Emergency Preparedness – Everyone Evacuate the Building!

A Message from the UUS:E Emergency Management Team 

“Everyone evacuate the building!” Hearing this during a Sunday Service, you will know the Emergency Response Plan has been activated. But what do you do? If it happens during a Sunday service:

  • You must leave the building, using both exits out to the parking lot.
  • Go to your car and remain in your car.
  • If you have a child on the garden level, you may assemble at a safe distance from the front of the building so that your child can brought to you.
  • If you are on the Garden Level when the alarm is sounded, RE children and staff are to exit the building at the nearest exit and assemble at a safe distance from the building.
  • Adult RE leaders will bring small groups of children at intervals around to the front of the building to be reunited with their parents.

Very important: fire apparatus must come down the exit ramp—STAY IN YOUR CARS AND DON’T DRIVE OUT, CLOGGING THE WAY FOR RESPONDERS! Wait for fire officials to let you know you can leave.

PS—a fire drill is coming soon to a Sunday Service near you. Be ready!!!

Ministers Column October 2018

Dear Ones:

Our October ministry theme is sanctuary. We’ve been talking a lot about sanctuary as the peace of mind and physical protection we expect to offer to people seeking to avoid deportation—and, of course, we will continue to talk about it that way. But I also think it’s important to explore sanctuary in all its meanings. I’m mindful that we often refer to our main meeting hall at UUS:E as “the sanctuary.” I’m mindful that we sometimes refer to those “joys and sorrows that remain unspoken in the sanctuaries of our hearts.” I’m mindful that for so many members and friends of UUS:E, our meetinghouse and our congregational community offer sanctuary from the stresses of a chaotic nation and world, from the rush and crush of busy lives, from the everyday anxieties we carry with us. A sanctuary is a place of safety and protection, a place of retreat and reflection, a place of beauty and creation.

UUS:E is a sanctuary for all of us.

My colleague, the Rev. Angela Herrera, writes: “All that you need / for a deep and comforting peace to grow / lies within you. / Once it is in your heart / let it spread into your life, / let it pour from your life into the world – / and once it is in the world, / let it shine upon all beings.” These words appear in Rev. Herrera’s 2012 meditation manual, Reaching for the Sun. They speak to me about the value of a sanctuary like UUS:E. Indeed, I think of UUS:E as a place where each of us can peer within and find what we need for a “deep and comforting peace to grow.” (Find that place in you, where you may go, when you yearn for peace.) And I think of UUS:E as a place that encourages us to pour the peace in our hearts out into the world—to “let it shine on all beings.” (That place from which you reach out to others who are suffering.)

How has UUS:E been a sanctuary for you? Has it provided refuge at a time in your life when you were vulnerable? Has it offered direction at a time in your life when you felt aimless? Has it offered solidarity at a time when you needed to not face life alone? In a culture whose values skew toward the material, the technological and the crass, has UUS:E helped you raise your children to value spirituality, human connection and love? I’m not just asking a rhetorical question. I really want to know your answers. Please share with me how you’ve experienced UUS:E as a sanctuary. You can email me at revpawelek@gmail.com or call at 860-652-8961.

And then there is the question many of you have asked: When will UUS:E provide sanctuary to a person seeking to avoid deportation? The truth is, we don’t know. We’ve been “on alert” three times since we voted to become a sanctuary congregation in May. But in each case, the person or family in question was able to resolve their legal issues and remain in the United States. Still, we know from news reports that people are being deported in record numbers. While we actually shouldn’t want to ever have to offer this kind of sanctuary, now that we’ve made it known we are ready, it’s only a matter of time before someone in profound need will accept our offer. I wish we didn’t live in a world where congregations had to make such offers. But since we do live in such a world, I am proud that we are ready.

With love,

—Rev. Josh

Membership Coordinator Job Announcement

September 27, 2018

Unitarian Universalist Society: East, an open and welcoming liberal religious community is seeking a Membership Coordinator. This position fosters the engagement of and provides support to visitors, friends, and members in collaboration with the membership committee. Applicants should have excellent interpersonal skills, and effective written and oral communication skills and time management strategies. This is a 20 hour per week year-round position. The timing of hours varies including most Sundays, planning meetings with the minister and other staff members and evenings, weekends and some religious holidays as needed.

