Elizabeth Gerencser, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Music Director
Michael and Connie were honored as “UU Religious Humanists of the Year” in 2016.
Most of my adult life was spent building a career, raising five children as a single parent and just trying to make my mark on the world. I held several management and director positions in Human Resources, Sales and Fundraising. My life has been a series of journeys and with each journey I have developed and grown. I moved to Cleveland in the summer of 2008, to start a new life with my partner, and a few years later started a consulting business.
In September of 2013, I received my call to the Ministry. Once I made the decision, things started to unfold for me. I enrolled at Meadville Lombard Theological School in the summer of 2014, completed a Chaplin’s residency in 2015, and spent 2016 and 2017 serving as the Minister Intern at the Kent UU church in Kent Ohio. In May of 2017, I graduated from Meadville. I was offered a position that summer as an Interim Minister for the Cape Town Unitarian Church in Cape Town, South Africa. Living and serving as a Minister outside of my native country has been and continues to be a life-changing experience. I have learned how to minister to a mixed multicultural and multiracial congregation. My time spent in South Africa was a life-changing experience. I have learned that it is always in the quiet moments of our lives when the Holy speaks to us. In January of 2019, I left South Africa to serve as the Interim Minister in Peoria, IL. I finished serving that congregation in June of 2020 and accepted a position to serve as the Sr. Interim Minister for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, IN, where I am currently serving. As an Interim Minister, it is always exciting to learn new ways to engage the congregation especially fostering deep and spiritual connections during this unique time of COVID-19.
Rabbi Horowitz has been married to Toby for 58 years and they have two children. He lectures widely on issues dealing with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender concerns, the challenge of the radical right, as well as a variety of Judaic subjects, to academic institutions, religious institutions, and corporations throughout the United States and in other countries as well. He is frequently a presenter at the Academy for Spiritual Formation sponsored by the Upper Room.
by Reverend Renee Ruchotzky
Elizabeth Gerencser, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music
Even when diversity and inclusion are aspirations for a community, living into such a community can be fraught with misunderstandings and hurt. How might we hold one another in love and covenant as we build a beloved community together?
by Reverend Renee Ruchotzke and
David Blazer, Director of Music
Instead of a world where exploitation and extraction rule, there is a world of interconnection, beauty, and resilience that we yearn for. How might Unitarian Universalists be partners with indigenous and other marginalized communities to live into a transformed way of living that invites all of humanity to participate?
Rev. Renee Ruchotzke serves local congregations as a part of our larger Unitarian Universalist Association. She serves on the LeaderLab design team and as Dean of the UU Leadership Institute. She lives in Kent, OH, where she and her spouse Randy spend their free time outside in their Permaculture food forests garden.
by Kathy Strawser and
The Very Reverend Tracey Lind and
In 2017, the Very Reverend Tracey Lind stepped down as Dean of Cleveland's Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, following a diagnosis of early-onset dementia. What changes did this bring to her personal life, her activism, her ministry and her spiritual life? We welcome Rev. Lind and her wife Emily Ingalls to our pulpit to share their learnings and a message about what it means to be human.
by Reverend Nozomi Ikuta and
“Until I got to Denison, most Christians I knew treated the Sermon on the Mount as a good idea but not something we were actually supposed to practice. At Denison, I've learned that it's actually a survival manual in a poor community so that people don't kill each other."
~Pastor Nozomi C.
Nozomi Ikuta is pastor of Denison Avenue UCC, and a co-founder of the Neighborhood Achievement Hub, which forges pathways from poverty to possibility. A Cleveland native, she returned to her hometown after attending Carleton College, Harvard Divinity School, and New York Theological Seminary. Her interest in healing from historical trauma is rooted in her family's experience of forcible removal from their home in California, and placement in a concentration camp in Poston, AZ. She enjoys taiko, tai chi, and hiking with her husband and dog.
by Reverend Peter Newport and
Loss of identity, not knowing who you are, is part of white supremacy culture—for white people, anyway. A personal look, this morning, from where one white person came from; some of the confusions that arose along the way; and the story of John Wampus.
by Reverend Dave Clements and
Secrets can be defined as those experiences, thoughts, sometimes feelings that we choose to keep from view or to talk about. There are some secrets that by their very nature contain information whose authorized disclosure could endanger lives or security. But then there are secrets that become “elephants in the room.” These can be questions, problems, solutions or issues that many people choose to ignore because to do otherwise could cause embarrassment, sadness or even trigger an argument. What happens when secrets become elephants in the room?
