Acculturation Training

Who has culture? We all have culture!!  

Wed., April 24, 7-9 PM, Meeting Room

Truly knowing, understanding, communicating with, or assisting a person from a distant culture or country begins with an examination of our own cultural values, beliefs, assumptions and biases.   It is only through understanding that our own cultural lens is the filter with which we approach most every interaction we have, that we can ever fully, without bias and judgment, respect the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings.  Although this acculturation training was originally designed for the Sanctuary team, I encourage others to attend. Since the US is becoming more and more diverse, and the population of people from European descent is decreasing, we all are likely to have many more cross-cultural conversations. This training is designed to help us become more aware of the multiple ways in which our values, beliefs and assumptions have been forged beyond our awareness, and yet often become the yardstick by which we evaluate others.

25th Anniversary Interview Project

Unitarian Universalist flaming chalice

Listen to audio interviews from members during 1993-1999. How have things changed and how are they the same?

Click here to listen!

And So Our Journey Began – The First Decade

And So Our Journey Began – The First Decade

April 7 Service ~ Postponed from March 10

We will honor our Charter Members and hear stories from the “founding generation” who saw the possibility of a loving and inclusive home for liberal religion in Manchester. How did those early years shape who we are today? What legacy did our founders leave us, and how are we handling that responsibility today? Come to the April 7 service to consider this and much more!

April Milestones ~ This Month in UUS:E History:

April 1969: One month after opening our doors, an organizing meeting for Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) draws more than a dozen teens. Public Forums are scheduled two evenings each month on topics such as inner-city schools, prison reform and more. The Board votes to join Manchester Interfaith Social Action Committee (MISAC), which is completing 194 units of affordable housing in North Manchester.

April 1977: Surveying, clearing and planning begins at the newly-purchased wooded lot on West Vernon St., Manchester. There is also much fundraising that must be done before we can have a home of our own!!

Looking forward to other 50th Anniversary events, including:

  • Rev. Drew Moeller, who discovered his ministerial calling while at UUS:E, returns to preach on June 2
  • All-generations carnival on June 8 (rain date June 15)
  • WUUdstock concert on July 27
  • Celebration Gala on September 28
  • Looking back, looking forward. A legacy service on November 3

Questions? Ideas? Want to volunteer?? Contact Anne Carr:

Show Your  UUS:E Swag!5oth T shirt

Have you seen these great-looking black and gold 50th Anniversary tee shirts? Look for the display after each service or email Anne Carr: $20 for Small-XL, and $25 for XXL and up. Many thanks to Sandy Karosi for design and ordering.

Minister’s Column April 2019

Dear Ones:

I’m preparing my newsletter materials as spring 2019 arrives. It is cold and wet outside, a reminder that early spring can be messy, muddy and raw. I found a meditation I wrote years ago that addresses this point in the new season. It’s called, “May We Rise to Meet the Wet.” (Duffy Schade and I included it in our book, Hear the Earth Call.)

Now come spring drizzles, spring rains, spring thunder and lighting, spring mud and muck, spring dew on morning grass, on spider webs, on bare feet. May we rise to meet the wet. May we not shy away from the mud and the muck. May spring moisten us. May spring’s wet mornings point us, guide us, lead us to that moistness of spirit so many of us long to experience and express. May spring’s wet mornings point us, guide us, lead us to deep feeling, to intuition, to insight, to apprehension of the holy sacred meaning of our lives, to apprehension of the holy sacred person each of us is called to be, to apprehension of our place on this holy sacred planet in this holy sacred universe. And may spring’s wet mornings instill in us a longing to engage in holy sacred actions in the service of peace, justice, love and compassion.

May we rise to meet the wet.

Our ministry theme for April is wholeness. Sometimes when we talk about wholeness in a spiritual context, we talk about achieving a state of peace, tranquility, serenity. Or we might talk about achieving a healthy balance between heart, mind and spirit. Or we might talk about achieving a mixture of fulfilling work, meaningful relationships, moments of rest and relaxation, joy, and the capacity to help others in need or to participate in social and environmental justice struggles. All these are valid ways of talking about wholeness. But I notice we rarely talk about the cold, wet days—the raw times in our lives; the times when we feel caught in the mud and the muck.

