Perry Montrose

The DRE Search Committee and the Board of Trustees of CUC are happy to announce the appointment of Perry Montrose as our new Director of Lifespan Religious Education and Faith Development. (We'll say "DRE" for short, since even the acroynym, DLREFD, is admittedly unwieldy.)

Perry has been the DRE in Newton, MA for the last two years (2012-2014), and before that was DRE in Wesport, CT (2007-2012), and before that in New London, CT (2003-2007). Here's the UUA data on the current size of those congregations:
  • Newton, MA: Certified Members as of 2013.11.21: 404. Church School Enrollment: 180.
  • Westport, CT: Certified Members as of 2014.02.03: 493. Church School Enrollment: 208.
  • New London, CT: Certified Members as of 2013.12.23: 220. Church School Enrollment: 85.
Perry is deeply devoted to his family: parents and three siblings. His parents live in Western Connecticut, as does one sibling. The other two siblings live in Manhattan. CUC is ideal for centrally locating him within his vital family connections.

He's also attracted to CUC because of how evidently caring our community is. While at Westport, he was part of the Metro NY district, so had a chance to hear about CUC. From what he's heard and seen directly -- including his conversations with our search committees both two years ago and this year -- he's delighted at the chance to serve such "a really nice group of people." He relishes the chance to join in the new energy at CUC, following our church's transition period, and facilitate the growing vibrancy of which our program, through many years, has established itself as ready to support.

He's attracted to the work environment our beautiful building and grounds offer (which will be all the more delightful when the roof and ceiling work is done!)

Perry sees CUC as poised for meaningful social justice engagement and he's excited about the chance to be a part of developing a new social justice presence in our community and in our hearts.

The search committee was especially impressed with Perry's track record of creating structures that make RE participation attractive and inviting for parents and nonparents alike, his theological depth, pastoral presence, and administrative attention to detail.

Perry's references raved about his work in his current and previous congregations.

For a PDF document with Perry's resume, statement of religious education philosophy, articles, and a sermon, CLICK HERE.


Journey Groups: How They Work

Journey groups are our "friends on the path" -- 5 to 12 people with whom we share the journey, the pilgrimage of our lives.

of how Journey Groups work

1. Scheduling. Journey Groups meet once a month -- some of them in a member's home and others at CUC. Some Journey Groups may have the same host for every meeting for a year. Others may rotate the hosting. Journey Groups will be scheduled to meet during the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th week of each month.

2. Facilitator. Each Journey Group has a facilitator. Facilitators agree to facilitate for one year (10 meetings) at a time. Ideally, most Facilitators enjoy and are enriched by facilitating, and want to stay at it for many years. Some Facilitators will prefer an "every other year" pattern. Others may may take off every 3rd or, say, every 10th year.

3. Facilitators Meeting. Facilitators have two meetings each month:
(a) a "Facilitators Meeting" at which they meet with all the facilitators and the minister, and
(b) their Journey Group.
The Facilitators Meeting occurs during the first week of each month. At the Facilitators Meeting with the minister, the Facilitators receive ongoing training and practice exploring the theme of the month in preparation for their respective Journey Group later that month.

4. The Monthly Packet. Each month, a Monthly Packet is produced. The minister assembles the packet with the collaboration and suggestions of the Facilitators. The Monthly Packet includes:
  (a) A column by the minister, giving an overview or "starter" reflection on the theme of the month.
  (b) A spiritual exercise to do relating to the theme of the month.
  (c) A list of "Questions To Live With." The list will include about 8-12 questions, and these instructions: "Don't treat these questions like 'homework.' You do not need to engage every single one. Instead, simply look them over and find the one that 'hooks' you most. Then let it take you on a ride. Live with it for a while. Allow it to regularly break into -- and break open -- your ordinary thoughts. And then come to your Journey Group meeting prepared to share that journey with your group."
  (d) "Recommended Resources." A collection of quotes, reflections, poems, etc. on the theme of the month, with these instructions: "This is not 'required reading.' We will not analyze or dissect these pieces in our Journey Groups. They are simply meant to get your thinking started -- and maybe to open you to new ways of thinking." The Recommended Resources will also list: online videos and podcasts, books, movies, and links to articles that pertain to the theme of the month. Some members may wish to explore some of these, but there are no "assignments."

5. Dissemination. The monthly packet is disseminated the same way the Communitarian is. It is posted on line and a link is emailed to the congregation -- in the same emailing that includes the link to the Communitarian.

