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The Unitarian Transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” Human beings learn so much from play. A sense of playfulness might be one of the things we need in our toolbox in order to continue to learn and grow as we move toward post-pandemic congregational life. This was our second in-person, outdoor worship service at UUCSR. A small number of preregistered members were present; other members, friends, and newcomers joined worship simultaneously via livestream.

Soulful Sundown led by special guest Alia Shinbrough, Student Minister, with music from The Cosmic Orchestra. Friday, June 11, 2021, 8:00 PM

During these exceptional and often traumatic times, our young people have continued to explore Unitarian Universalism. They have thought about what they believe now and how they live out their personal beliefs and our Unitarian Universalist Principles. This service recognizes and celebrates our 8th grade Coming of Age class.

A century ago at the close of another pandemic and global war, poets and preachers struggled with how to mark the magnitude of loss they had collectively experienced. In our time, how do we tell stories of loss while proclaiming the love at the heart of our faith?

How long has it been? Too long. This outdoor service was the first on-site Sunday worship service since March 8, 2020. A small number of preregistered members were present. Together we shared a creation story: creating community, making meaning, and lifting our hearts and hopes in celebration. Together, we bring about the blossoms of new life.

It has been a year like none other for our children, youth, and families. Through this time of isolation, separation, anxiety, and zooming everything – our young people have also built determination, empathy, resilience, and a strong commitment to justice in the world. In the Bridging Worship Service on May 16, 2021, we recognized and celebrated our graduating High School seniors. Included were stories, readings, and reflections from Lifespan Religious Education Coordinator Carson Jones, Student Minister Alia Shinbrough, Senior Seminar Advisor Bill Carmody, and graduating members of the Senior Seminar youth group. Featuring music from the UUCSR Vocal Quartet, Jazz Ensemble, and a new recording from the Young People’s Choir conducted by RE Music Specialist George Weisman.

Soulful Sundown led by Rev. Jennifer L. Brower with music from The Cosmic Orchestra. Friday, May 14, 2021, 8:00 PM

Celebrating Mother’s Day in community brings forth a range of experiences from grief to gratitude and beyond. Especially this year, how do we show up for each other on this day which can be both meaningful and heart-wrenching for many among us? On Mother’s Day of 2021, we joined together to live into our complexities, lean into our differences, and honor these contradictions through our communal celebrations.

The Genesis of the Exodus, led by UUCSR Women's Group and the Rev. Jennifer L. Brower. Remember that long ago, brave people migrated to seek better lives. Today, families continue to try to escape violence, poverty, and despair at great peril. People of the Unitarian Universalist tradition are committed to helping those in need and to encouraging what is good in this world grow and thrive.

Earth Day 2021: New Hope  The world celebrates Earth Day on April 22. On Sunday, April 25, 2021, Green Sanctuary members and Rev. Jaye Brooks lifted up the emerging causes for hope for our planet. Even in the midst of climate change and the real risk of serious environmental and humanitarian harm, new efforts, new discoveries, and new wisdom offer unanticipated paths to a more hopeful future.

Caught in a time of pandemic, of political turmoil, and great justice seeking, it is important to remember that at the end of the day—every day—we are each and all pilgrims of the spirit. The question is, in our tradition of free faith, do we journey alone, or together?

Reverend Anne Bancroft returned to UUCSR as a guest preacher, having served as an Intern Minister nearly twelve years ago!

A human being spends a lifetime not only being but becoming. What does it mean to become more fully human—to live into the potential that’s innate within each of us? How do we become a complete and fulfilled human being? And can we imagine what it would feel like? Rev. Jaye Brooks addressed these questions on April 11, 2021.

Friday, April 11, 2021: Blessing of the Animals


April 4, 2021. In the words of the Rev. Jane Rzepka, “We have wintered long enough…" In this, the season of life upbudding, as buds and bulbs swell with potency, our spirits swell with hope and empowering potential. With the renewal of natural life, we will find our hearts and joy again. This morning was a multigenerational celebration of Easter. The UUCSR Choir, Jazz Ensemble and the Young People's Choir all participated.

This year, the Jewish festival of Passover was celebrated from the evening of March 27 through April 4. The March 28 multigenerational service explored how themes of adaptation, memory, and liberation call us to commemorate this Passover season through ritual, song, and story.

