Blessings and peace to you, dear congregant and/or spiritual seeker, and welcome to the UU Congregation of Rockville, Maryland. If you’re reading this, then you may be more curious about me and my journey towards ministry, or may just want to know more about what religious community is all about from a minister’s perspective.
I first learned about spiritual communities from my childhood congregation, the River Road UU Congregation of Bethesda, Maryland. My family began attending when I was a small child, in part because we are a multiracial family and my parents felt welcomed there. It was also less than a mile away and I loved being close enough that we often walked to worship and Sunday School. For me, as a child and youth, I felt that I belonged to this community and much of my childhood centered around activities and programs at the congregation. From Stone Soup Sunday, Water and Flower Communion, to creating the Haunted House at Halloween, to the Coming of Age program with Rev. Bill Murray, to the super fun youth group retreats and all church retreats, my congregation was home and a safe haven. To this day, I am still in touch with a few of my Mystery Pals, that I exchanged letters and gifts with as a small child. I knew I was loved and safe - and even encouraged towards leadership, especially when I exploded into my UU identity as a youth.
Fast forward to seminary, I carried the seeds of loving community into my call. I knew I had a heart for service and sacrifice and decided to commission in the military as a chaplain. I loved my time on active duty, where our motto was “Bringing God to Soldiers and Soldiers to God”. While that may not reflect our UU faith for all, for me serving as a chaplain meant conveying love, acceptance and encouragement to everyone, regardless of their race, sexual orientation, gender, education, or background. As a chaplain, I was charged with conveying a sacred presence and calling upon service member’s higher ethos in the midst of their work and lives.
These are enduring bones in my ministerial formation that brought me to accept the call from this beloved and thriving congregation, the UU Congregation of Rockville. What I have experienced here at UUCR continues to inspire me and humble my spirit. Here generosity and care prevail. Thoughtful engagement and an unwavering dedication to our mission, To Practice Courageous Love, and people of all ages striving to live out their UU values in their homes and relationships. Ours is a shared ministry here, where no one person or committee can do all of the work of the congregation. We need each other not only to survive, we need each other to transform the world. To continue to learn and grow, and invite others to do the same. Shared ministry for me means that while this is my profession and I bring a heart of joy to my work, our lay leaders and members embody their faith by making this sacred space possible each and every day by their service. If you are a congregant or are looking for a spiritual community, this place was built for you - and there are ample opportunities for you to nurture your spiritual journey through love and service. And at times, this is also a place of refuge and healing because we all suffer, we all struggle and we need each other in prayer, worship and pastoral care to bind up our wounds in order to go on. We heal in order to transform the world. We bring our faith into the world because our Universalist forebears charged us with Loving the Hell out of the world. This is a place where we set the table to make that possible. Come, be nourished and challenged. Come, let us shine the light of our faith together!