General Assembly: GA Presentations: Presenter views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the UUA.

Service of Living Tradition

General Assembly 2001 Event 4003

Called! By Whom? To What? (PDF, 6 pages)
Sermon by Richard S. Gilbert, Minister, First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY

Rev. Dr. Richard S. Gilbert, in his sermon at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assembly's Service of the Living tradition, called for all—not just ministers—to listen for the call to live a life with purpose, and to accept that invitation.

Sunday morning, June 24, the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly, in the 56th annual Service of the Living Tradition, honored ministers who serve and have served Unitarian Universalism. The service recognized ministers granted preliminary fellowship, those achieving final fellowship, and those completing full-time service. The Service of the Living Tradition also commemorated those ministers who had died between May 24, 2000 and May 21, 2001.

The program began with a prelude, a welcome by Rev. Dr. Diane Miller, UUA Department of Ministry Director, a choral introit by the Singers of the Living Tradition, a call to worship by the Rev. Dr. Michelle W. Bentley and, finally, the Service's traditional opening hymn, "Rank by Rank Again We Stand."

Rev. Dr. O. Eugene Pickett, who is completing an eight-year term as chair of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, and who is a past president of the UUA (1979-1985), shared some reflections on, as he said, "what some say may be the world's second oldest profession." Then certificates were given to ministers entering preliminary fellowship and attaining final fellowship, with the hand of fellowship extended by Rev. Pickett, the Rev. Dr. John A. Buehrens (UUA President 1993-2001) and the Rev. Mr. Gary E. Smith (president of the UU Ministers Association).

Rev. Dr. David P. Hubner recognized those completing their service in ministry. He noted that for most "retiring" Unitarian Universalist (UU) ministers, retirement did not in fact end their service, but simply shifted the ways they serve.

The thousands of Unitarian Universalists present, assembled in the Cleveland Convention Center's Public Auditorium, then expressed their thanks and celebration for the new and retiring ministers with applause and a standing ovation.

An offering was taken for the Living Tradition Fund, which provides financial assistance, scholarships and grants to ministerial students and to ministers. Rev. Dr. Ralph Mero urged that those present consider seriously increasing the amount of contribution they'd planned to make, Then the chorus sang Carolyn McDade's "There Is a Time," with the refrain, "Blessed our lives, blessed our love."

Rev. Gilbert began his sermon by noting that this year is the fortieth anniversary not only of the Unitarian Universalist Association, but of his own ordination and marriage. After he was literally called to preach this sermon at the Service of the Living Tradition, he chose a theme of vocation for this sermon, with the text from a poem: "Many are called, but most are frozen."

He recalled his own call, heard at age fourteen at a Boy Scout Jamboree, his path from a "mighty faith" to skepticism, his call from parish ministry to study academically the practice of religion, and his call in 1965 to Selma, resulting in his sense of a calling to return to the parish ministry, where he still serves.

The call, the invitation from life to live fully and with purpose, is there for all, he told the crowd.

But our lives are often so busy that we may not hear our call, or, if we do, we may not heed it. This running away from our call he named, following Maslow, the Jonah Complex. People tend to run away from opportunities to be their best.

Where does the call come from? Some, Gilbert said, would call it God. Others might say an individual, or the depth of consciousness. Gilbert, though, is less interested in what he called the "geography" of the call—where it comes from—but rather he is interested in the power of the call.

Other "calls" pull at people today, including the call of the marketplace or the call of the ladder of success. Or people fail to hear the call because so many are busy talking, not listening.

Gilbert pointed to a source that claimed that many Unitarian Universalists consider their UUism as their hobby, and suggested that we all ask: is this our hobby?

He also spoke of the difficulty in following a vocation, answering a call, when people have more opinions and fewer convictions.

Gilbert stressed the call that all people have: to do better than we do, to be better than we are. "To be is to be for others." We are called, he told the assembly, to come out of a culture of contentment, to commit to a ministry of love and justice.

"Listen—hear—heed," Gilbert closed.

Gilbert's sermon was followed by a choral response: Phyllis Bethel's "Souls A'Gathered," repeating the theme of "listen."