On Sunday, March 21, 2021, Rev. Jennifer L. Brower with UUCSR and UUCCN Members, led the Worship Service titled Commitment. The service, which included a Time For All Ages, was created collaboratively by members of the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock and those of the UU Congregation of Central Nassau in Garden City, New York with support from the Rev. Jennifer L. Brower. We reflected upon Commitment, which includes roots from three Latin word: com – together, mit – to send, and ment – a result. Pieced together, the elements shape an idea that commitment is not experienced in isolation but with others and with all parts of ourselves. That commitment has an energy that moves, sends us along in a direction. And that commitment is the result of choice.

No one celebrates a year of pandemic, but we’ve all noticed the anniversary looming. Our last Sunday of in-person worship was March 8, 2020 and the congregation’s premises closed effective March 13, 2020. Here we are, a year later, with far too many losses—and yet, somehow, a more sure awareness of our strength, our resilience, and our community. We gathered together on Sunday, March 14, 2020 for An Unwanted Anniversary:  A Pandemic Year, led by the UUCSR Ministry Team.

What is commitment? The life of Sister Helen Prejean, leader in the movement to abolish the death penalty, is a story of commitment. This worship service featured poems, songs, and stories about Sister Helen, exploring her personal transformation to a life of commitment. Songs by Jake Hegge from his song cycle "The Deepest Desire: Four Meditations on Love." March 7, 2021

Our Universalist roots call us to an embracing, all-encompassing, salvific Love. This universal love meets us where we are and crucially also asks us to grow more whole through our encounters with each other. To embody this love we must transform, and be transformed by our commitments to lift each other up, to seek liberation in our bodies, and liberation of our spirits. On February 28, 2021, Student Minister Alia Shinbrough asked all to contemplate together what changes we must embrace, and what transformations we must choose to undergo in order to better embody beloved community.


"The Tree of Life" was a collaborative service on February 21, 2021. The sea islands people of America's southeast coast are descended from Africans brought to this country as slaves. The separation of the islands helped to preserve their Gullah culture and language. Rev. Jaye Brooks and Music Director Stephen Michael Smith first encountered songs of the Gullah people in workshops led by singer, composer, and musicologist Ysaye Barnwell. The service celebrated the stories and music of the people of St. John's Island, South Carolina, collected in Guy and Candie Carawan's 1989 book, Ain't You Got a Right to the Tree of Life?

February 14, 2021 was the culmination of “30 Days of Love,” which began on Martin Luther King Sunday (January 17). The Worship Service, "Side with Love," was sponsored by the UUA. It featured music, reflection, and testimonies. “30 Days of Love” lifted up themes from the Commission on Institutional Change’s report, “Widening the Circle of Concern”; the Rev. Dr. Natalie Fenimore is one of the report’s authors. Our inspiration was the reminder that liberation in the wider world is indelibly connected to liberation within ourselves.

Unitarian Universalist congregations are considering adding an 8th Principle which speaks directly to the need to build the Beloved Community by working for racial justice, equity, and inclusion. How might we engage in this conversation? "Our 8th Principle?" was led by Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore.

Power and Possibility: We Vision a World  We’ll hear from multiple grantees about the possibilities envisioned by these leaders, and the world they are bringing into reality. Following the streamed service, Veatch staff and Governors will join the Coffee Hour.  

At 1:00 pm, our virtual Annual Meeting will explore: Recovery in Our Health, Economy, and Democracy. Grantees, live via Zoom, will speak to their work in these areas, and to the powerful role of Veatch as a funder of long-term social change in this crucial time. Register at www.uucsr.org/power to receive a direct link to the Annual Meeting via Zoom webinar.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 24, 2021: “Remembering the Body”—An All Long Island Sunday Service
This collaborative Sunday Service was a Long Island-wide project in Zoom webinar format (not a livestreamed service). A video has been generously provided by the UU Fellowship of Stony Brook. 

We gathered this day, Unitarian Universalists living through a pandemic on Long Island, to acknowledge, thank, and bless our long-suffering and so far surviving bodies in this combined live and recorded service. The Stony Brook worship team coordinated music and served as tech host. Shelter Rock provided its virtual choir.  

Old Lessons for a New Era, led by Rev. Jaye Brooks. When we remember the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday is now a national holiday, we honor the struggles and achievements of the civil rights movement and King's leadership. Those struggles live on in the movement for Black lives and the work of today's leaders. Dr. King's legacy isn't a page in a history book. His legacy is a commitment to practices and strategies that not only assert the inherent worth of every human being, but also seek to change the structures and institutions of society that are based in and reinforce injustice. This service horored the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

After the Storm In light of the events of this week, the UUCSR ministers are offering a service of readings, music and prayer today. All are welcome. The planned service on the 8th Principle Service is rescheduled for February 7, 2021.