6. Preaching. Generally the first Sunday or two of each month, the sermon will address the theme of the month. This further aids reflection on the theme in advance of the Journey Group meeting.

7. The Meeting Format. At the Journey Group meeting, you may expect:
  1. Chalice Lighting. Facilitator lights a chalice and reads centering words. 
  2. Check-in. Go around the circle for about 2 minutes of check-in from each person on "How have things been going in your life over the last month?" Others listen without comment.
  3. The month's Spiritual Exercise. Go around the circle and share experience or reflection on the spiritual exercise of the month (as described in the Monthly Packet). Others listen without comment.
  4. Free-form sharings and comment on issues raised.
  5. Questions to Live With. Facilitator reads aloud the "Questions to Live With." Then go around the circle and each participant shares which questions most "hooks" them, and why. Others listen without comment.
  6. Free-form sharing and comment on issues raised.
  7. Check-out. One more time around, with each participant invited to offer a closing thought.
  8. Closing. Facilitator extinguishes the chalice and reads closing words.
The Facilitator guides the process of deep listening as group members share not just thoughts, but experiences and the emotions that made them meaningful.

Signing Up

During each summer, the list of the Journey Groups will be posted for the upcoming church year (first meeting in September). The list will announce the monthly day and time of the meeting and will indicate the neighborhood it will meet in, but won't name the facilitator (since finding a day and time that works for you is the main concern.) After the initial summer sign-ups, new members, or any member who missed the summer sign-up period, may join a Journey Group "already in progress" -- as long as that group isn't full.

On-line sign-up: CLICK HERE.


Wed Apr 16: Around the UU World

Brown Bag Lunch
Wed Apr 16 -- noon (and third Wed of every month)
Fireside Area of Sanctuary

We'll discuss an article from the 2014 spring issue, "War Zone Sabbatical."

To read the article online, CLICK HERE.

"A minister visits Afghanistan and Iraq to learn about hope and resiliency in traumatized societies.

Discussion Points

1. After reading this article, what do you know or understand about Afghanistan that you didn't know or understand before?

2. After reading this article, what do you know or understand about Iraq that you didn't know or understand before?

3. Would you want to visit Iraq? Afghanistan?

4. Rev. Kutzmark concludes:
"Empires come and go. Wars are fought and peace is sought. People live and die. But something endures. Amidst that antiquity, there is something greater than the complications of this moment in time. There is something larger that can't be seen. Call it the wisdom of the ages. Call it the sweep of history. Call it the promise of the future. Call it life renewing itself. I call that hope."
What would you call it? That is, what is this "something larger that can't be seen"? How would you describe it? Is it necessary to go to ancient lands far away to perceive it? What is the benefit of traveling to far away lands?


Community Ministers

About Community Ministry

The traditions of Unitarian and Universalist ministry have included centuries of prophetic ministerial service beyond the walls of congregations. In 1991, Community Ministry was formally recognized as a specialization within Unitarian Universalist ministerial fellowship.

Community Ministers serve needs and serve Unitarian Universalism in many ways: as chaplains in hospitals, prisons, or the military; as counselors with a spiritual or pastoral orientation; as leaders of community service nonprofit organizations; as spiritual directors or teachers; as social justice activists; or other forms of Ministry outside a congregational setting. Informed by the Unitarian Universalist tradition and theology, UU Community Ministers serve peace, justice, compassionate relations, and spiritual growth and depth.

Unitarian Universalism informs, grounds, and constitutes the primary religious identification for many spiritual leaders who are providing healing and transformative service in our world. CUC celebrates these ministries as vital parts of the liberal religious movement to which CUC is dedicated.

Community Ministers are encouraged to affiliate with a congregation to nurture their spiritual maturity and keep them grounded in Unitarian Universalism. At CUC, affiliation with a Community Minister is an unpaid arrangement.

Affiliation with a congregation provides the Community Minister with:
  • ongoing grounding in Unitarian Universalist faith and an ongoing home for worship, practicing Unitarian Universalism, and deepening in liberal religious spirituality -- within a context of recognition of a ministerial calling and identity. 
Affiliation with a Community Minister provides the congregation with:
  • a sense of expanded ministry. The Community Minister's ministry out in the world becomes, through affiliation, in some small way the congregation's ministry. Insofar as CUC gives moral support and spiritual nurturance to the minister who carries it out, the community ministry is part of CUC's ministry. 
  • Community Ministers typically also offer their affiliated congregation such services as leading adult or children's RE, offering workshops, maybe preaching a sermon once a year.

