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Minister's Column for March

Rev. Josh Pawelek


I am a theistic Unitarian Universalist;  an aspiring antiracist, feminist, queer ally; a liberal, suburban American minister practicing a modern version of New England’s old “congregational way;”  a loving husband and father; and a spiritual leader dedicated to transformative preaching, teaching, healing and social justice ministries. Serving as the parish minister of UUSE has blessed my life in many ways. Most importantly, UUSE has allowed me—and continues to allow me—to serve as a spiritual leader striving to provide excellence in ministry. I am deeply grateful.

Dear Ones:

Our Annual Appeal launches on Sunday, March 3. That’s going to be a fun morning. The UU folk-rock group Meeting House will be joining us in worship. The children will be joining the adults for the beginning of our service to talk about “what things cost” at UUSE. And I’ll be preaching on why we support UUSE with our generous financial contributions. As the cringe-worthy joke goes, it’s the “sermon on the amount” (as opposed to the “Sermon on the Mount.”) (Cue rim shot!)

For those of you who are new to UUSE, the Annual Appeal is the most significant fundraiser in the life of our congregation. It’s the time in the course of the congregational year when each of us is invited to make our financial pledge for the coming fiscal year. But it’s much more than that. It also provides an important opportunity to reflect on the value UUSE holds in your life. What does it mean to you to be part of a liberal spiritual community at this moment in history? What does it mean to you to be part of an institution that explores your principles and values every Sunday, that offers a pluralistic religious education for your children, that cares for you in times of crisis, that provides regular opportunities to be together in multi-generational, beloved community, and that advocates in the wider world for social and environmental justice? I urge you to seek answers to these questions over the coming month.

I also urge you to sign up for one of the Annual Appeal potluck meals. (Sign-up sheets will be available following Sunday services and online.) And as always, if a steward contacts you to meet about your pledge, please respond to them as soon as possible. They are volunteers and we deeply appreciate their work on behalf of our congregation’s financial health.

As in every new year, there are many factors that drive increases in our proposed budget—changes in insurance, cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for our staff, and expansion of our programs, to name just a few. This year the drivers include 1) providing a COLA for our staff; 2) adding the cost of our new bookkeeper so that our finance volunteers carry a more reasonable workload; 3) continuing to increase our building reserves so that we are prepared for future building needs; 4) funding the budget for our youth affirmation class; and 5) maintaining our commitments to community outreach. We are also making some strategic cuts in order to insure that we present a balanced budget to the congregation at our annual meeting in May.

We face cost increases every year. So often they are just the normal, regular, typical, obvious cost increases that any small nonprofit with its own building would face. But behind these costs is a precious community with a powerful mission. That mission includes the free and responsible search for truth and meaning, the right of conscience, a commitment to justice and equity, a commitment to Earth stewardship, and a wide, loving welcome. In a world that, all too often, feels at odds with such a mission, it is critical that we make the most generous financial pledge we can.

Thank you for being part of the UUSE community.

Thank you for your commitment to the flourishing of Unitarian Universalism and liberal religion in the hills east of the CT River.

Thank you for your generosity.



With love,


Rev. Josh





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