Rev. Buehrens led the commemoration of ministers who had died in the past year by reading a roll call of their names and saying a prayer for their continued presence in our lives. The Service's traditional "For All The Saints" followed.

Rev. Miller, in her benediction, spoke of a call to action in a world in need of our blessing. The chorus sang one more selection, "Deep Peace" by Bill Douglas and then the Service ended with a postlude.

The choir, the Singers of the Living Tradition, consists of UU ministers, students, educators and family members. The choir director was Dr. Toni R. Tollerud, music director at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb, IL. The accompanist was Rev. W. Donald Beaudrealt of the Unitarian Universalist church of Sarasota, FL. The organist was Marcellene Hawk, Director of Music at the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland.

Reported by Jone Johnson Lewis.

Order of Service

Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.
—Parker J. Palmer


Piece Heroique
Cesar Franck


The Reverend Dr. Diane M.W. Miller

Choral Introit

"We Meet on Holy Ground" Tom Benjamin

Call to Worship

Reverend Dr. Michelle W. Bentley

Processional Hymn

"Rank by Rank, Again We Stand" John Huntley Skrine

Congregation rises

Recast by the Reverend Carl G. Seaburg, 1990

Rank by rank, again we stand,
From the four winds gathered hither.
Loud the hallowed walls demand
Whence we come, and how, and whither.
From their stillness breaking clear,
Echoes wake to warn or cheer;
Higher truth from saint and seer
Call to us assembled here.

Ours the years' memorial store,
Honored days and names we reckon,
Days of comrades gone before,
Lives that speak and deeds that beckon.
From the dreaming of the night
To the labors of the day,
Shines their everlasting light,
Guiding us upon our way.

Though the path be hard and long,
Still we strive in expectation;
Join we now their ageless song
One with them in aspiration.
One in name, in honor one,
Guard we well the crown they won;
What they dreamed be ours to do,
Hope their hopes and seal them true.

Lighting of the Chalice

Dr. Esther A. H. Hopkins

A Litany of Remembrance and Recognition

The Reverend Dr. John H. Weston
Adapted from the Reverend Ralph Norman Helverson

Minister: We are gathered in remembrance and recognition of all ministers who seek the light of understanding, who extend the fellowship of freedom, and whose words and deeds remain as a living memorial.

Congregation: We lift up thankful hearts for all ministers who deal out to others their lives passed through the fire of thought.

We remember and recognize ministers who seek wisdom and reach across barriers of belief and doctrine, who affirm in the spirit of truth the healing hand of argument, who serve the needs of others—lift the fallen, uphold the weak, establish community, and preach the living word.

We lift up thankful hearts for all who carry on the tradition of asking questions, who go beyond false stopping places that stifle growth and weaken faith.

We remember and recognize ministers who embody goodness, embrace the love of all people, encompass differences of color and creed, age and sex, and surmount every circumstance of hobbling tradition, to push back ignorance and declare the glory of God and the human spirit.

We lift up thankful hearts for the ministry of beauty, for all who quicken our love of nature and of ourselves, who by line and color, music and ceremony, and the spoken word, help us to rejoice in life.

We remember and recognize every minister who teaches living religion, who helps us to see the limits of unexamined orthodoxies, and while standing in a particular tradition declares the religion universal, and who leads us in the dedication of ourselves to the church of all souls.

We lift up thankful hearts for the ministers who set before us examples to follow. May the work and the purpose of their calling show forth, in those yet to come, the ministry they proclaim.

Welcoming the New Ministers

The Reverend Dr. O. Eugene Pickett

The congregation is asked to hold applause until each group of ministers has been recognized.

