SETTING: After the previous evening's very festive and
celebratory 50th Anniversary Dinner and Party with upwards of
200 attendees (at nearby Riderwood Village), many of the same
folk came to church ready to continue the good energy and fond
reminiscences, despite the drizzly weather.
The Meeting House filled up earlier than usual, with a dozen
or so people sitting in the choir section (even though the choir
was not to perform) and another dozen participants and spouses
seated on the opposite side up front. There were only a few isolated
seats left unclaimed in the entire room, and numerous people moved
about, preparing for the reception, ushering, etc.
The members' art exhibit continued to glow on the walls and
outstanding scrapbooks of the church's history inspired all who
perused them in the lobby. The service started right on time (10
am), but the program unfolded into fully an hour and 45 minutes,
which most attendees seemed willing and able to endure, given
the diversity of fun, interesting and moving presentations.
PRELUDE Nocturne in C# minor F. Chopin
Deni Foster, pianist [who played for the whole service,
often with Jeri Holloway, clarinet]
WELCOME & ANNOUNCEMENTS Nancy Boardman, worship
OPENING WORDS Barbara W. & Jaco B. ten Hove,
BARBARA: Good Morning and welcome. Today's service is
the second of four services celebrating the 50th anniversary of
this wonderful church. Last Sunday we celebrated the Artistic
Spirit of Paint Branch with gusto. Next Sunday will focus on Social
Action. And on Nov. 7, Bill Sinkford, the president of the Unitarian
Universalist Association, will be in our pulpit for the Finale.
This service is called "Founders Day Goldmine" for today
we recognize and celebrate the movers and shakers who, over the
past fifty years, have helped shape this "golden" congregation
into what it is today.
JACO: We are particularly excited that three former
ministers could join us to participate this morning. Since its
founding in 1954, this church has had seven ministers, and all
but two are here. John Burciaga, who was interim minister
from 1998-99, just ahead of our arrival, currently serves a UU
Church in Phoenix and has recently married. He sends best wishes
and regrets that he could not be with us today.
BARBARA: On a sadder note, the first called and settled
minister of this congregation, David Osborn, died this
past summer. His wife Janet Osborn has been visited
recently by Paint Branch friends and she sends her love and greetings.
A short statement about David and his ministry is printed in your
bulletin today [and follows at the end of this text]. I hope you
will read it and remember him for his important work not only
as the first minister of this church, but also his service to
other congregations and to Unitarian Universalism.
JACO: We felt it important to honor David Osborn
in a memorable way this morning. There is only one first minister
called to a church, and David served here in that capacity honorably
and well. And so we will light a special candle in his memory
that will stay lit throughout this service, to remind us of his
presence even in death. (Barbara lights the candle in silence)
BARBARA: As we enter into worship this morning, may
we be reminded that congregational life is always a mixture of
joy and triumph, sadness and wonder, life and death. It is good
to be together in celebration, memory, and worship.
Speaking of memory, since we're looking back in time on this
Founders Day, let us pause now to non-verbally intone a couple
of Golden Oldies some of you might remember
INTONATION [JACO on guitar, plucking out melodies to
"Pipeline" and "Secret Agent Man."]
FLAMING CHALICE DEDICATION Kathleen Davis, worship
Thank you Jaco for some nice nostalgia. I'm going to ask you
to get a little more nostalgic.Let's go back to 1954.
In 1954 everybody Loved Lucy, the computer language Fortran
was invented, Brown vs. the Board of Education changed the country,
Joseph McCarthy was finally censored by the Senate, and the NY
Giants won the World Series.
In October of 1954, a group of Unitarians made the decision
to form the College Park Unitarian Center. This was one of several
churches which sprang from All Souls Church in Washington DC.
Two months later, in December of that year, I was born in Washington
In 1960 the name of the church became Paint Branch Unitarian
Church. Just as my parents provided shelter for me in our home
during my childhood, the newly formed congregation provided a
building for this fledgling church to grow into in 1965. We were
10 years old.
The church building filled each week with congregants eager
to think, ask questions and grow in community. I was also asking
questions, although not so much of a spiritual nature at that
point. But my parents lovingly answered them and provided me with
the tools to be inquisitive and to grow strong in mind, body and
As the years passed and we aged, the congregation of this church
cared for their beloved building. Years of maintenance, cleaning,
sprucing up for the holidays. I wish I had a congregation to spruce
me up for the holidays. Recently the sanctuary was looking a little
wan. A group of volunteers painted it shiny and new. Lately I've
been feeling a little wan. I wish I had a congregation to make
me shiny and new.
