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What’s the difference between joy and happiness? How can spiritual practice help us find and maintain joy? How does reciprocal relationship help us nurture joy? When the weight of the world feels so heavy, how do we practice joy? Former UUCSR tenor soloist and current Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta minister, Rev. Nic Filzen, led a joy-full journey on Sunday, July 25, 2021.

In a world where so many of us feel compelled to “do” rather than “be,” what does it mean to sow the seeds of being? Given all the demands of Zoom and modern life, as the world continues to open up for many of us this Spring, to what extent can silence and rest factor into our own lives? And what would it mean to the ecology of our communities if they did? Join us, and Cassie Montenegro Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School in an exploration of who we might continue to become together if we allowed ourselves more time to “be.”

Soulful Sundown, led by Rev. Jennifer Brower with The Cosmic Orchestra. Where music resides at the heart of religious experience.

On July 11, 2021, in-person outdoor Worship Service led by Rev. Jennifer L. Brower was live streamed online. When asked why he repeatedly took his life into his own hands with his daring stunt jumps, 1970’s stuntmaster Evel Knievel said, “I love the feeling of the fresh air on my face and the wind blowing through my hair.

Soulful Sundown, led by Rev. Jennifer Brower with The Cosmic Orchestra. Where music resides at the heart of religious experience.

Democracy, Through My Eyes, on July 4, 2021, was led by guest minister Rev. Anthony Mtuaswa Johnson. Rev. Johnson wrote, “When I first heard, years ago, that the word DEMOCRACY was nowhere in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence I was startled. This could not be true. Our government is a democracy! As it turns out, our Founders actually feared democratic rule. The Founders preferred the word REPUBLIC. " Rev. Johnson's sermon shared the truth about the differences between the two words.

On Sunday, June 27, 2021, the largest annual gathering of UUs joined in worship together. The Sunday Worship from the UUA General Assembly was led by the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis.

Until Love Wins–Today’s challenging times require a nimble and resilient spirituality. We need a demanding, inspiring faith and a love strong enough that it will not let us go. We draw the circle wide, gathered our strength, and promised to stay in the struggle and joy until love wins.

Presenters: Musicians, Franco Holder, Aimee K. Bryant, and Dr. Randal Buikema, and religious professionals, Lauren Wyeth, Julica Hermann de la Fuente, and Revs. Arif Mamdani, Karen Hutt, and Jen Crow will lead the service.


For each of us, the time comes to turn the page. We mark milestones and we find ways to let go in order to open ourselves to whatever wisdom the next chapter might hold. In their final service as Student Minister, Alia Shinbrough will offer some reflections on this year of learning and growing into ministry with the community at Shelter Rock.

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.


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.