Congratulations to the UU Congregation of Buffalo, who installed the Rev. Joan Montagnes on Sunday, November 15, 2015!
The Service was the culmination of a four-year search for a minister who now serves the congregation that has been part of the greater Buffalo community since 1831. Rev. Montagnes is the congregation's first female settled minister in 184 years. She was unanimously approved by the congregation in June.
Rev. Montagnes, a native of Toronto, has been a Unitarian Universalist minister for 22 years. She has served congregations in Edmonton, Alberta; Beaconsfield, Quebec; Toronto; Wenatchee, Wash.; Moscow, Idaho; and as associate minister at East Shore Unitarian Church, Bellevue, Wash. She was Consultant with the Unitarian Universalist Association for the Western Region in Redmond, Wash., before accepting the position in Buffalo. Her divinity degree is from the Meadville Lombard Theological School of Chicago (1994). She also has a Master of Science degree from the University of Alberta in Edmonton (1990).
The ceremony included opening remarks from Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Unitarian Universalist Association members, including those from UUA President Rev. Peter Morales, Rev. Lori Staubitz and Rev. Renee Ruchotzke. It was covered by the local news.
More than three dozen area clergy members from all faiths participated in a ceremonial procession that was part of the Installation Service.
Rev. Sarah Lammert, the Unitarian Universalist Association Director of Ministries and Faith Development, delivered the Sermon, Hunger and Passion Call Us on Our Way.
The current church, designed by noted architect Edward Austin Kent, and built in 1906, was listed this year on the State Register of Historic Places and on the National Registry of Historic Places. It has gained iconic status in the Elmwood Village because of its old-style English perennial gardens and its American-Gothic architecture. Its Sanctuary has been called "one of the best Arts and Crafts spaces in Buffalo."
The church has been a community-centered Elmwood-Village institution for decades. Kurt Vonnegut's "Requiem" had its musical debut at UUCB and was performed by the UUCB Choir. The church also gained historical notoriety when it became a physical and symbolic sanctuary to many pacifists during the Vietnam War.
President Millard Fillmore was a member of the congregation during his life in Buffalo and the congregation welcome Abraham Lincoln as a guest of Fillmore during Lincoln's procession route before his first inauguration as U.S. President in 1861.
UUCB has formally established itself as a "Welcoming Community" and was one of the first Buffalo churches to marry same-sex couples after the New York State Legislature's approval of the 2011 Marriage-Equality Act.
The church continues its active social-justice base and community activism by sharing its Sunday collections with a wide variety of Buffalo service institutions and by opening its doors to a diverse range of speakers, meetings, and concert venues. In addition, as part of The Family Promise program, the church offers refuge to many homeless families throughout the year.