The windows have been cleaned over the last few months and
are much easier to see through now. My eyes have been getting
fuzzier lately. I wish I had a congregation to make my eyes easier
to see through. Maybe to pay for Lasik surgery. The deck was sagging
at one point, but the congregation replaced boards, firmed up
the underpinnings and stained it for a more even color. I've noticed
parts of me are sagging as well and I have some uneven spotting
on my hands. I wish I had a congregation to firm up my underpinnings
and even out my color.
In times of joy and sorrow, through the devastation of fire,
for weddings and memorials, the congregation came together to
celebrate, to support, to grieve, to mend. In my life I have had
occasion to celebrate, to grieve, to need mending. I have been
devastated. I wish I had a congregation to-
But wait, I do. I do have a congregation. Well sister,
here we are at 50, with our congregation, and we're doin'
I light our chalice today for the church that is a building
and so much more. For the congregation that cares for this church
and for each other. For the church that is Paint Branch.
HYMN #358 Rank by Rank Again We Stand
OUR STORY: 1954-71
[Script and Intro by JACO:]
"From the four winds [we have indeed] gathered hither"-with
some of you returning to this property and seeing this
building for the first time, perhaps, even as the older space
next door undergoes a radical and exciting renovation.
"Honored days and names we reckonlives that speak and
deeds that beckon"-lives of ours and those of friends now
gone-all have helped establish a strong congregational community
that now steps toward its second half century.
Some years ago, Paint Branch pillar Marj Donn wrote
these words, also appropriate today:
"A church is a storehouse of everyone's stories.
Each person's life cycle moves at its own pace;
Yet milestones were meant to be shared with each other:
We need other people to help celebrate."
And that's certainly what we're about in this month of gatherings
to recall, renew and rejoice together. Held within the five, golden
decades of this congregation's life-cycle are many stirring stories
of the human community that animated first the College Park Unitarian
Center and later Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. Your
Bulletin contains a Timeline overview of this group's movement
from then to now, as we come eagerly to this significant milestone,
which we began to celebrate last weekend, exactly 50 years after
its first service on Oct. 17, 1954.
In their first months together, the College Park Unitarians
included three charter members who are still active with us, and
we honor them by name. We acknowledge fondly your continuous dedication
to local liberal religion over the past five decades: Clarence
Newell, known to most as Jince, and Forest and Agnes
Williams. Thank you, Jince, Forest and Agnes.
Other returning charter members, visiting from their current
UU congregations, are also with for last night's gala affair and
this morning: Almeda and Randall Wrenn, of the UU
Congregation of the Outer Banks in Kitty Hawk, NC and Mary
Bailey, of the nearby Leisure World Community. It's wonderful
to have you with us as well. And now, I'd like to recognize any
offspring of the first generation of members who are among us
today. You most likely spent some formative years connected to
this congregation and we welcome you back heartily.
The centerpiece of our service today will briefly-and rapidly-outline,
in turn, four eras of this congregation's journey so far, and
then invite representative players to offer more personal snapshots
of each period's story. The short historical summaries come largely
from a fuller treatment that has been compiled in two books, covering
the first 40 years, which are in the process of being combined
and updated into one Golden volume by Patty Daukantis.
But today we get to relish some of the stories that anchor
that history in lives that speak to us personally.
[Part 1, NANCY:]
Jince, Forest and Agnes and the other early College Park Unitarians
probably remember sitting in rented quarters at the University
of Maryland, listening to Sunday sermons by A. Powell Davies,
the great minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in the District.
By technological methods that were ambitious for that day, his
addresses were piped in via telephone wire to stimulate the early
years of this congregation. Forest was one of the group's first
Also attending during that first fall of the College Park Unitarian
Center were a couple of young adults, Ruth Dawson, a student
at the University, and David Phillips, a recent graduate.
(Ruth's parents, Emily and Walker Dawson were charter members
and later would write the 25 year history of the congregation.)
Ruth and David hit it off and were married the next June by A.
Powell Davies at All Souls Church, so their relationship is also
50 years old now.
They fondly recall Al and Frances Herling, who were
also charter members and longtime pillars. Especially vivid for
Ruth is the memory of Al playing the Center's portable pump organ.