Led by the Rev. Jennifer L. Brower with The Cosmic Orchestra

On the first Sunday morning of 2021, as we were poised on the Hinge of the Year, having left 2020 behind and just entering 2021, UUCSR members and our gifted professional soloists shared some of what they discerned in the strange days of the past year, and offered their hopes for the days ahead. Enjoy.

Service on December 27, 2020, Sublime Silence, was led by Seminarian Cassandra Montenegro. She wrote, "In Virginia Woolf's novel, To the Lighthouse, silence is both a welcome vehicle for inquiry into selfhood, and an oppressive force that unravels the self. How is it that we hold these two contradictions at once, and give silence the place it needs so that we come to know freedom for our selves?"

The Shelter Rock evening Service on Christmas Eve was one of readings and carols that told the birth story of Jesus of Nazareth, Light of the World, whose message of love and peace encourages each of us to be light-bearers in our time. Led by Rev. Jaye Brooks.

The Shelter Rock evening Service on Christmas Eve is one of readings and carols that tells the birth story of Jesus of Nazareth, Light of the World, whose message of love and peace encourages each of us to be light-bearers in our time. Led by Rev. Jaye Brooks.

The Family Christmas Eve Worship Service, The Children Come, features the annual First Grade RE Class Nativity Play and carols. The Jazz Ensemble participated.

2020 Winter Solstice Service is led by Student Minister Alia Shinbrough. Are you looking to mark the Winter Solstice in a special way this year? Do you have practices around embracing holy darkness as a nurturing force in the cycle of seasons? Have you been yearning to create sacred spaces and experiences anchored in earth-based spiritualities? You're in the right place!

This year Hanukkah, the Eight-day Jewish Festival of lights, is observed December 10-18. Unitarian Universalists honor the lessons of this Jewish celebration: the quest for religious freedom, and the times and places of miracles in our lives.

There will be stories of Hanukkah memories which bring light in the darkness. The Young People's Choir will sing.

Soulful Sundown on Friday, December 11, 2020 at 8:00 PM with spoken words of the Rev. Jennifer L. Brower and music by The Cosmic Orchestra with special guest Willy Porter.

The Face of Mystery, led by Rev. Jaye Brooks. As we enter the season of winter holidays, we prepare to celebrate the diversity of religious traditions within Unitarian Universalism. A UU who does not practice a particular faith-based celebration nonetheless honors it and those who do celebrate it. Today's service explores some of the ways those traditions presents a different face of the mystery that includes us all.

Sunday Service on November 29, 2020, "Open Hearts, Healing Hands," is led by Student Minister Alia Shinbrough. There is a chant, what might be thought of as a healing chant, that goes “When the world is sick… can’t no one be well.. but I dreamt we were all beautiful and strong.” In this time of pandemic, amidst the grief and longing, love and loneliness we’ve come to know many more ways our world is sick. How might we dream ourselves into healing to become more beautiful and strong together?

With our Annual Thanksgiving Worship Service, we again celebrate this community. We bring together bread from our many individual families, traditions. We share our bread and the stories surrounding our feasting. Our bread nourishes bodies and the stories about the bread feeds our souls. The sharing strengthens our community and forms our common table. While we won’t be able to eat bread together in the same room, we can still share our family’s bread. The Young People’s Choir will sing and the Jazz Ensemble will play.

Watch this Service in community in a Zoom space hosted by Student Minister Alia Shinbrough and Membership Coordinator Abigail Highland. The Zoom will be a quiet contemplative space, with a “whisper section” in the chat. You’re invited to bring your at-home chalice.

Register here to receive the Zoom link and join us 11:00 AM-12:00 noon on Nov. 22! Register here to receive the Zoom link and join us 11:00 AM-12:00 noon on Nov. 22! https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0qcuCoqzkoGNGp5RfVp3AC2jhjXA2HRwZZ Questions? Contact Alia at & Abigail at

On Sunday, November 15, 2020, Rev. Patrice Curtis, UUA Director of Transformational Interim Ministries, presented an interactive service that invited each person to come back to who they are, to remember and befriend anew the vision in the mirror. With Worship Assistant Suzanne Viverito, and Rev. Jaye Brooks.

Soulful Sundown on Friday, November 13, 2020 at 8:00 PM with Rev. Jennifer L. Brower and The Cosmic Orchestra

The television series "Stargate SG-1" popularized a device called the Quantum Mirror. Anyone who passes through it ends up in a parallel universe, one that's similar to, but not the same as, our own. Every election day acts as a Quantum Mirror. The entire nation passes through it and comes out into a different universe. What next? The Service titled "The Quantum Mirror" was led by Rev. Jaye Brooks on November 8, 2020.