Interested candidates should submit a resume and cover letter, by November 5, 2018, to: Annie Gentile at Unitarian Universalist Society: East, 153 Vernon Street West, Manchester, CT 06040 uuseoffice@uuse.org

The position will be contingent upon the completion of a successful background check.

Minister’s Column July 2018

Dear Ones:

As I prepare for my summer vacation and study leave, there’s a part of me that’s already very excited for the next congregational year. As many of you are aware, January 2019 marks UUS:E’s 50th anniversary. The Policy Board, the Sunday Services Committee, the Endowment Committee, the Memorial Garden Trustees, and many others are beginning to think about how we can turn this anniversary into a meaningful, yearlong celebration. To that end, we need a team of people who can oversee work on the details. Who is interested in being part of the 50th Anniversary Team? It will be fun. Please let me or our President, Rob Stolzman, or our incoming Vice President, Kevin Holian-Borgnis, know if you would like to be part of this effort.

While it is always helpful to review the past, a milestone anniversary year really calls us to pause and look back, to honor our founders, to celebrate the generations. Thus, in the coming year, we will tells stories about what UUS:E was like in the different decades. We will definitely hold a big, multigenerational party. I am sure we will do some special fundraising. However, the most important thing we can reflect on is the nature of the impact UUS:E has had on us and on the larger community. What difference have we made in people’s lives? What would we be like—and what would Manchester and Greater Hartford be like—if that dedicated group of individuals had not come together in the late 1960s to found a Unitarian Universalist congregation east of the Connecticut River?

If we can put words to the difference UUS:E has made in our lives and in the life of the larger community, then perhaps we can also imagine having an even greater impact over the next fifty years!

At the very least, you can expect to be asked, in any number of ways, these kinds of questions: What has been the impact of UUS:E on your life? What do you remember most from the time you first started attending Sunday services at UUS:E, whether at 153 W. Vernon St. or one of the earlier locations? What do you wish for the future of UUS:E?


Now, believe it or not, there is another milestone we may need to celebrate next year. April 2019 is the 20th anniversary of my ordination into the Unitarian Universalist Ministry. Thus, I expect I’ll be doing a significant amount of reflecting on where I’ve been, how I’ve grown, and the impact I believe I have had on UUS:E, on our region, and on Unitarian Universalism. I look forward to this period of historical review.


For now, summer is beginning. Please know I will be traveling with my family and my in-laws to Italy for two weeks in early July. I will continue my vacation and study leave when I return. I will be back at UUS:E to preach on August 5th. Then, as always, I will start slowly returning to regular ministry in mid-August. I wish for you a wonderful summer. I wish for you summer rest and relaxation. I wish for you quality time with family and friends. I wish for you adventures—whatever adventures you need to have. And I cannot wait to hear about them in September!

With love,

–Rev. Josh

Emergency Preparedness #8

Emergency Preparedness #8

Temporary Sheltering of Members

Our newly authorized Emergency Operations Plan defines actions to be taken when a critical situation occurs on the property. This “all hazards plan” identifies twelve situations that could risk personal safety or property damage. Each emergency situation is designated as an annex with specific instructions. Let’s look at Annex F: Temporary Sheltering of Members.


…members without power or fuel are able to stay in the building during business hours for cooling in summer or warming in winter?


The following procedures are to be followed:

  1. It is requested a call be made to the office in advance.
  2. It is understood there are no generators, cots, blankets, food or medical supplies available,
  3. Sheltering is possible only as the building has electricity and water supply available.
  4. The kitchen may be used if personal food is brought in.
  5. Before leaving to go home, the individuals will sign out at the administrative office.

Flights of Fancy” A Mixed Media Imaginings by Jeannette LeSure

Saturday, June 9, from 6:30 to 9:00 PMFlights of Fancy - Jeanette LeSure

An opening reception for the art show “Flights of Fancy: Mixed Media Imaginings” by Jeannette LeSure will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Society: East (UUS:E) on Saturday, June 9th, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.  Jeannette’s watercolor collages are inspired by nature, but filtered through dreams and imagination–a celebration of nature in New England. Her muses? Her sister, Jean Ellen, was an artist and taught her to draw, Eric Carle sparked her decision to collage with her painted papers, and the Impressionists in general spoke to her soul.  Jeannette’s mother, however, is the one who launched her spirit and instilled the conviction that magic and miracles lie under every leaf, in every tree, and just over the hill.