Ruth and David have been long time members at our neighboring
congregation, Davies Memorial UU Church in Camp Springs, and are
not only with us today, but also made a further name for themselves
on the dance floor last night!
After a couple of years the Unitarian Center incorporated to
become the College Park Unitarian Church, and the Annual Meeting
of 1956 recorded 133 members, plus 128 students in the "School
of Religion," with 20 babies on the "cradle roll."
They impressively managed this large a religious education program
in rented space for 10 years, led first by Betty Larson,
whose memory is the focus of a ceremony after today's service,
and then Marge Owens, who turned it over to Lillian
Lee in 1964.
The group also wanted a minister of their own. Forest was on
the search committee that brought David Osborn here with
his wife Janet in 1957. David served well during times
of energy and turmoil through the 1960s. He was well loved and
well known for his stimulating sermons and a commitment to social
action. His career took him elsewhere in 1971 and we were saddened
to learn of his death this past August. Please refer to a panel
in your Bulletin that honors him and Janet.
Buoyed by the new ministry among them, the congregation built
a parsonage for the Osborns and bought the land we are
on right now, both during the 1958-59 church year. They had evidently
learned some important lessons about how to fund-raise from earlier,
smaller projects, such as the campaign to pay for a large coffee
urn that would brew fresh java on Sunday mornings. (This was desired
to replace a dedicated but far inferior thermos brigade.)
The coffee urn was successfully financed by sales of vanilla,
of all things, but, as you might imagine, pushing this product
was a bit of a challenge, and quite a lot of it was left over.
So they held a contest to invent creative new uses for vanilla,
some of which included "shampooing, washing socks, and anointing
In the early 1960s, anticipating their own church home in the
woods by the flowing Paint Branch creek, the congregation voted
to change names, and adopted its current association with our
natural watery neighbor, as suggested by Almeda Wrenn.
The building next door, first inhabited in February, 1965, won
an architectural award soon thereafter and is now almost completely
re-modeled following a nasty furnace fire last December. In early
2005, exactly 40 years after it first opened, we expect to have
a rededication ceremony and probably rename it as well.
In the late 1960s, to be honest, there were also financial
struggles. The new and growing capital fund-that would have built
an already-designed companion building-had to be used for operating
and emergency expenses. As that fund was dwindling, the congregation
also voted ambitiously to invest about half of it, $10,000, in
a wider UU project-Black Affairs Council bonds, which were collected
from many sources to support "black business ventures that
also had a liberal social thrust." The culmination of these
economic factors was a realization that further building plans
would have to be indefinitely deferred.
Many other important things happened in this first era, notably
the growth of music, arts, and social action programs, about which
we'll hear more shortly. Those were heady times, in American culture
and in the early life of our church. We honor all of who joined
or served or grew up here between 1954-1971 and helped blazed
a trail for this congregation in its important early years!
Now, let us hear from one of the College Park Unitarians, Lowell
Owens, who still sustains so much of our congregational life,
from mowing the lawn, to overseeing the current construction next
door, to leading the weekly Religious Quest discussion group.
Thank you, Lowell, for your steadfast dedication to this community
REFLECTIONS Lowell Owens, member since 1958
When Marge [Owens] and I moved to this area in
1958 we looked in the Yellow Pages for the nearest Unitarian church
and found the College Park Unitarian Church. "Building Double
E" was harder to find, but when we did we were pleased to
find a thriving congregation of about 75 people-with a full RE
program and a nursery. The latter was important to us because
we had two small babies.
Betty Larson, the RE Director, immediately recruited
Marj to teach the 6th grade class. I joined the choir, a small
but spirited group of about 10 voices, which included Janet
Osborn, Brinley Lewis and Vanner Larson, husband
of Betty. We rehearsed in the home of Dorothy and Brin Lewis
because they had a piano. In Building EE there was only a little
portable pump organ that you pumped with your feet, not an electronic
one. Brin alternated with Al Herling and Jay Conant
as accompanist and managed to give a little direction to the choir
as well. It would be another two years, 1960, before the congregation
saw fit to purchase an upright piano and to hire a full-time accompanist.
A major thrust of the congregation in the late 50s and throughout
the 60s was social action. The Fellowship for Social Action had
been organized a few months before we arrived, and Marj and I
both joined. Roy Hart was Chair, and we met in the Royal
Hart Photography Studio in Riverdale.
