Minister’s Column September 2019

Dear Ones:

September arrives and our congregational life kicks into high gear. We return (on September 8) to two Sunday services at 9:00 and 11:00 AM. Children’s religious education classes begin later in September, and our program year commences. And that’s just the beginning. Here’s a brief list of some of the major activities we’re anticipating in the coming year:

  • We continue to celebrate UUS:E’s 50th anniversary year. Please mark your calendars now for our Friday, October 4 gala at Georgina’s.
  • We are launching a new partnership with the Verplanck Elementary School in Manchester. Watch for announcements in this newsletter and elsewhere.
  • Our work continues with the Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance (GHIAA). Watch for announcements about GHIAA’s Monday, October 28 Public Meeting in Hartford. We are hoping to bring between 85 and 100 UUS:E members and friends to this event.
  • Our Sanctuary Team now switches its focus to preparing Rocky for life beyond UUS:E now that a federal immigration judge has granted him asylum.
  • We look forward to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly which will take place in Providence, RI in June—we hope for a large contingent from UUS:E to attend.

I hope you can plug into some of these activities in some way. And, as always, if there’s something missing from congregational life that you’d like to see, please don’t hesitate to speak with me.


Our ministry theme for September is expectation. There are many ways to talk about our expectations for our spiritual lives and for our congregation. In reflecting on my own expectations, I notice a tendency to think and speak in terms of an ideal future state. For example, I hold an expectation that, in time, and with much continuing education, I will have learned enough about ministry to arrive at some still-too-abstract level of excellence in ministry. I hold an expectation that, in time, we will achieve our congregational vision. I hold an expectation that, in time, we will become the “beloved community.” I hold an expectation that, in time, we will have contributed to the emergence of a more just and loving society, state, nation, world, etc. My point is that the theme of expectation often leads us to contemplate a future state. What do we expect will be the fruit of our present efforts?

Having said that, I’ve been recognizing during this past summer—perhaps more than ever—that focusing on the future state, though important, can sometimes distract us from the very hard work of the here and now. What is that hard work? Here are a few ideas: 1) doing everything in our power to be as inclusive as possible in our decision-making and programming; 2) centering the voices of those on the margins of congregational life; 3) making sure that when someone says “ouch,” we pause to listen and understand the hurt; 4) making sure that, when we’ve hurt someone, even if our intentions were good, we apologize. That’s a preliminary list. I’ll be focusing on this tension between the future state and the present moment in my preaching in September. I have, as always, great expectations!

I’m looking forward to seeing you soon!

With love,

—Rev. Josh