Happy Greetings from the CER Staff

From all of us at the Central East Region, we wish you Happy Holidays and a joyous New Year.

Please remember that the UUA offices are closed from 2 pm December 23 through January 2nd to allow our staff time to spend with their families during the holidays. We’ll be back January 3rd.

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In Gratitude

With Thanksgiving past and the holiday season approaching, this marks the beginning of the season of thankfulness and gratitude. And so we want to take this opportunity to say Thank You.

thank you wordle

Thank you to the congregations who pay their fair share to their district and/or APF and those who stretch to pay as much as they can. Your funds make our work possible and allow us to provide resources, trainings and support to all our congregations in the region.

Thank you to all our Chalice Lighters who make a commitment to help those beyond their own congregation with growth and outreach projects, or to recover from devastating situations. Your generosity has an impact on the lives of our congregations and members that you cannot imagine.

Finally, we could not do it without our volunteers. Those who volunteer in our congregations to make them representatives of our values in your communities. The members of the district boards, our team and committee chairs and members, those who plan events, congregational volunteers who help us with on the ground planning and logistics for events and more. And our regional transitions team whose tireless work has made the move to regionalization possible. We would not be able to do anything without our volunteers. To you we say Thank You over and over again.

So to all of you who make these many things possible, we say Thank You.
Your Regional Staff

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere, Sue Tabone, Cristina Sanchis, Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, Rev. David Pyle, Andrea Lerner, Rev. Hope Johnson, Patricia Infante, Rev. Megan Foley, Jillian Conway, Beth Casebolt, Evin Carvill-Ziemer, and Shannon Harper

Giving Tuesday is November 29th – and the UUA will have a special matching campaign going on. Please check out uua.org tomorrow for details.

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After the Election, From Your Staff

Dear Congregations and Clergy of the Central East Region,

CER VerticalLast night’s election results are in, and we know that we are not alone in experiencing a wide range of emotions.  We know that many of you are rising to this new day with more questions than answers.  We do not yet know what this means for ourselves, for our congregations, for those we love, or for the vision of Beloved Community that our faith calls us to.

As you move into caring for yourself and each other, we wanted you to know that we of the Central East Regional staff awoke November 9th resolved to continue to follow the call to love, to fight bigotry and hatred wherever we find it, and to reach out to our fellow human siblings to seek connection and understanding even when that work is hard to do.

None of us can do this work alone, and we Regional staff are here to help you connect with others who make you strong.  We are here to provide you with the resources you need to do the holy work of loving other human beings, not because it is easy, but because it is the only path to justice and to peace.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to your Primary Contact for support, for resources, to help coordinate your great idea, or for a listening ear as you work out how your congregation will respond. We are here to support your efforts to change the world, and we all have a lot of work ahead of us. We are in this together.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Rev. Megan Foley, Regional Lead
Beth Casebolt
Rev. Evin Carvill-Ziemer
Jillian Conway
Shannon Harper
Pat Infante
Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson
Andrea Lerner
Rev. David Pyle
Rev. Renee Ruchotzke
Cristina Sanchis
Sue Tabone
Rev. Joan Van Becelaere

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UU Congregation of Buffalo Celebrates Ministerial Installation

Charge to the Minister Joan Montagnes and Karen Matteson on the right photo by Sam Trumbore
Charge to the Minister Joan Montagnes and Karen Matteson on the right photo by Sam Trumbore

Congratulations to the UU Congregation of Buffalo, who installed the Rev. Joan Montagnes on Sunday, November 15, 2015!

The Service was the culmination of a four-year search for a minister who now serves the congregation that has been part of the greater Buffalo community since 1831. Rev. Montagnes is the congregation’s first female settled minister in 184 years. She was unanimously approved by the congregation in June.

Rev. Montagnes, a native of Toronto, has been a Unitarian Universalist minister for 22 years. She has served congregations in Edmonton, Alberta; Beaconsfield, Quebec; Toronto; Wenatchee, Wash.; Moscow, Idaho; and as associate minister at East Shore Unitarian Church, Bellevue, Wash. She was Consultant with the Unitarian Universalist Association for the Western Region in Redmond, Wash., before accepting the position in Buffalo. Her divinity degree is from the Meadville Lombard Theological School of Chicago (1994). She also has a Master of Science degree from the University of Alberta in Edmonton (1990).

The ceremony included opening remarks from Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Unitarian Universalist Association members, including those from UUA President Rev. Peter Morales, Rev. Lori Staubitz and Rev. Renee Ruchotzke. It was covered by the local news.