I still remember the project then underway. It concerned the
Prince George's County Hospital. You see, the hospital had two
maternity wards, one for white mothers and another for black mothers-some
distance away. The nursery was near the white mothers' ward, and
every few hours their babies were brought to them for nursing.
Black babies, however, were not brought to their mothers-the black
maternity ward was too far away! That meant that black mothers
did not have the choice of whether to nurse their babies. Yes,
this really was the Dark Ages.
As in all our projects, the Fellowship for Social Action notified
the hospital administrator of our concerns and asked for a meeting,
face to face. And as would be the case in other projects, the
policy makers assured us that their egregious policy was not racist-but
rather dictated by such practical considerations as distance,
in this case, or economics, or whatever. Nevertheless, we asked
that they change their policy and let them know that whatever
decision they arrived at would be widely publicized. They shortly
decided to change their policy.
This approach proved to be surprisingly successful with other
projects we took on. On one occasion we threatened an area-wide
Unitarian boycott of giving to the area-wide United Givers Fund-because
they funded charities that discriminated on the basis of race.
This brought a heated response from one of our members, Al
Herling, who was on the United Givers board and who felt we
were taking the wrong approach. But a short while later, United
Givers Fund saw fit to change their policy.
We also lobbied for legislation, at the county and state levels,
that would ban discrimination in housing, employment, and public
accommodations. We met with legislators and testified at hearings.
All these efforts were remarkably successful. Of course, a part
of it was the times. Change was sweeping the country-it was the
60s-but we definitely felt that our little group was one of the
Leaders of the Social Action group after Roy Hart, included
Marj Owens, Betty Allen, myself and Ken Stevens,
who I think is here with us this morning.
I have many wonderful memories of this congregation in the
60s, but the most powerful ones are associated with the Fellowship
for Social Action. Thank you.
OUR STORY: 1971-91
[Part 2, KATHLEEN:]
Lowell was on the search committee that helped PBUC call its
second minister, Rick Kelley, who will be our next speaker.
He came to us in the fall of 1971 and retired 20 years later.
In-between, the church thrived in many ways, in program and administration.
A financial rebound led to paying off the mortgages on the
Parsonage and the RE/Office Building, which set the stage for
another run at eventually constructing a second facility on this
site. Ken Lee first led the creation of a M.O.R.E. Committee
(which stood for Maintenance, Ongoing Renovation and Expansion),
and later there were more explicit teams that paved the way, as
it were, for the Meeting House.
The 70s were a time of increasing gender consciousness, and
church life reflected that, for both men and women. In particular,
the first Women's Center of its kind in the entire state was established
in Room 9 next door, the first room off the deck. This resource
center was led from the beginning by Mary Ann Kelley, and
the room was ultimately named for her, now fondly know as the
MAK Room, which will very soon become our new main office.
Also in the consciousness of Paint Branchers those days were
state legislative activism, sponsored by an effective advocacy
group called LegiCUUM, and the possibilities of intentional community,
stirred by Nightwinds. This was the name of a loose but significant
grouping that provided room for both societal explorations and
mutual support, lasting until late in the 70s.
Many other notable beginnings in this era included the following
institutions that are still among us today:
a ministerial internship program,
Sunday services all summer,
the Montessori School rental; the Poetry Group,
the "We Care" Committee (led by Lillian Lee),
our connection with the Prince Georges County Community Ministry,
the all-church weekend retreat,
the Auction; the addition of "Universalist" to our church
the Daytimers group,
what became known as Capital Area Interweave, and
the Third Wednesday Hyattsville Unitarian Luncheon Klub
(affectionately known as TWedHULK).
Meanwhile, Marj Donn was Director of Religious Education
for most of these two decades and Bob Holloway was Music
Director for all of them. Church Administrators Emily Nutku
and then Meribel Blanchard expanded that role during this
era, which coincided with the advent of more accessible computer
technology. Lots of good lay leadership continued to keep things
We honor all staff and members, who sustained this congregation
during a couple of dynamic decades between 197191!
Rick Kelley helped numerous ministerial interns improve
their craft, and he deserves credit for beginning the Christmas
Eve service here. He also helped Paint Branch celebrate its 25-year
Silver Jubilee Anniversary in 1979. In his sermons, Rick discussed
a wide range of topics, religious and otherwise, including personal
problems, social issues, and our religious heritage. He held meetings
on marriage issues and seminars on death and dying. He became
acquainted with the young people of the congregation and got involved
with the wider UU movement in this region.