CUC's Community Ministers

Rev Deb Morra

The Rev. Deb Morra has been, since 2002, affiliated with our congregation as an ordained minister whose calling is to work in the wider world rather than in the parish. She makes her living as a therapist and social worker, and CUC provides her the context in which she can view that work as ministry. She preaches occasionally and provides other leadership.

Rev LoraKim Joyner

Rev. LoraKim Joyner, DVM, is a veterinarian specializing in wildlife avian medicine. Since 2001, she has also been a Unitarian Universalist minister (MDiv, Vanderbilt University, 2000). She served as a parish minister for 10 years -- most of them as co-minister with spouse, Rev. Meredith Garmon -- before switching to Community Ministry. Her ministry encompasses two areas: multispecies ministry (deepening understanding and appreciation between human and nonhuman species) and nonviolent communication (she's a certified NVC trainer).

Rev. Joyner entered into affiliation with CUC in 2014. See more about Rev. Joyner at her website: ONEEARTHCONSERVATION.ORG

Formerly Affiliated with CUUC: Rev Kelly Murphy Mason

The Rev. Dr. Kelly Murphy Mason is a Community Minister who now works for the Psychotherapy & Spirituality Institute, where she serves as Director of Programming and also as a clinical supervisor and a pastoral psychotherapist. She seeks to provide clients with emotionally literate, psychologically sound, and spiritually informed psychotherapy. Additionally, she teaches graduate students in psychology at Columbia Teachers College. Kelly was ordained by the Community Church of NY, Unitarian Universalist, in 2006, and since then, has held a number of different posts and leadership positions throughout this region – at Union Theological Seminary, the Blanton-Peale Institute, the Association for Spirituality & Psychotherapy, the Murray Grove Association, and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. For the past few years, she has acted as the coordinator of the Metro NY Chapter of the UU Christian Fellowship; previously, she was vice-president for the national organization of the UUCF. Kelly lives in Riverdale with her husband, CUC member Benjamin Unger, and their two tomcats. She frequently provides guest preaching and mental-health consulting to various faith communities. Her public programs, seminars, and workshops explore the many intersections between spiritual wisdom and psychological insight. She occasionally volunteers for the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry.

Rev. Mason was in affiliation with CUUC for two years, 2014-2016. She is now affiliated with First Unitarian in Brooklyn -- though she and husband Ben can still be seen occasionally in attendance at CUUC. See more about Rev. Mason at her website: KELLYMURPHYMASON.COM


Environmental Justice Workshop

“Our Place in the Web of Life”
a two-session curriculum by the UUA Ministry for Earth
will be offered
Sat Mar 29 and Sat Apr 12
10:00am to 3:00pm
Fourth Unitarian Society of Westchester
1698 Strawberry Rd
Mohegan Lake, NY 10547

Facilitated by Rev. Karen Brammer (minister of 4USW and Manager for the UUA Green Sanctuary Program)

Register at 914-222-3114
Cost $40 includes both workshops

This highly-engaging, two-session class invites participants to look deeply at the consequences of their actions on people and the environment–close at home and in communities across the nation and world. Through music, participatory research, visual mapping, ethical reflection, meditation and ritual, participants wrestle with what it means to be faithfully and justly part of an inter-connected community of life.

Registration Deadline: Thu Mar 27, 5:00pm.


Compassionate Communication

"Our Unitarian Universalist history from the 60s shows us that it's not enough to want to be compassionate, to want to stand for justice. We have to learn how. We have to learn the skills to hear each other with compassion. Cognitive brain learns quickly. Limbic brain is slow and needs a lot of practice, and it's limbic brain that needs the training. There are weekend workshops that we could have here. We could create practice groups meeting monthly to gradually hone the skill of hearing each other with compassion. We can make that happen if we want to." (CUC Sermon, "Nonviolent Social Change." 2014 Jan 19.)

Rev. LoraKim Joyner now announces BOTH a workshop AND a practice group for learning and honing the skills of hearing each other with compassion -- essential skills if we are to stand for justice and be a positive force in the world.

Practice Group
Nurturing Nature: Saving Ourselves as We Save the World

This is a practice group open to the public and CUC members where we learn how to nurture our selves so that we can respond compassionately to those with whom we share this splendid earth. We will primarily focus on the principles and practices of Nonviolent Communication that help us develop our compassionate consciousness so that we can more easily embody compassion towards ourselves and others. Through our practices together we will grow in our ability to nurture our connections to ourselves, to friends, family members, other animals, and coworkers, and to nature as a whole. By coming together we augment our emotional, social, organizational, ecological, and transpecies intelligences.