by Reverend Renee Ruchotzke and
Congregational life can provide opportunities for growth and deepening as individuals and as communities. How might our congregation work faithfully with Rev. Tricia Hart in this time of interim ministry, to co-create such a community at West Shore? Rev. Renee Ruchotzke serves NE Ohio congregations as a part of our larger Unitarian Universalist Association. She is West Shore’s primary contact with the UUA and the region. She serves as dean of the online UU Leadership Institute and blogs at Growing Vital Leaders on the (click it) UUA Website
by Reverend Anya Johnston and
The end of 2017 reminds us that time is passing, either marking lost opportunity or setting the stage for new hope. We play a part in choosing hope or a sense of loss. Let’s consider what to do with the past so we can awaken to a new year of progress and enlightenment! Rev. Anya Johnston was last heard at West Shore at the ordination of Dave Clements in October. A Westerner by training and temperament, Reverend Anya has enjoyed immersive ministry since 1999.
by Reverend Peter Newport and
Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”
In the three millennia since Isaiah, it’s hard to find anything new to say about Christmas that hasn’t already been said at least a hundred thousand times. But even as we wade through the commercial wasteland that stretches through the holiday season one more time, can we find anything to say about Christmas that’s real, that’s new, that’s hopeful, that hasn’t been said before? Signs point to “Yes!”
recording coming soon
by Reverend Peter Newport
Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek writes that “Hope is only where despair is." Truly new things happen only when we can find no way out of "existing coordinates" and must invent something new in order to survive. "The magic is to turn a desperate situation into a new beginning.” How might we do that? Children and youth will join us in the Sanctuary for the beginning of the service.
by Reverend Peter Newport
Rev. Peter Newport & Worship Associates A very special worship service, for all ages. Join us for a retelling A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, the lovely story of a Christmas past told from the recollection of a child.
by Reverend Peter Newport
This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, a four-week period of patient (or impatient) anticipation leading up to Christmas. Many families use Advent calendars to count-down to the festivities, but mostly we wait—either to get it over with or in eager delight. Might there be a spiritual dis-cipline to waiting? Are there insights we might gain from such a discipline that may sharpen our appreciation of Christmas? Enquiring minds and hearts want to know. Rev. Newport is the husband and partner in ministry of West Shore’s Interim Minister, Rev. Patricia Hart. They served together in two congregations in Pennsylvania and have been married for almost twenty years. Peter served congregations in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Pennsyl-vania, and has been both a hospital and a hospice chaplain.
by Reverend Patricia Hart and
Reverend Christopher Long
Worship Leaders As Unitarian Universalists and friends of the great, living tradition, we put great trust in the ability of science and medicine to heal our physical bodies in some instances, and rightly so. Let’s explore together what, if any, role our UU Principles and Sources, and UU theologies, play in healing in our lives. Rev. Christopher Long returns to the Cleveland area after eleven years of being away. He graduated from Starr King School for the Ministry (May 2009), was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist Minister by the First Unitarian Church of Oakland (June 2009), and spent the last seven years in Madison, WI, where he worked at the University of Wisconsin as an Assistant Associate Program Specialist.
by Reverend David T. Durkit
of First United Church of Christ, Eastlake, OH
On Pride Sunday, we'll look at the many masks each of us wears. We need help in removing them. This can be, for most of us, a very difficult task. Our guest minister will take us through a step by step journey of removing our own mask to God, to ourselves, and to others. He will intertwine this with his own personal journey from being dismissed as a priest from the Orthodox Church to his becoming a minis-ter in the United Church of Christ, and of course there's a West Shore connection!
by Reverend Patricia Sheldon
Faith in anything can help us through difficult times and enrich our lives. But does it work if it is with or without God? Rev. Patricia Sheldon is a Unitarian Universalist com-munity minister associated with the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland in Shaker Heights. She worked as a hospital chaplain for many years and currently provides education and support for individuals and groups around any of life’s losses.
by Reverend Joe Cherry
Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland
There's something about coming home after having been away that gives one fresh perspective to the familiar. After spending 4 years on the "left coast" Rev. Joe came back to the Midwest, eager to return home. What did he learn about himself, and our Midwestern/Rustbelt ways upon his return, and what can these lessons teach us about our own spiritual lives? There is a real beauty in being in the Mid-west, join us to learn more.
by Reverend Warren Campbell-Gaston
We humans have a capacity for both discovering facts and creating fantasies. In religion, these two capacities are often blurred and sometimes reversed—fact accepted as fantasy and fantasy accepted as fact. We will explore how the ra-tional language of fact and science and the poetic language of myth and metaphor are employed by people of a liberal faith to bring understanding and expression to their relig-ion?
|by||Reverend Mark Morrison-Reed|
“I was hiking up a mountain when an excruciating moment set me on the path to social activism. Along the way the challenges taught me some hard lessons, including learning to be thankful for the obstacles I encountered.” Retired from Unitarian Universalist parish ministry, The Reverend Mark Morrison-Reed is an affiliated faculty member at Meadville Lombard Theological School and the coordinator of the Sankofa Archive there. He is the author or editor of five other books from Skinner House Books. Mark will be the keynote speaker at the Pilgrimage To Selma Conference in March. Mark is currently working on a new book about the Black Empowerment Controversy.
