March 2016 Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

Our ministry theme for March is community. It’s no coincidence that we chose this theme for this month. March is also the month in which we kick off our Annual Appeal. It’s the month when we ask each other to make as generous a financial pledge as possible to UUS:E for the coming fiscal year. It’s the month when we ask each other to reflect on the value this spiritual community holds in our lives. What does it mean to us?

What would we lose if it suddenly disappeared? I’d like to share with you some of the things that I’m excited about at UUS:E.

First, I’m excited about the growth of our adult religious education program. Thanks to the hard work of dedicated leaders (our current Adult RE chair is Crystal Ross; before her it was Louisa Graver), we’ve grown our program tremendously. There are many compelling classes every semester related to theology, spiritual practice, the Bible, creativity, world religions, and on and on. I was personally very pleased when nearly 40 people signed up for my class on “Deepening Your Spirituality,” based on the book, A Religion of Ones Own, by Thomas Moore. And the “icing on the cake” is that Thomas Moore has agreed to give a public lecture at UUS:E at the end of the course—Saturday, June 10.

Second, I’m excited about the development of two age-based affinity groups—the Council of Elders (for people 70 and older) and the Young Adult Group (for people between 18 and 35). While our community is ultimately  a multigenerational community, there are always good reasons for people of a similar age to spend time together. Such groups can serve as critical points of connection for people who might otherwise feel isolated, and as such they play a vital role in growing and sustaining our beloved spiritual community. I am looking forward to a number of events for both of these groups over the coming months.

Third, in addition to our regular minister- and lay-led worship services, we’ve had some very inspiring guest preachers this year, including Moral Monday CT leader Bishop John Selders, journalist and writer Susan Campbell, Jewish “entertain-ucator” Felicia Sloin, and UU minister Carolyn Patierno. In the coming months we’ll be enjoying worship with more UU clergy from area congregations, as well as New York City-based violinist, Sharon Gunderson, for Easter and a special Good Friday Tenebrae service.

There’s so much more that excites me: more work with Moral Monday CT and Black Lives Matter; more work on the Governor’s Second Chance Society criminal justice reforms; more great offerings in the children’s religious education program; April’s vegan challenge; mental health ministry programming; April’s Little Big Band concert and “Speak Up” story-telling extravaganza; art shows with artists from UUS:E and from the wider community. So much is happening!

Last but not least, the UUS:E Policy Board is considering how we can finally become a teaching congregation and begin receiving the services of a ministerial intern. This is very exciting. The goal of hiring an intern is in our strategic plan, and it’s time to make it happen. With a successful annual appeal, we can likely achieve this goal for the coming year.

Please take some time to consider what UUS:E is worth to you. And please pledge generously. Thank you!




With love, Rev. Josh