We cannot escape the cold, wet days, the raw weather, the mud and muck. Being in it, accepting it, embracing the way it challenges us must be part of our wholeness too. [Now, if you’ve read this far, please know that the 8th person to contact me either by phone or email and correctly state the language of the proposed 8th UU principle will get lunch on me later this spring!] I dare say we need the cold, wet, raw, muddy days. They teach us patience. They teach us endurance. They teach us that life is inherently messy. They teach us to hang on just a little bit longer before the truly beautiful days of spring arrive. Let’s not resist these cold, wet, raw days of early spring. Let’s lean into them instead. I suspect they made lead us to sources of resilience and power within ourselves—a moistness of spirit, as the meditation says. Deep feeling, intuition, insight, apprehension of the holy, sacred meaning of our lives. I say lean into these cold, wet, raw days of early spring. Lean in and learn what they have to offer.

It’s April already! Spring is here. The holy weeks of Easter and Passover arrive soon. Beautiful days are coming. For now, may we rise to meet the wet!

With love,

—Rev. Josh

Minister’s Column March 2019

Dear Ones:

March begins; and so does our UUS:E Annual Appeal. This is an important moment in the life of the congregation every year. Not only do members and friends make their annual financial pledge to the congregation, but each of us also has an opportunity to reflect on the meaning and value of UUS:E in our lives. You will be able to meet with other UUS:E members and friends in peoples’ homes, break bread together, talk about what UUS:E means to you, and make your financial pledge for the coming fiscal year. Those of you who cannot participate in any of the ‘pledging potlucks’ will be able to meet with an Annual Appeal steward in a one-on-one meeting.

As is the case every year, operating costs continue to increase. However, this year the Policy Board has set some ambitious Annual Appeal goals in relation to our staff. You might say “Staffing for Growth” is our overarching goal. First, we have created a new staff position, the Membership Coordinator. After a number of years of discernment, we have identified this position as critical to helping us grow UUS:E in a variety of ways, including overall number of members, depth of connections within the congregation, and growth of participation in congregational programs. In the current year’s budget we have funded the Membership Coordinator for half a year. Now we need to fund it for a full year.

Second, likewise after a number of years of discernment, we have made a commitment to expanding our music program at UUS:E, including a professionally administered concert series and an ongoing music salon. This program expansion will necessarily increase our Music Director’s hours. We are proposing minimally a two-hour increase in the coming year.

Finally, we have realized that we are under-paying our Sexton. For many years, we have used guidelines from the Unitarian Universalist Association based on compensation for a custodian. However, our Sexton is truly a building manager and we need to pay her accordingly. It is a matter of fairness.

Sustaining the Membership Coordinator position, expanding the Music Director position, and providing fair compensation to our Sexton. These are the goals driving the major increases in next year’s budget. We hope you will be excited about these goals. Why? Because they are the signs of a thriving congregation, a growing congregation, a vibrant congregation, a congregation that is here to stay!

The Stewardship Committee’s theme for this year’s Annual Appeal is “Honoring our Past; Building Our Future.” It is the right theme for our 50th anniversary year. What better way to honor our past than to make a significant pledge to help us meet goals that build a bright future for UUS:E! For your generosity, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

With love,

—Rev. Josh

Please Come to a Community Conversation!

Special message from
Unitarian Universalist Society: East President Rob Stolzman

Please Join Us for a Special Policy Board Community Conversation 

Open forum to  discuss:UUSE Logo chalice flame only multi

  • Updating our UUS:E Covenant
  • Open leadership positions
  • The history and use of the colon in our name–UUS:E

Two sessions: 2:00 or 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 14.