Religion, Dowd claims, has always been about helping people collectively to live in "right relationship to reality." Given today's science-based knowledge and the magnitude of humanity's challenges, ecology is necessarily the new theology and the interdisciplinary study of "big history" is the new Genesis. Those who fail to under-stand that evidence is modern-day scripture, and that the world we live in is an honorable world, betray the future in the most egregious of ways.
|Reverend Tamara Lebak|
Service offered by In the Hebrew scriptures, the story of the power of Babel warns against the arrogance that can arise in assuming that we are all speaking the same language and having the same experience. In the Christian Scriptures in the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit descends upon a group of people all speaking different languages and allows those present to under-stand foreigners as though they were speaking in their own language. What is the underlying unity in our diversity? What are the differences that make a difference? What do these passages teach us about how to engage in our increasingly diverse church and world? Rev. Tamara Lebak currently serves as Associate Minister at All Souls in Tulsa, OK, the largest Unitarian Universalist congregation in the country. She is also an accomplished musician currently in the recording studio with her first full-length album. She’ll share some of those songs this Sunday. We are pleased to welcome the All Souls’ Children’s Choir with Director David Smith. This 30+ strong voices of children and youth will offer special music during the service. Also, this is New Member Sunday where we’ll welcome new members into our church community.
|by||Reverend Kathleen Rolenz with|
Every gardener knows that planting seeds doesn't necessarily result in a fruitful harvest but if you never plant anything, you certainly won’t get anything in return! This Steward-ship Sunday will reflect on the theme of Planting the Seed, Harvest the Power, and of how the seeds we plant now for the future of this congregation will determine the harvest. Rev. Tom Schade, our Provocateur-in-Residence will return for a final service and tell us what he has seen during his time with us. The Free Spirit Band will join us for the song “Get Together” by the Youngbloods.
There's a line in a country song that goes "If I knew what I was doing, I'd be doing it right now." It isn't just that I often don't have the energy to do what I think I ought to do, but that I also don't really know what I want to do, having hid-den it from even myself.
Many of the most powerful movements for social justice
have been those inspired and sustained by religious faith
and practice. Many of us yearn to bring our own justice
commitments into deeper conversation with our spiritual
lives, to find that same inspiration and sustenance. How
might we learn do this, individually and together, and
what difference can it make?
Rev. McTigue is the Director of the new UU College
of Social Justice, a dynamic new collaboration of the UUA
and UUSC. Prior to accepting this position in 2012, she
served as a parish minister for 25 years, first in North
Carolina and then New Haven, CT. The mission of the
College of Social is to inspire and sustain faith-based justice
work on issues of local, national and global importance.
Our group from West Shore will be traveling to
Haiti under the auspices of the College. The Outreach
Offering will be received for The College of Social Justice;
a brief service to Commission the team going to Haiti this
month will also be included in this Sunday’s service.
|by||Reverend George Buchanan|
In our worship together, we'll reflect on the deep strength within ourselves, considering we may already be much more "all right" than our pushy, anxious culture recognizes. Relax
With Worship Associate April Stoltz
West Shore is honored to welcome Bill Schulz, President of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, former Execu- tive Director of Amnesty International USA (1994-2006) and former President of the Unitarian Universalist Association (1985-1993). Dr. Schulz will talk about how to insure both his mental health and your own, and in the process, save the world. Not a bad combo--even without fries!
Dr. Brene Brown says "Connection is why we are here. It’s what brings purpose and meaning to our lives." And yet, the thing we need to have in order to obtain that connection is vulnerability. The ability to let our hearts break wide open and allow other people know who we truly are. Most of us fear vulnerability because we don't want to get hurt but if vulnerability is what brings connection and thus meaning and purpose into our lives, how do we let our heart break open anyway?
With Worship Associate Dave Clements
The pre-service music is available in it's entirety following the normal end of this service.