Recognition of Those Ministers Who Have Entered into Preliminary Fellowship

The Reverend Ms. Ellen Brandenburg

Recognition of Those Ministers Who Have Attained Final Fellowship

The Reverend Dr. Diane M. W Miller

Extending the Hand of Fellowship

The Reverend Dr. John A. Buehrens
The Reverend Mr. Gary E. Smith
The Reverend Dr. O. Eugene Pickett

Recognition of Those Completing Service in Ministry

The Reverend Mr. David E Hubner

Extending Appreciation and Thanks

The Reverend Dr. John A. Buehrens
The Reverend Dr. O. Eugene Pickett
The Reverend Mr. Gary E. Smith
The Reverend Mr. W Edward Harris
The Reverend Dr. Diane M.W Miller

Offering for the Living Tradition Fund

The Reverend Dr. Ralph Mero


"There Is a Time" Carolyn McDade


"Called! By Whom? To What?" The Reverend Dr. Richard S. Gilbert

Choral Response

"Souls A'Gathered" Phyllis Bethel

Roll Call and Prayer

The Reverend Dr. John A. Buehrens

Congregation rises

Recessional Hymn

"For All the Saints" (Adapted) William Walsham How
Congregation remains standing

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, most holy, be forever blest:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their rock, their shelter, and their might;
Their strength and solace in the well-fought fight;
Thou in the darkness deep their one true light:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the conflict long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph-song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong:
Alleluia, Alleluia!


The Reverend Dr. Diane M. W Miller

Choral Benediction

"Deep Peace" Bill Douglas


Festival Toccata Percy E. Fletcher

Notes on the Service

This is the fifty-sixth annual Service of the Living Tradition of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Ministry, which recognizes those ministers who have been granted preliminary fellowship, achieved final fellowship, or completed full-time service and commemorates those ministers who died between May 24, 2000, and May 21, 2001. The service is prepared and led by the Department of Ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA): Diane Miller, Director of Ministry; Ellen Brandenburg, Ministerial Education Director; David Hubner, Ministerial Development Director; Ralph Mero, Church Staff Finances Director; and John Weston, Ministerial Settlement Director.

The offering received today supports the Living Tradition Fund, which provides UU ministry students and ministers with scholarships, grants, and financial assistance in times of need.

The preacher for the service is the Reverend Dr. Richard S. Gilbert, Parish Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY, since 1970. He has also served churches in Ithaca, NY and Cleveland, OH. Dick received a BS degree from St. Lawrence University in 1958 and an M.Div., from St. Lawrence University Theological School in 1961. In 1977 he received his D.Min. from Colgate Rochester Divinity School and in 1985 he was awarded an STD from Starr King School for the Ministry. A born Universalist, Dick is married to Joyce Timmerman, also a born Universalist. They have two sons, Matthew and Douglas.

Other worship leaders are:

The Reverend Dr. Michelle W Bentley, Minister of the Third Unitarian Church, Chicago, Illinois

The Reverend Dr. O. Eugene Pickett, Chair of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee and President of the UUA 1979-85

The Reverend Dr. John A. Buehrens, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, 1993-2001

The Reverend Mr. Gary E. Smith, President of the UU Ministers Association and Senior Minister of the First Parish in Concord, Massachusetts

The Reverend Mr. W Edward Harris, President of the UU Retired Ministers and Partners Association

Representing the surviving families of ministers who have died during the past year is Dr. Esther A. H. Hopkins, surviving spouse of the Reverend T. Ewell Hopkins.

The organist is Marcellene Hawk, Director of Music, First Unitarian Church of Cleveland.

Our choir, the Singers of the Living Tradition, is composed entirely of UU ministers, students, educators, and their family members. The choir director is Dr. Toni R. Tollerud, Music Director, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of De Kalb, Illinois.

The accompanist is the Rev. W Donald Beaudreault, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota, Florida. Instrumentalists are Kelly Armor and David Sturtevant. The flaming chalice was crafted by Robert Duprey, a member of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Brockton, Massachusetts.

Interpreting at today's service is Kathryn Deal. Ushers for the service are ministers who received Preliminary Fellowship in 2000.

We are grateful to Patricia Frevert for the cover illustration and Suzanne Morgan for the design of this Order of Service, and to the Reverend Douglas Morgan Strong of Plano, Texas, for hall arrangements and for the flaming chalice "stained glass" window used in this service. We would also like to thank Robin Bartlett, Administrative Assistant to the Ministerial Fellowship Committee; Shikarro Sampson, Administrative Assistant to the Director of Ministry; and Chris May, Administrator of the Ministerial Education Office for their help in putting the service together.

A brief reception will be held for all participating ministers and guests in the Auditorium Lobby of the Convention Center after the service.