His last months before retirement also brought the completion
of the Meeting House, with a stirring week of Dedication events
just before summer, 1991. Rick was honored with the title of Minister
Emeritus and the large room next door where he had conducted services
for 20 years was named after him, the Kelley Room.
Of course, this brief intro hardly does justice to the fullness
of his long ministry among us, but let it serve nonetheless to
prepare the way for his reflections from this 50th anniversary
angle. Thank you for your service to our community, Rick
REFLECTIONS Richard Kelley, minister emeritus
Paint Branch is 50! Gone through 50 years of permutations and
perturbations, even conflagrations!-ever evolving and still going
strong! With many of you founders still active and enthusiastic
and committed! It's wonderful to celebrate this 50th anniversary
with you. It's a tribute to the power of religious commitment.
It demonstrates just what liberal religious people can create
and sustain-when they are determined!
I have an anniversary, too, that I should mention. This coming
January, it will be 50 years since I was "fellowshipped"
as a Unitarian minister and began my service in its ministry.
And I want you to know that of those 50 years, the 20 years I
spent here-as your minister, serving you, living amongst you-those
were the richest, most satisfying years of my ministry. The experience
of being your minister far exceeded any of my expectations for
ministry. For that, I shall be forever grateful to you as a congregation.
Listening to that summary of the events and high-lights of
those 20 years sort of amazes me. We undertook so much in those
years, initiated so many different activities and avenues and
experiences, some of which endured, and others that fulfilled
the needs of the time and then passed away. We explored so much
of what a church community can achieve when it opens itself to
I came here at a time of great turmoil-turmoil in the society,
turmoil in my personal life, and turmoil in this congregation,
too. A great many lives here were in transition and in upheaval,
in terrible need of a sustaining, nurturing spiritual community.
And we sought to fulfill that need, to provide that essential
community-through a variety of ways. I remember a series of Friday
evenings when I was first here, when we initiated a whole series
of discussions exploring ways in which people could meet the deep
needs of their lives.
I remember those evenings when there were people meeting in
virtually every room of the Education building, seeking together
for answers to the problems of their lives, exploring all kinds
of different possibilities, talking of everything from "How
to Fight Fair-With Your Spouse" to the potential of Communal
Living. And believe me, for a minister, trying to keep on top
of all that ferment could be terribly hectic! Yet, those were
also exhilarating, exciting times for all of us-times when many
found potentials in their living that they'd not known before,
new directions in their existence.
And out of that turmoil, I think the Paint Branch community
found itself, found a deeper sharing of spiritual life together
than they'd had before. So there was a period of years there that
followed, as I characterized in my own mind, a period when the
church seemed to kind of "lay back," you might say,
to lay back and enjoy what they had found together. A quiet time
of sharing and fulfillment.
And then, in the latter part of those two decades, things here
kind of "came alive" again. People started saying: "Let's
do something with this church!" "Let's have something
more." And as you heard, that's when the M.O.R.E. Committee
came into existence, seeking ways to have just that. And out of
that came the thrust to build this Meeting House, and so complete
the vision of a total church facility-the vision undertaken so
very many years ago. And through a gigantic effort on everyone's
part, we actually achieved it! We actually got it up and finished-even
though we had to leave the lower floor incomplete.
And I am honored that you had me as your minister throughout
those rich and wonderful decades. I'm gratified, too, to see others
come and take up the work of the church, to lead it into new and
satisfying ways, to find fresh and exciting avenues of accomplishment
for this vital community.
I hope, too, that we are celebrating here a Beginning, the
Beginning of another 50 years of spiritual growth and community
service for Paint Branch. I know you hold the potential for so
much more, and that you will fulfill it. So, I'll watch you from
afar, and delight in your ever growing greatness, and marvel at
your successes. May the next 50 years be wondrous ones for you
OUR STORY: 1991-98
[Part 3, NANCY:]
After Rick retired in 1991, Virginia Knowles provided
good ministerial leadership during the interim year. She decided
to complete her full time career with that term and soon returned
to Paint Branch to be a member ever since. Rod Thompson
was called to serve as the next settled minister, and he will
offer his reflections in a moment. He and his wife Mary
[Thompson] settled into the parsonage and helped this next
era of congregational activity unfold.