Click here for a printable version.

The event is free and refreshments will be served. UUS:E is located at 153 Vernon Street West, Manchester, CT.


Emergency Preparedness: Fire & Smoke Workshop

What Should You Do in the case of FIRE or SMOKE?

Join the Emergency Preparedness Team on Thursday, June 7 at 1:00 PM in the Meeting Room where the team will welcome members of the Manchester Fire Department to discuss fire and smoke training, emergency medical situations, and six of the twelve annexes in the Emergency Preparedness Plan. There will be time to ask questions and to learn more about our important plan.

Know Your Rights


Thursday, June 14 at 3 PM and 5 PM

A “Know Your Rights” workshop led by Cressy Goodwin will be held at Unitarian Universalist Society: East on Thursday, June 14 at 3:00 PM and again at 5:00 PM.

This workshop explores rights and their limitations for immigrants who may be confronted with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. It is intended for anyone who has an interest in the subject including immigrants, members and friends of UUS:E now that we are officially a Sanctuary Congregation, and any other members of the community who are concerned about immigration i

June Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

Our ministry theme for June is restlessness. I’d like to offer an excerpt from one of my meditations in Hear the Earth Call entitled, “Beyond the Safety of Our Well-worn Paths.” I think it speaks to an inherent restlessness in each of us—a restlessness that often surfaces in summer.

In this summer season / may we journey beyond the safety of our well-worn paths, / beyond our customs and habits, / beyond the comfort of our regular lives.

In this summer season / may we discover new creativity, new fervor, new insight; / may we discover in ourselves the spirit of the child that knows no limits and no boundaries, / the child who, every day, imagines the impossible / and sets off to achieve it.

In this summer season, /may we explore the borders of our lives, / the edges and the unformed spaces, / the wildernesses / the still wild places.

In this summer season, / may we establish new patterns where we have been longing for different ways of being, / new paths to go places our old paths will not take us.

In this summer season / may we discard old customs and habits if they have dulled our senses, / silenced our voice, / hidden our truth, / cooled our passions.

In this summer season / may we challenge ourselves to overcome any unnecessary limits we’ve set for ourselves, / to break through any unnecessary lines we have drawn around ourselves, to transgress any boundaries we’ve set for ourselves.

In this summer season / May we explore the borders or our lives, / where difference is welcome, / where tension and conflict are welcome, / where even a small dose of chaos is welcome, / where, in the midst of all of it, wisdom grows / and creativity thrives.

In this summer season, / may we explore the borders of our lives, / where nothing is quite as fixed as we’d assumed, / where old orthodoxies fail, / where order is tentative, / where simple dualisms just don’t work, / where pointless rigidities are the butt of jokes, / where mixing and merging and morphing take place, / where old selves give way and new selves emerge. / where we are compelled to find common ground with our neighbors, / where we build, however we can, the beloved community, where we remember—because sometimes we forget—that we are related to the whole of life.

In this summer season / May we / journey, / discover, / create, / practice, / discard, / break through. / transgress, / challenge, / explore, / and remember.

Amen and blessed be.

I know there is much to worry about in the world these days. I know there is much that weighs on all our hearts. It is my fondest hope that in this coming summer season, you find time to feed your restlessness—to be the person you feel called to be.

With love,

–Rev. Josh

Emergency Preparedness #7

Emergency Preparedness #7

Storm Damage

Our newly authorized Emergency Operations Plan defines actions to be taken when a critical situation occurs on the property. This “all hazards plan” identifies twelve situations that could risk personal safety or property damage. Each emergency situation is designated as an annex with specific instructions. Let’s now look at Annex E: Storm Damage.


… procedures have been in place for years to learn of impending storms and alert members when the facilities are going to be closed? Do you know where to go to learn this information?


The following procedures are to be followed:

  1. Learn of the cancellation of services or meetings held at the building, and stay away during any storm.
  2. After the storm is over, and if damage is found, contact the sexton if not already aware of this.
  3. Early decisions will be made and announced to repair any damage.
  4. Members will be notified when the building is again available for use.

That was easy! Use the time saved by staying home to review the Emergency Response Plan for other, more complicate actions for different hazards!