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 acarr06040@yahoo.com

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

Did You Know?

William Carlos Williams, the famous poet, was a lifelong member of the Unitarian Church of Rutherford,
New Jersey, a community founded with the help of his parents. His money-making career, however, was
as a pediatric physician. He was close friends with fellow poet Ezra Pound and in his later years, a mentor to
beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

Did you know?

UU social justice activist, writer and poet, Lydia Maria Child, wrote the famous song, A Boy’s Thanksgiving
Day which begins with “Over the river and through the wood, to grandfather’s house we go….” This
song originally appeared as a poem in 1844 in Child’s book, Flowers for Children.

Did you know?

Hans Deutsch, an Austrian artist, first brought together the chalice and the flame as a Unitarian symbol dur­ing his work with the Unitarian Service Committee during World War II. To Deutsch, the image had conno­tations of sacrifice and love. To learn more about the history of our Unitarian Universalist symbol, “The Flaming Chalice.”

Did you know?

Unitarian Universalist history and where we’ve come from as a religious community.

Did You Know: In the 1970s, Unitarian Universalists published the Pentagon Papers! The Unitarian Universalist Association and Beacon Press drew the wrath of President Richard Nixon and the scrutiny of the FBI 30 years ago when the UUA’s Beacon Press published the complete text of the Pentagon Papers in October 1971. The Pentagon Papers, officially titled United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945– 1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense, is a United States Department of Defense history of the United States’ political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967.