The ancient Hungarian-speaking kingdom of Transylvania is home to the oldest Unitarian movement in the western world. West Shore is proud to be a partner church with a Unitarian church in Bagyon, Translyvania, Romania. The visit of our Partner Church minister culminates in a service of celebration at which Rev. Fekete will offer the sermon. Join the co-ministers and Partner Church leaders in a service that honors the traditions of the oldest surviving Unitarian movement in the western world, and the friendship we have built with them.
With Reverend Kathleen Rolenz and Reverend Wayne Arnason
Each year our country pauses to remember those who have lost their lives in service. This Memorial Day we will pause to remember those lost and reflect on this service. The frame of our memory shapes the future of our own service.
On Commitment Sunday when we ask you to bring your pledge forms for 2012-13 into church and make them the offering for this Sunday, we look for a well-respected guest preacher to join the co-ministers in creating a service worth remembering. Rev. Belletini has grown the Columbus church into the state's largest UU congregation. His poetic preaching has been part of General Assemblies, European UU events, and district gatherings around the country. So this Sunday is not just about planning on next year's gift to the church. It's about giving yourself the gift of Mark's presence and teaching. The Free Spirit Band will offer Peter Mayer's Earth Town Square.
with Reverend Kathleen Rolenz, Worship Associate Tom Hughes and Reverend Wayne Arnason
What sources do you really draw from for inspiration? Do you trust the teachings of science and technology? Do you believe the language of a higher power or draw from the deeper wells of the earth's inspiration? Do you trust your own reason and experience or find comfort in a guided faith? This sermon will probe your assumptions and challenge you to act on your beliefs.
Reverend Christina Neilson, SouthWest UU Church, North Royalton, Ohio
Collective joy may just be the most dangerous idea in America. Wild dancing. unruly mobs, riots nd other images of masses of people moving with unbridled passion are often represented as threatening or even terrifying. Yet they can also represent something else, the possibility of a new world breaking forth. Which are they? And how shall we best understand collective joy?
Reverend Colin Bossen, UU Society of Cleveland
Postlude: Now Thank We All Our God, Russell Schultz-Widmar
Words such as humanitarian, social reformer, teacher and Samaritan come to mind when describing the life of Dorothea Dix. This morning, she will visit from the 19th century, sharing her story first person. Her work with the mentally ill transformed their care and continues to influence social work today.
Reverend Beth Marshall, First Unitarian Church of Toledo
Perhaps no person in history is more closely associated with science than Albert Einstein. Today we will explore Einstein's spiritual life and the close connection between science and his understanding of all things spiritual -- God, the underlying harmony of the universe, and what Einstein famously called "cosmic religious feeling."
Reverend Tim Temerson, Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron
Rev. Mary Grigolia will explore the inner dimension of Unitarian Universalism and primary spiritual task, that unites us across theological divides, supports and challenges us in living intentionally together in religious community.
Mary serves as a consultant to congregations and committees, facilitating workshops, and retreats focusing on team building, goal setting, and change work, as well as programs specific to pastoral care, social justice, and adult spiritual development programs. She leads programs in spiritual development and is a singer-songwriter with eight songbooks and three recordings of original music.
We welcome Dr. Anthony Wilgus, a member of First Unitarian Church in Toledo and a Professor of Social Work at the University of Findlay. Tony is a friend of our ministers and when they read this sermon they knew they wanted to hear him offer it at West Shore. He writes: "This sermon travels the terrain of fatherhood, from biology to theology. I'll talk about my own guiding principles that have defined fatherhood for me."
This service will also feature our annual Bridging Ceremony, a recognition of graduating high school seniors from our youth group and from West Shore families.
Guest Speaker: Dr. Anthony Wilgus, Professor of Social Work at the University of Findlay
If the truth that is most available to us is contextual, is our morality mostly circumstantial? How well do we really know ourselves and how confident can we be in predicting what we would do or not do in situations we have never before encountered? Join me as I explore the external forces that may in fact cause us to act out against the values we proclaim.
Reverend Tamara, our guest Minister, is an Associate Minister from All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Sermon text unavailable
Kaaren writes:"We Rust Belt residents are well known for modesty, thrift, and loyalty when it comes to the cars we buy. We are maintainers, keeping the old buggy on the road with spit, glue, and duct tape! Reliable transportation - that's what we want! Does it work the same way with our spiritual lives? Is all that matters about church that it helps us get from the child dedication to the cemetery, with maybe a wedding along the way? Maybe there are some Rust Belt values that aren't serving us as well as they used to?" We ask you to bring your pledge form sent to you in the mail and fill in everything but the pledge number! This service will feature a Stewardship Recessional that all of us will be participating in.