The first practice group meets Sat Mar 29, noon at the Parsonage. This is a chance to get a jump start on CUC's involvement with Compassionate Communication, which will formally kick off with a workshop on Sat May 10. During practice session we will have silent meditation, teaching, exercises, sharing and discussion, journaling, and reading. This is chance to grow community and deepen our compassionate consciousness so we can better care for ourselves and others. Come in comfortable clothing, and bring something to write with and a journal (or something to write on).

This is a free offering by Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner, Certified Trainer in Nonviolent Communication, wildlife veterinarian, and Unitarian Universalist minister. Donations are gladly accepted so she can sustain her work in the world.

Please RSVP by going to:

Compassionate Communication: Nurturing Our Lives, Relationships, and World

Sat May 10
9:30am - 3:00pm
Community Unitarian Church
468 Rosedale Avenue
White Plains, NY

This workshop is open to anyone seeking more deeply meaningful and peaceful relationships.

Compassionate Communication, also known as Non-Violent Communication (NVC), is a transformative practice that enriches our relationship with ourselves and others. This workshop will give an overview of NVC as well as opportunities to practice dealing with conflict more effectively and nurture our spirits more fully.

Presenter: Rev. LoraKim Joyner, D.V.M., is a Unitarian Universalist minister now serving as a community minister in Multi-species Ministry and Compassionate Communication. Among her current positions, Rev. Joyner serves as Right Relations Consultant for the UU Metro NY District, is a Certified Trainer in NVC and works as an avian veterinarian in Latin American conservation.

Registration: Registration by Mon May 5 is required.
 Fee is $15.00 to cover costs (includes lunch).
 Send checks to:
 Jane Dixon
Compassionate Communication Workshop
468 Rosedale Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605.

For more information contact Jane at: jrdixon@optonline.net or 914-949-5919.

Flyer of this info (good for printing):


CUC Bird Walk Report: Sun Mar 2

Bird Walk Results
Sunday Morning Mar 2

Report filed by:
Rev. LoraKim Joyner, DVM

Time of observations: 8:30am - noon EST
Site: Grounds of Community Unitarian Church, 468 Rosedale Ave (approx. 8 acres)

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, immature
This morning's bird walk was simply balmy, more than 20 degrees warmer than the last walk. The nine of us didn't quite peel off the layers down to t-shirts, but I did begin to trust that soon we would be sipping lemonade on the porch after the walk instead of huddling in front of the fire and drinking hot tea. The swelling red maple buds do not lie - Spring is coming!

Our theme this morning was Avian Zen, using Zen Buddhism as a means to show the spiritual and health aspects of bird watching. During the walk we both intentionally listen and seek to identify birds, and then at other times we simply walk, or be, so that we in essence can grow our compassion for all beings. We also highlighted a few koans, which are Zen's way of puzzling the student so that they can see that there is no difference between themselves and others. The most challenging koan for the morning, however, was identifying certain birds. We will never know who the two high flying gulls were, but we did figure out that the brown woodpecker was an immature yellow-bellied sapsucker - a new bird species for CUC grounds!

While walking around we noticed several bird species sparring with one another, a sign of spring coming and male territoriality. Males will be quite driven by their hormones, as Spring brings on what is known as gonadal recrudescence. For example, the male robins' testicles will increase in size over 500 times. That's a lot of hormones!

We reached 23 species on this walk, an all time high. Each of these counts is entered in eBird and you can review these lists by going www.ebird.org and seeing what birds have been seen on our property. You can also come see the birds in person, learn fascinating facts about birds, experience a nature spiritual practice, and enjoy one another's company.

The next bird walk will be on Sun Apr 20.

See you there,

Here’s the complete bird list:

Species Seen Sun Mar 2

Dark-eyed Junco
1 Red-tailed hawk
3 mourning dove
1 red-bellied woodpecker
2 downy woodpecker
1 hairy woodpecker
1 yellow-bellied sapsucker
3 blue jay
2 black-capped chickadees
1 tufted titmouse
2 white-breasted nuthatch
1 Carolina wren
3 American robin
3 European starling
1 song sparrow
2 white-throated sparrow
5 dark-eyed junco
3 Northern cardinal
2 house finch
2 house sparrow
14 American goldfinch
8 Canada geese
2 gulls
5 common grackle

Previous Bird Walk Reports (click on date)
Sun Feb 9
Sun Jan 5