More than three dozen area clergy members from all faiths participated in a ceremonial procession that was part of the Installation Service.

Sarah Lammert Sermon - Photo by Sam Trumbore
Sarah Lammert Sermon – Photo by Sam Trumbore

Rev. Sarah Lammert, the Unitarian Universalist Association Director of Ministries and Faith Development, delivered the Sermon, Hunger and Passion Call Us on Our Way.

The current church, designed by noted architect Edward Austin Kent, and built in 1906, was listed this year on the State Register of Historic Places and on the National Registry of Historic Places. It has gained iconic status in the Elmwood Village because of its old-style English perennial gardens and its American-Gothic architecture. Its Sanctuary has been called “one of the best Arts and Crafts spaces in Buffalo.”

The church has been a community-centered Elmwood-Village institution for decades. Kurt Vonnegut’s “Requiem” had its musical debut at UUCB and was performed by the UUCB Choir. The church also gained historical notoriety when it became a physical and symbolic sanctuary to many pacifists during the Vietnam War.

President Millard Fillmore was a member of the congregation during his life in Buffalo and the congregation welcome Abraham Lincoln as a guest of Fillmore during Lincoln’s procession route before his first inauguration as U.S. President in 1861.

UUCB has formally established itself as a “Welcoming Community” and was one of the first Buffalo churches to marry same-sex couples after the New York State Legislature’s approval of the 2011 Marriage-Equality Act.

The church continues its active social-justice base and community activism by sharing its Sunday collections with a wide variety of Buffalo service institutions and by opening its doors to a diverse range of speakers, meetings, and concert venues. In addition, as part of The Family Promise program, the church offers refuge to many homeless families throughout the year.

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Welcome to New Staff

welcomeEvery year at this time of the year we have new staff starting in many of our congregations – new settled ministers, interim ministers, new religious educators, music directors and administrators. The staff of the Central East Region would like to welcome all our new folks to our region and let you know that we are here to help. Need assistance? Please contact your primary contact. You can find out who that is here.

This year has been a particularly busy year in our region and we have a lot of new faces to welcome. To celebrate all these new folks we’ve listed what we can below. We know this list is incomplete, because we don’t always hear about new folks until they’ve been around for a while. If you have a new staff person to celebrate, please list them in the comments below.

New Ministers we are welcoming include:

  • Rev. Paula Maiorano – UU Society of Southern Delaware
  • Rev. Evan Keely – Paint Branch UU Church, Adelphia, MD
  • Rev. Michelle Collins – Cedar Lane UU Church, Bethesda, MD
  • Rev. Christian Schmidt and Rev. Kristin Schmidt – UU Church in Cherry Hill, NJ
  • REv. Christian Scmidt – UUs of the Chester River, Chester Town, MD
  • Rev. Justin Osterman – UU Congregation at Montclair, NJ
  • Rev. Tony Johnson – Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, NJ
  • Rev. Jane Thickstun – First Unitarian Society of Ithaca, NY
  • Rev. Jennifer Brooks – First UU Church of Columbus, OH
  • Rev. Pam Allen-Thompson – UU Congregation of Erie and UU Church, Meadville, PA
  • Rev. Michael Walker – Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, PA
  • Rev. Gabi Parks – UU Fellowship of Centre County, State College, PA
  • Rev. Madelyn Campbell – UU Church of the Shenandoah Valley, Stephens City, VA
  • Rev. Joan Montagnes – UU Church of Buffalo, NY
  • Rev. David Miller – UU Congregation fo Fairfax, VA
  • Rev. Amy Williams Clark – Cedarhurst UUs, Finksburg, MD
  • Rev. Lynn Cox – UU Congregation of York, PA
  • Rev. Dr. Neal Joans – Mainline UU Church, Devon, PA
  • Rev. Roberta Finkelstein – First Unitarian Church of Wilmington, DE
  • Rev. Dr. Susan Moore – All Souls UU Church, Washington, DC
  • William Humpfrey – All Souls UU Church, Bellville, OH
  • Rev. Michelle Buhite – UU Church of Amherst, NY

New Directors of Religious Education we know of are:

  • Darrel Dyke – Pullman Memorial Universalist Church, NY
  • Carol Zimmerman – UU Church of Canton, NY
  • Julie Rigano – UU Society of Schenectady, NY
  • Chelsea Churpak – UU Fellowship of Wooster, OH
  • Karen LoBracco – UU Church of Kent, OH
  • Steven Mead – First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, PA

Please let us know how we can assist you and your congregation!