Ministers Receiving Preliminary Fellowship


Ann Marie Alderman
Gordon Clay Bailey
Patricia M. Brennan
Jennifer Leigh Brower
Helen Carroll
Jodi Lynn Cohen
Jade D'Aquilarive J.D." Benson
Diane Dowgiert
Stephen Epperson
Jack Lee Ford
Kendra Ford
Danielle Audette Fulbright
Donald E. Garrett Jr.
Alicia L.H. Grace
Robert M. Hardies
Christine Edith Hillman
Francesca Grace Hughes
LoraKim Joyner
Cynthia L. Landrum
Arthur R. Lavoie
Barbara McKusick Liscord
Branden Miller
Robert Moore
Sonya Montana
David Ord
Carolyn Patierno
Katherine Stacia Reis
Christine Riley
Mary Steigelman Samuels
Daniel Stephen Schatz
Jennifer Anne Schnayer
Louis Victor Schwebius
Fayre Stephenson
Mark Stringer
David Takahashi-Morris
Jill Ann Terwilliger
Adam J. Tierney
Karen I. Tse
Mary Wellemeyer
Sally Bernida White
Kim Debora Wilson
Martin E. Woulfe
Sara Emma Zimmerman
Robin Landerman Zucker

Community Ministry

Penelope Witte Allderdice
Peggy S. Block
Clare Elizabeth Butterfield
Karen Elizabeth Day
Patricia M. Franz
Catherine A. Ferrari
Paula R. Gable
M. Jean Heriot

Ministry of Religious Education

Kelly Jane Crocker
Cinnamon Daniels
Constance L. Grant
Virginia L.Jarocha-Ernst
Alice Ivy Syltie
Judith Ann Tomlinson

Ministers Receiving Final Fellowship


Rachel Karin Anderson
Beverly Morrison Boke
Mark William Christian
Gail Collins-Ranadive
Vicky Combs
Katie Lee Crane
Brian Eslinger
Margo J. Ewers
Duane H. Fickeisen
Robert Flanders
John E Gaffney
Emily Lauren Gage
William Gupton
Craig Dell Hirshberg
Barbara L. Hoag
Robert T. Hughes
Kathy Huff
Roger Dennis Jones
Daniel L. King
Pamela Langston-Daley
Elizabeth Anne Lerner
Gail Lindsay Marriner
David Voyle McFarland
Eric H. Meter
Yvonne V Miller
Michael DeWitt Morran
Martha Frances Niebanck
Richard A. Nugent
Nurya Love Parish
Elaine Beth Peresluha
Cynthia Louise Prescott
Paul B. Rasor
John Rex
Elena L. Rigg
Katie Stein Sather
Susan M. Smith
Karen Stoyanoff
Scott Tayler
Diane Dolle Teichert
Enid A. Virago
William Welch


Patricia Jimenez
Deborah Raible
Kathy S. Sage

Ministry of Religious Education

Silvia R. Behrend
Linda Olson Peebles
Kimi Sue Riegel

Ministers Completing Full-Time Ministries

Elinor Artman
Roger Cowan
Nancy Crumbine
Arthur E. Curtis
Judy Deutsch
Barbara Elise Edgecombe
Sylvia A. Falconer
Neat W Ferris
E David Fisher
L. Annie Foerster
Charles A. Gaines
W Bradford Greeley
Robert W Haney
Barbara Elizabeth Hollerorth
Marjorie Sams Montgomery
Rudolph Nemser
Emily Palmer
Connie Pirnie Sternberg
Robert Coleman Swain
William George Wagner
Eugene R. Widrick
Richard Weston-Jones

Ministers Deceased

Elizabeth Holden Baker
Horace E. Colpitts
Wallace Grant Fiske
William E. Gardner
Richard Spencer Hasty
Byrd Willard Helligas
T. Ewell Hopkins
Margaret Cary Kauffman
Jack Alvin Kent
Richard William Knost
George W Marshfield
Harry Chamberlain Meserve
Robert L'Hommedieu Miller
John Whitman Sears
Virginia Marie Stephens
Harry Adam Thor
George Hunston Williams