Karen G. Johnston

A smiling Rev. Karen Johnston

Rev. Karen G. Johnston (she/her/hers) is the Senior Minister at First Unitarian Universalist Society Burlington in Vermont. Before becoming a minister, she spent 20+ years as a clinical social worker. Buddhist meditation, her befriending death practice, and the Work That Reconnects all sustain her spiritually.

Karen is the founder of Date with Death Club, a secular, justice-affirming, and enlivening curriculum to explore mortality in community, which she sometimes leads and actively encourages others to bring to their communities.

From Karen G. Johnston

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How might we make our way through this strange and scary time called COVID-19, resilient and pointed toward collective liberation?

Feature | By Karen G. Johnston | June 1, 2020 | From UU World
Tagged as: Gratitude, Pain, Spiritual Practice

May the invitation of prayer and meditation embrace this holy house and each precious person, moving each and all to connect with a sense of affirmation— sound, movement, or silence— in whatever way your body knows to be true. [chime] Spirit of Life and Love, our hearts are overflowing with...

Prayer | By Karen G. Johnston | May 5, 2020 | From WorshipWeb
Tagged as: 2nd Principle (Justice, Equity, & Compassion), 4th Principle (Truth & Meaning), Community, Courage, Justice, Meaning, Pain, Politics, Purpose, Unitarian Universalism, Vision

What spiritual practices are available to help us grow our resilience and point us towards collective liberation? Learn about the four-point Spiral from the Work That Reconnects (WTR).

By Karen G. Johnston | March 27, 2020 | From LeaderLab
Tagged as: #COVID19, Covenant Groups & Small Group Ministry, Nourishing the Spirit

Surround yourself with skillful teachers. Let them teach you, but don't let them do it for you. That learning is yours to do.

Reflection | By Karen G. Johnston | January 22, 2020 | From Braver/Wiser
Tagged as: 4th Principle (Truth & Meaning), Acceptance, Arts & Music, Beauty, Brokenness, Creativity, Direct Experience, Growth, Humanism, Prophetic Words & Deeds, Secular

The word liturgy is a fancy word meaning the formulation of a religious service. Its etymology tells us that it means “the work of the people.” In many Unitarian Universalist contexts, the verb worship is intransitive. We do not worship something or someone. We claim the act of worship as...

Leader Resource | By Karen G. Johnston | January 5, 2020 | From WorshipWeb
Tagged as: Grace, Leadership, Living Our Faith, Playfulness, Purpose, Teamwork, Unitarian Universalism

With a single generous gesture from my older child, her sister's belief in Santa stayed intact that year.

Reflection | By Karen G. Johnston | December 4, 2019 | From Braver/Wiser
Tagged as: Christmas Eve / Christmas, Direct Experience, Family, Generations, Generosity, Parents, Prophetic Words & Deeds, Tradition

Let us be thankful and full of praise to be in the company of those who came before.

Opening | By Karen G. Johnston | October 22, 2019 | From WorshipWeb
Tagged as: Community, Connections, Direct Experience, Generations, Gratitude, History, Prophetic Words & Deeds, Vision

I call the tall bush on my back patio “Burning Bush” because in autumn its leaves are a fiery red. All winter long I overlooked three uninhabited nests inside of it. For months and months I could have perceived—but didn’t—what was in plain sight. ...

Reflection | By Karen G. Johnston | April 24, 2019 | From Braver/Wiser
Tagged as: Anti-Oppression, Buddhism, Direct Experience, Earth, Humanism, Identity, Imagination, Nature, Searching, Secular

Surrender is the last thing, often the only thing, available. And so we give ourselves to it. We fear it is our end. Sometimes—with grace or luck—we find it is our liberation.

Reflection | By Karen G. Johnston | January 23, 2019 | From Braver/Wiser
Tagged as: 2nd Principle (Justice, Equity, & Compassion), 4th Principle (Truth & Meaning), 7th Principle (Interconnected Web), Animals, Direct Experience, Earth-Centered, Fear, Freedom, Imagination, Interdependence, Ministry, Nature, Salvation

Humans make maps of stars, choosing some stars, ignoring others, to project our imaginations onto the heavens. These maps shift over time, across cultures. Names change for the same assemblage of bright points: Drinking Gourd, Big Dipper, Plough, Lost Hunters [1], Saptarishi [2]. Humans make...

Affirmation | By Karen G. Johnston | December 6, 2018 | From WorshipWeb
Tagged as: 3rd Principle (Acceptance & Spiritual Growth), 7th Principle (Interconnected Web), Commitment, Community, Earth, Earth-Centered, Imagination, Leadership, Meaning, Nature, Stewardship, Wonder

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