The Central East Staff
Andrea Lerner, Patricia Infante, Rev. David Pyle, Rev. Hope Johnson, Rev. Megan Foley, Raziq Brown, Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, Evin Carvill-Ziemer, Rev. Joan Van Becelaere, Sue Tabone, Cristina Sanchis, Jillian Conway and Beth Casebolt

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CERG Hires New Staff

Rev. Scott Tayler and Rev. Joan VanBecelaere are very please to announce the addition of three new staff to the Central East Region Congregational Life Team as well as several other additions to other regions. Raziq Brown, Rev. Megan Foley and Rev. Hope Johnson will join the team this fall.

 Raziq-Brown-150x150Raziq Brown will assume the role of Youth and Young Adult Coordinator. He comes to us from Ft. Worth, Texas and brings specialties in and a passion for young adult outreach, emerging groups/congregations and youth ministry. He has served on the General Assembly Planning Committee’s Right Relationship Team and the Smart Church Consultant team for the Southern Region. He is also an experienced film and video producer, writer, and widely-respected UU spiritual activist. Raziq will join the staff on September 1.
Megan FoleyMegan Foley will serve as Congregational Life Consultant. She brings specialties in congregational systems, seminarian In-Care, small congregational life, collaborative ministry and multiculturalism. Previously, she served as the parish minister of the Sugarloaf UU Congregation ofGermantown, Maryland. She also served as the In Care Program Coordinator for the Joseph Priestley District and on the Regional Sub-Committee on Candidacy. Megan will join the staff on August 17.
Hope JohnsonHope Johnson will serve as Congregational Life Consultant, while also continuing to stay rooted in congregational service as the Parish Minister of the UU Congregation of Central Nassau, NY. She brings specialties in conflict resolution and multicultural congregational development. Previously, she served as Minister of Spiritual Life at the First Unitarian Church of Brooklyn, New York and Director of Religious Education at the First Unitarian of Brooklyn, New York. She also brings a wealth of experience from her years of wider UUA leadership, including the UUA Appointments Committee, the UUA Nominating Committee, the UUMA Continental Good Offices team, and a variety of UU College of Social Justice leadership position, just to name a few. Her Start date is September 15.

In addition the administrators who have been a part of the region as District employees will become UUA employees as of July 1. These include Cristina Sanchis, Jillian Conway, Beth Casebolt and Susan Tabone from the Central East Region Team.

Andrew Mertz, Youth and Young Adult Coordinator for the Joseph Priestley District will be moving to a new position as Program Assistant for the UU Ministers Association. Mark Bernstein is also moving to a new position in July.

Other staff have also been hired by the UUA as part of other Regional Teams.

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Mourning Rev. Chris Neilson

Rev. Chris NeilsonIt is with great sadness we tell you that on July 9th the Rev. Chris Neilson lost her battle with leukemia. She was well known in both the OMD and the SLD.

Updated information:

  • The service at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester will be Sunday, July 26 at 3 pm. The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle ran this obituary with information.
  • The service at the West Shore UU Church will be held on Sunday, August 23, 2015 at 4 pm. The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran this obituary with the same information.

In the OMD Rev. Neilson served as minister of the Southwest UU Church. She also served as chair of the Commissioned Lay Leader Committee and president the UUMA chapter.

In the SLD she was the Congregational Life Consultant serving that district as well as stewardship consultant for the Central East Region.

She will be deeply missed by all the CER staff and leadership.

Her spouse wrote the following on facebook after her death:

Dear ones, Christina M. Neilson, Chris Neilson, died peacefully yesterday at 3:10 pm with no pain and the dignity she wanted. She was surrounded by myself, friends and two of the BMT staff at Wilmot Cancer Center on the 6th floor. We had grown to love the staff there as family and they us. It was our second home and our wish was that she could die there instead of another unit (ICU and others). She had been unable to respond to all the cards you sent over the past year and had been looking forward to acknowledging to each of you how much they meant to her. I took them in every day for her to read or listen to and kept them here at home. I thank you also. They meant a lot to her. She cared for you all, loved you, loved her work, and was passionate about Unitarian Universalism. There will be 3 memorial services, one in Rochester for friends, colleagues and members of churches in the St Lawrence district whom she served, one in OH, for her congregation in North Royalton and friends and colleagues in that area, and the final one in MN for her family. I will keep you posted when they are to happen. In lieu of flowers please consider donations to the Wilmot Cancer Institute at Strong Memorial Hospital. Please no flowers. Thank you all for your kindness.

We extend our sympathies and prayers to all those who are missing Chris today.

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere, Sue Tabone, Rev. Renee Ruchotkze, Evin Carvill-Ziemer and Beth Casebolt

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