On November 1, 2020, we remembered those no longer with us and reflected upon rituals of mourning and celebrations of life from around the world. This Special Service of Remembrance was led jointly by members of UUCSR and the UU Congregation of Central Nassau in Garden City (UUCCN), and The Rev. Jennifer L. Brower. Members of both congregations were invited to submit photos of each deceased loved onea to “lift up” in the Service.

Today's Service is led by UN Envoys Janet Bendowitz and Clara LaCorte, with Rev. Jaye Brooks, and special guest Bruce Knotts of the Unitarian Universalist Association at the UN (UU@UN). In recognition of United Nations Day, celebrated around the world on October 24, this Worship Service lifts up the work of the United Nations and its efforts to protect the planet Earth and its inhabitants from climate change.

"What's at Stake?," led by Student Minister Alia Shinbrough on Sunday, October 18, 2020

More and more, it is clear: there is no such thing as a risk-free life. But who is risking what? Which risks are ours to take and which ask too much, not only of ourselves but of our interdependent systems and communities? How do we live ethical lives when each decision is measured by risk not entirely known, and never entirely our own? To whom are we accountable, for whom are we responsible, and with whom do we belong? All to ask: when worlds break, what do we hold on to and lift up as sacred? And how do we make ways forward through the pieces?

Worship Service, "Clouds," led by Rev. Jaye Brooks. When the storm is coming, we brace ourselves for it. We hunker down. Powerful storms are usually brief and then we come out into the sunshine. It's different when we have a stretch of prolonged cloudiness, when day after day the sky is overcast. How do we cope with the clouds that linger in our lives? Is there really a "silver lining?" Can we look at clouds from "both sides now?" We're now in a time, an era, when even the word "blue" has multiple meanings—the sadness that often accompanies cloudy skies, and the joyous celebration when the clouds clear and the sky is a deep, beautiful blue.

On Friday, October 9, 2020, Soulful Sundown, titled "The Future Beckons," was broadcast. The Rev. Jennifer L. Brower led the Service which featured new music by The Cosmic Orchestra.

At 11:00 AM on Sunday, October 4, 2020, a special LIVE Zoom presentation was shared with UUCSR by the Board and Staff of Murray Grove Association from the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis. Watch the Service at on their YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/c/FirstUniversalistChurchofMinneapolis).

2020 is a big year for Universalism. It is the 250th anniversary of John Murray’s famous 1770 sermon in Thomas Potter’s chapel in Good Luck, New Jersey. We celebrate 2 and 1/2 centuries of Universalist contributions with this worship service streamed live nationwide in celebration of 250 years of the Universalist side of our faith tradition in the United States.

To Forgive and to Be Forgiven, led by Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore

The pandemic has changed how we do most things. For the safety of our members and public health, our worship services are online. In pre-pandemic years, this day would be our Homecoming service: warm hugs as we greet one another and a picnic lunch to follow. It's sad that we can't meet in person. But since the pandemic started we've learned something about who we are as a congregation and the home-of-the-spirit we create for one another even though we must gather as an online community. Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore and members of the UUCSR ministry team joined on Sunday, September 27, 2020 for a celebration of our Shelter Rock home, the community we've been strengthening since March, and the love that's at the heart of it all.

Service on Sunday, September 20, 2020, led by the UUCSR Ministry Team: "Home is Where the Heart Is." The pandemic has changed how we do most things. For the safety of our members and public health, our worship services are online. In pre-pandemic years, today would be our Homecoming service: warm hugs as we greet one another and a picnic lunch to follow. It's sad that we won't meet in person today. But since the pandemic started we've learned something about who we are as a congregation and the home-of-the-spirit we create for one another even though we must gather as an online community. Join the Ministry Team this morning for a celebration of our Shelter Rock home, the community we've been strengthening since March, and the love that's at the heart of it all.

If we wonder why religion and politics so often collide it is because they both arise from deeply held beliefs about what life should be about. In this most turbulent of political seasons, there is a role religion and UUism can play—and should!—that is sorely missing. Guest Minister Rev. Fred Wooden considered that role in the September 13, 2020 Service.

Rev. Fred, who recently retired from the Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan after many years of service, has just begun serving as Interim Minister at the Valley UU Congregation in Chandler, Arizona. Of local interest: Before Fountain Street, Rev. Fred served just around the corner from us at the UU Congregation in Brooklyn.

On 9-11, 2020, the Rev. Jennifer L. Brower, together with the Cosmic Orchestra, led "Soulful Sundown," an every-second-Friday contemporary Worship Service. Through moving spoken word and extraordinary music, this spiritual consideration of the concept of evil and grace offered religious grounding for those with and without connections to traditional religions.