The purpose of this event is to invite our members and friends to sit with us and discuss these issues or any other issues. The Policy Board values your voices and wants to hear what you think.
— Rob Stolzman and the Policy Board

50th Anniversary – February 2019 Events and News

Passing the Flame, One Generation to Another

50th anniversary chalice

Roland Chirico, one of the early members of our society, and Gina Lucchetti from the RE program, light a beautiful new chalice during the 50th Anniversary kick-off on January 13. Rev. Josh, RE Director Gina Campellone and charter member Naomi Zima told stories from each decade of our history during the intergenerational service. More than 70 people stayed for a good old fashioned Soup Social, followed by a slide show and program!

Dedicating 50th anniversary chalice

This Month in UUS:E History

In February 1969, the dedicated people who were creating a UU congregation in Manchester began cleaning up their newly-rented property at 466 Main Street. Originally the Church of the Nazarene, it had been a karate school when we took it over. Volunteers patched holes and painted the walls, replaced doors, hung blankets to “define” RE classrooms in the basement and cleaned everything! (This building is now home base for the Manchester Area Conference of Churches.) Meantime, there were Sunday morning “programs” in homes and school rooms, as well as pot luck dinners where people got to know each other, and considered what kind of a fellowship we wanted to be.

50th Anniversary Events This MonthUUSE 50th New Chalice Gold

  • On February 10, Rev. Josh will speak about our denomination’s challenges in responding to racism, in 1969 and today. Postponed from Jan. 20 due to the ice storm.
  • On February 17, Rev. Josh will explore what it means to be a “covenanted” faith – without mandatory dogma, we are joined by our commitment to values and intentions.
  • After the second service on the 17th, Rev. Josh hosts the Valentine’s Day Chocolate Auction.
  • AND the first-decade members continue to share their recollections with our in-house historians: Nancy and Joe Madar and Susan Barlow. Watch for their service in March!

Minister’s Column February 2019

To all UUS:E Members:

Our ministry theme for February is trust. In reflecting on this theme, I realize trust occupies a different location within Unitarian Universalism than it does in other faiths. Ours is a this-worldly, covenantal and relational faith. We gather around a set of behavioral principles—guidelines for how we are going to be together, how we are going to treat each other. We purposefully do not gather around a particular theology or doctrine. What does this mean? It means that we place our primary trust in each other. Our trust is horizontal. It extends from person to person within the congregation and out into the wider community.

In doctrinal faiths, people gather around a theological idea or, more simply, a collective belief. Thus they place their primary trust in God or whatever metaphysical reality lies at the heart of their faith. Their trust is vertical, extending “up” to God. This does not mean that they don’t trust their fellow-parishioners or that they don’t have behavioral covenants—they do. But by definition that kind of horizontal, person-to-person trust is secondary to trust in God.

In doctrinal faiths, the conversation about trust is necessarily grounded in belief. In relational faiths, the conversation about trust is grounded in relationships.

Of course, within any Unitarian Universalist congregation there is a wonderful array of spiritual sensibilities, spiritual orientations, spiritual identities, and spiritual beliefs. In worship an atheist might be sitting next to a naturalistic theist, who might be sitting next to a Christian, who might be sitting next to a completely different kind of Christian, who might be sitting next to a Pagan, who might be sitting next to a completely different kind of Pagan, who might be sitting next to an Agnostic, who might be sitting next to a Buddhist, and so on. Our beliefs clearly do not unite us. But our UU principles and our UUS:E covenant call us into relationships with our fellow congregants, with people in general, with non-human creatures and, ultimately, with the planet. And not just any relationships. No, we are called into relationships that have dignity, justice, compassion, a sense of interconnection, and love at their core. As Unitarian Universalists, we agree that such relationships here and now, in this life, in this world, matter immensely. That’s what unites us!

In order to cultivate such relationships, we must trust each other. We must trust that each of us enters into congregational life (however we do so) with a desire to treat each other with dignity, justice, compassion and love. The more I think about this, the more I realize how truly precious it is to be part of a relational faith. Especially in this era of bitterness, conflict, polarization and fear—when trust is so, so, so difficult—it is precious beyond measure to have a relational faith. Sustaining such a faith is hard work. But in my view, it is righteous work! And it’s the work we’ve all signed up for. I hope that gets an “Amen!”

