, January 11th, 5:00 – 7:00 pm

Enjoy pizza & drinks, learn about why the chalice is the symbol of our UU faith, and create your own personalized family chalice to use at home. Start a new family tradition!


RSVP by 1/8 to Gina at, or
on our facebook event page.

$3 per person suggested donation to help
defray the cost of pizza and supplies.

Honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 20, 2020 at 7 – 9 PM

(snow date January 27, 7 – 9)

“The Arc of the Universe Bends toward Justice.”

From the Rev.Theodore Parker to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The nineteenth-century Unitarian minister Theodore Parker believed that the main function of a democratic government was to promote and assure fairness and justice for all people. He influenced the thinking and writing of Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In this class, we will focus on the ways these three extraordinary men created our modern understanding of the nature of justice through the beauty and power of their sermons and speeches.
Led by UUS:E member Carol Lacoss, retired high school English and American Studies teacher

Ministers Column December 2019

Dear Ones:
When I explain Unitarian Universalism to people who have no familiarity with our faith, it is predictable that those who have at least some exposure to Christianity will ask some version of this question: If you do not believe Jesus is the son of God, why do you celebrate Christmas? It might also be this question: If you do not believe in the virgin birth (or the star, or the wise men, etc.,) why do you celebrate Christmas? A corollary question, which is even more difficult to answer: If you do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, why do you celebrate Easter?

I am not sure why, but this year, I am finding these kinds of questions frustrating. It is not the people who ask them—they are usually genuinely curious. What is frustrating is the uncritical assumption that a full-on, heartfelt embrace of Christmas requires a very specific set of beliefs. I am frustrated at having to explain (or at anticipating having to explain) that belief is only one pathway into Christmas. So much of what happens at Christmas has nothing to do with belief. It has to do with culture, family traditions, and the survival of ancient pre-Christian rituals. And it has to do with hope. The earth begins tilting its northern latitudes back toward the sun on the winter solstice. For millennia that phenomenon inspired hope in human hearts. Christianity came along relatively recently in the grand scheme of human history and grafted its stories and beliefs onto a more ancient and diffuse set of celebrations.

I do not read the Biblical stories about the birth of Jesus through the lens of belief. I read them as stories of hope—hope for peace on our planet. And that is all I am going to say when people ask me this year. I am a hopeful person. Moreover, our Unitarian Universalist faith is a hopeful faith. We celebrate Christmas—we worship on Christmas Eve—because we are hopeful people. And like everyone else, we hunger for hopeful messages, hopeful stories, hopeful visions. Like everyone else, we need that reminder that love keeps breaking into the world, repeatedly, bringing healing, transformation, and peace.

Yes, that is what I am going to say this year. We are hopeful people. We celebrate Christmas as, among other things, a way to affirm hope, to instill hope in our hearts, and to spread hope into a hurting world.


On another note: A friend of UUS:E is looking for housing, preferably an apartment with one bedroom that can accommodate two twin beds in the Manchester, Vernon or Rockville area, and preferably on or near a bus line. She can afford a maximum of $700. If you know of any leads, please let me know, and I will forward the info.


Friends: I wish you the very best holiday season, a Merry Christmas, and a very happy new year.

With love,

—Rev. Josh


Yule Ritual

Yule Ritual Flyer

Join the UUS:E Pagan Study Group for a multigenerational ritual of Yule Sunday, December 22nd, 2 – 4 PM  Unitarian Universalist Society: East Main Room

All are Welcome!

Yule is the pagan festival also called the Winter Solstice and celebrates the rebirth of the Sun and the Sun God. On Yule, we experience the longest night of the year. Although much of the winter’s harshest weather is still ahead of us, we celebrate the coming light and thank the Gods & Goddesses for seeing us through the longest night.  Join us to welcome the return of the sun!

Please bring either a light snack or a favorite holiday dish to share after the ritual, when we can share experiences and ideas.  We hope you can join us in the celebration.

If you are planning to attend, please RSVP to pr 860.646.5151 to make sure we have enough supplies for all.

Honoring the Past, Envisioning the Future

Affirmation Reunion December 1

Mark your calendars for the Affirmation Reunion on Sunday, December 1 (Thanksgiving weekend)! We’d love to see as many Affirmation Alums, Mentors and Advisors as possible—going all the way back to the first class in 1982! Stay for coffee hour to reconnect with “old” friends.
We are looking for alums from all decades to be greeters, chalice lighters, etc. at both services. Contact our office at if interested. And can you help build our contact list? Spread the word – the more “affirmammals” the merrier!

Jazz Concert Benefits UUS:E 50th Anniversary

The Amuse Blues Jazz Trio—our own Steve Dauphinais, Paul Shumsky, and Ryan Ford – returns with a relaxing afternoon of jazz on Sunday, November 3 at 4 PM. The trio brings an eclectic mix ranging from Cole Porter and Kurt Weill to Henry Mancini and Gabriel Faure. Suggested donation $15 for this 50th anniversary benefit concert, no one turned away.

What Legacy Will We Leave?

As we near the end of our 50th Anniversary year, what legacy are we leaving for those who will follow us – here and in the larger world? How does each of us give to our beloved community: our time, our treasure, our deep attention and so much more. These questions are the focus of the November 3 service, titled Looking Back, Looking Forward. We will honor the generosity of those who are no longer with us, and face the challenges of our future. Presented by Jean Labutis and the Legacy Giving Committee.

November Milestones ~ This Month in UUS:E History:

November 1970: Arnold Westwood installed as the first settled minister of Unitarian Universalist Society of Manchester.

November 1971: Our first holiday fair is held at Center Congregational Church. Two years later, it has become a very successful fundraiser and a focus of members’ energy, with workshops offered almost weekly.

Our Anniversary Twin Scarecrows on Main Street2019 UUSE Carecrow

Have you seen our happy pair of “care crows” in front of Bui Restaurant on Main Street in Manchester? Thanks to Carol Marion of the Growth Strategy Team, we’re bringing our celebration out into the community. Watch for the twins to make another appearance near the meetinghouse front door in November! UPDATE! The twins are now watching UUers arrive at the meeting house. Wave if you see them.

Holiday Worship with the Larger Manchester Community

Manchester Interfaith Thanksgiving ServiceManchester Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

Featuring Keynote Speaker, Diane Clare-Kearney of Manchester Adult Education

Sunday afternoon, November 24, 4:00 PM

At Temple Beth Sholom B’Nai Israel
400 East Middle Turnpike, Manchester, CT