So much has changed and is changing. We were already in a state of flux before COVID-19. We were already feeling the weight of white supremacy culture before George Floyd’s murder. The possibility of political change is on the horizon, yet we are not sure what will happen. Amid this milieu of constant turbulence, how might we prepare ourselves? How might we sustain ourselves? How might we renew ourselves?

Rev. Michael J. Crumpler is the LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs Director at the Unitarian Universalist Association and is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. Michael lives in Harlem and is very active in social justice ministry at the historic Judson Memorial Church of New York City, where he served President of the Board, 2016-2018. He is most passionate about intersectional ministry centered in blackness, queerness, HIV/AIDS, economic justice, and emotional well-being.

Guest minister Rev. Kimberley Debus presents the second part of her two-part series, "The Sacred in the Profane: Media and Making Meaning." Together, we examine some of the lessons popular culture has to teach us about our relationships to each other, our ethics, our communities, and our faith. The Sunday Service titled, The Sacred in The Good Place, considers what may be the single most remarkable half hour of network television! The show did not shy away from broad humor as it explored some of our deepest questions. This Service looks at some of the core lessons The Good Place teaches us.

Sunday, August 23, 2020: We’ve been through almost six months of medical and social upheaval. With all the mess we’ve faced, Rev. Gamblée is thinking that there may be a metaphorical pony in there somewhere... and he's wondering what the pony might look like. This Sunday, with the help of the music of Peter Cetera, we  asked the question, “Where are we going?”

On Sunday, August 16, 2020, Rev. Kimberley Debus, Guest Minister introduced the series, "The Sacred in the Profane: Media and Making Meaning." In this series, Rev. Debus examines some of the lessons popular culture has to teach us about our relationships to each other, our ethics, our communities, and our faith. In Part I, "The Sacred in the West Wing," she explains that while this popular political series has been off the air for 14 years, it continues to be a source of inspiration for many. This Service includes a look at some of the core lessons The West Wing teaches us.

This Sunday, we welcomed to our virtual pulpit The Rev. Dr. Ken Reeves, who returns to UUCSR—his home congregation—each summer. Rev. Reeves proposes that in this pandemic we need: truth, each other, and spiritual support. He alludes to how UU traditions have supported all three. He notes the conflict in human history and the present between truth and the avoidance of truth, and the conflict between working together and individualism, and the nature of spiritual support.

Long Island Unitarian Universalist Congregations joined together to worship on August 2, 2020. The Service, "Our Living Tradition," was a collaboration between Long Island Unitarian Universalist congregations to highlight our UU community as vital, connected and continuing through the pandemic and beyond. UU clergy and members from around Long Island participated in readings and an unprecedented musical video collaboration. The Sunday offering/plate collection benefited LIACUU.

One of our UU Principles is respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part. This recognition of interdependence with the Earth and all its inhabitants calls us to minister to the Earth—to be stewards of it—to treat it as a sanctuary. Surely this calling begins at home, whether on the grounds of our Shelter Rock congregation or within the homes we each inhabit.

 On July 26, 2020, the Green Sanctuary Committee addressed "Greening the Globe" in Sunday Service with Rev. Jaye Brooks.

On July 19, 2020, Rev. Jennifer L. Brower asked, "Have you ever had an experience of awe? You know, a direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life, as our Unitarian Universalist sources cite?" On this morning, we shared a reflection in song and spoken word offered by The Cosmic Orchestra.

Prior to walking into an extra-judicial execution, Coalhouse Walker, in the play, Ragtime, exhorts his friends to tell the story of the challenges of Black life in America. Our Service includes a little Broadway, Dr. King quotes, and a challenge or two. Everything you want in a summer UU Service.

Live on Sunday evening July 10, 2020 at Soulful Sundown Worship Service led by the Rev. Jennifer L. Brower with the Cosmic Orchestra.  Where music resides at the heart of the religious experience. Soulful Sundown: Second Fridays monthly

"This Too Shall Pass" Facebook Live on Sunday evening May 24, 2020 at Soulful Sundown Worship Service led by the Rev. Jennifer L. Brower with the Cosmic Orchestra. Where music resides at the heart of the religious experience. Soulful Sundown: Second Fridays monthly beginning June 12, 2020


The Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock is committed to providing support and assistance to our members and our community. We’ll have an online and social media presence to keep you company while you are at home – stay connected with us.

Additional midweek programming is available here. Please bookmark the UUCSR homepage for updates. Join the UUCSR mailing list here.