With love,

—Rev. Josh

Golden Anniversary Kick-Off

We’re Kicking Off Our Golden Anniversary
on January 13, 2019!

Save the date … You’ll want to be there when we:

  • Dedicate a new chalice for the next half-century
  • Time-travel through our past in stories and music
  • View an inspirational slideshow
  • Savor brunch food (after 1st service)
  • Celebrate the return of the Soup Social (after 2nd service) followed by a brief, multi-gen program!

This Month in UUS:E History:

On January 16, 1969, 49 determined UU’s signed the incorporation papers to create the Unitarian Universalist Society East, a progressive and welcoming spiritual home east of the Connecticut River. These legal steps followed just four months after the initial meeting at Buckley Elementary School, held to gauge local interest in establishing a UU church in Manchester. Malcolm Barlow recalls that 78 people signed their names on the clipboard that first evening, and a committee was formed to pursue this goal. Talk with Malcolm or Susan Barlow, Naomi Zima, Roland Chirico, Mary Ann Handley, or Dave Sherman to hear more about those first few exciting months!

Other 50th Anniversary events this month:

  • January 20 Rev. Josh will preach about the Unitarian Universalist Association’s challenges in responding to racism, in 1969 and today (see Sunday Services Schedule).
  • On January 26 be part of the “50 Donors Challenge” at the UUS:E Auction & Chili Cook-off.

Questions? Want to help plan these and other exciting events, including a carnival, a gala and many more? Please contact Anne Carr at

A Brief History of Unitarian Universalist Society:East

In 1968, the Unitarian Universalist Connecticut Valley District sent out a call to all those in the Manchester area interested in forming a new UU congregation – a liberally oriented religious faith. There were articles in local media inviting people to participate. Months of study and organizational meetings followed, and on January 19, 1969, forty-nine persons signed as charter members and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Manchester was born. In 1973, the name of the fellowship was changed to Unitarian Universalist Society: East, to reflect the location of members’ homes in several eastern Connecticut towns besides Manchester, including East Hartford, Glastonbury, South Windsor, Tolland, and Vernon.

During its first years, the Society held services in rented properties with a part-time minister. The Rev. Arnold Westwood was called as full-time minister in October 1970.

First Sunday Service on Main Street

President Bud Godreau and the Rev. Arnold Westwood

Membership grew, and in March 1977, the congregation bought a four-acre parcel on West Vernon Street. Building began the following year, and UUS:E moved to its new home in September 1979. Membership continued to grow, and, after much study, a schedule of two Sunday services began. In ten years, the congregation expanded again, with a large two-story addition to the north.

The Rev. Connie Sternberg began her ministry at UUS:E in 1989. She inaugurated several popular programs such as Build Your Own Theology and Introduction to UUism. During Connie’s ministry, the congregation affirmed that they liked an even split of responsibilities between the minister and members of the congregation. This concept of “shared ministry” and “lay-led services” continues today.

The Pastoral Friends group formed in 1996 to help the minister provide care and support to Society members in special need.

In April 1999, the congregation voted to become a “Welcoming Congregation,” formally affirming through a UUA program a long-standing commitment to acceptance of gays and lesbians. UUS:E began working regionally on combating racism, joining with other area churches, including the other two UU churches in the Hartford area. Connie Sternberg retired in 2001 and was voted Minister Emerita. The Rev. Joshua Pawelek joined us in August 2003 as our settled minister.

Five years later, the congregation again needed more space, and undertook a large study and congregational survey on the topic of growth, after which a capital campaign began to create the lovely building and grounds we enjoy today.

In 2011, the congregation has 288 members, and a paid staff of one full-time and five part-time people. The Religious Education program is strong and well-received by parents and children. Sunday services are well attended, and the congregation especially enjoys the music program. The society maintains its traditional warmth and caring and takes pride in its commitment to liberal religious ideals and social justice, working with other local congregations on issues such as anti-racism, universal healthcare and gender equity.

Trumpeters bring music to the congregation

Music provided by trumpeters during a Sunday service