The first half of the 90s were certainly a period of significant
transition, not only adding a new minister and this whole
new building, but all other program staff positions changed as
well. Marj Donn finished 16 important years as Director
of Religious Education and passed the reins to the latest member
to step into that position, Abby Crowley. Music Director
Bob Holloway and Accompanist Judy Olson completed
26 and 18 years of talented service, respectively. So Abby and
Rod were joined by new Music Director Dan Abraham and pianist
Thomas Pandolfi to continue exploring the possibilities
for worship in this space.
Meanwhile, we began participating in the Warm Night homeless
shelter program each winter, and started a long relationship of
support with Beacon House, a neighborhood center in DC. Also,
we started the tradition of monthly Special Collections for worthy
causes, such as today's for the UU-United Nations Office. For
a few Januaries there was a fruitful collaboration with Sojourner
Truth UU Congregation in DC and UUs in Bowie that produced inspiring
commemorations of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
Centered at Paint Branch was the region's leading chapter of
UUs for Lesbian and Gay Concerns (later called Capital Area Interweave),
notably organized by Ed Kobee and Al Usack. So the
church hosted a continental Convocation of lesbians, gays, bisexuals
and friends, and soon became an official "Welcoming Congregation."
We also hosted an annual UU Joseph Priestley District meeting.
National Public Radio even discovered Paint Branch and interviewed
church members for an "All Things Considered" piece
on Earth-centered spirituality.
During this era, Paint Branch happily held its first ordination,
of member Thea Nietfield, who is with us today from her
current ministry with the UUs in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Rod Thompson
and a strong group of lay leaders organized a concerted series
of workshops called "Decisions for Growth," which helped
clarify a set of goals for the congregation to aim at, including
a successful debt-reduction campaign and the regular inclusion
of children in the early portion of Sunday services.
We honor the first generation of Meeting House Paint Branchers,
who strode with this congregation into the 90s!
In 1998, Rod was called away to a different kind of ministry,
to be part of the Unitarian Universalist Association's Field Staff,
as Consultant for the Ohio-Meadville District, a position he continues
to enjoy. As they prepared to move from here, the Thompsons donated
a sizable portion of their home library to the church, indicative
of their generosity and good will. Thank you for your service
to this community, Rod
REFLECTIONS Rod Thompson, former minister
(I started by looking up at the ceiling and commenting that
in spite of the rain outside it was not raining inside, and those
who remember our struggle with the leaky roof laughed wonderfully.)
I bring you greetings and congratulations from your 5400 brothers
and sisters in the Ohio-Meadville District, 46 congregations in
Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and one in New York, where
for the past 6 and half years I have served as their District
Consultant. I'm sure by now they are getting tired of hearing
about you and this church in my stories and examples.
My first memory of this congregation was actually during my
Pre-Candidating Week. I remember sitting around the Lee's living
room (I think) and having to interrupt the Search Committee in
order to answer their questions. They did love to talk to each
other. They had put Announcements on the Congregational Survey
in the hopes that it would come out low on the list and they could
be minimized. The Announcements came in at Number 3! I see you
still have lots of Announcements!
As I looked at the calendar, this would be just about the time
at Abby [Crowley] would bring out her caldron and
high pointy hat and we'd talk about Halloween. Of course, the
CUUPS [Covenant of UU Pagans] group would then remind us that
the real holiday at this time of the year is Samhain.
And later we'd celebrate Thanksgiving together as we passed
the ceremonial pipe around the circle and we shared what we were
each thankful for that year. Especially this year I would be thankful
for this congregation and its people.
The December holiday highlight for me was always the Christmas
Candle-light Service. That is the thing I miss the most in my
present position, seeing your faces a-glow with candlelight. It
made my holiday for me. Then there would be the Easter Flower
Communion, culminating in sending off our bubbles into the universe.
I remember very clearly the Decisions for Growth sessions that
were mentioned and the work that went into the creation of your
Mission Statement, which still appears on the Order of Service.
Although that is reassuring and brings back great memories, the
Consultant in me wants to suggest that the time has probably come
to revisit it some time soon.
And finally, I'd like to thank you for the privilege of being
invited into your lives, in times of both joy and sorrow. There
is no greater honor for a minister than to be welcomed in. Thank
you for being who you are. Please don't change.
(Although I forgot it at the end, I had intended to invite
everyone to say with me the African word that we learned from
the Sojourner Truth Congregation and became a part of all of our
serves together: Ashe'.)
HYMN #368 Now Let Us Sing
OUR STORY: 1998-2004
[Part 4, KATHLEEN:]
Rod passed the flame of Paint Branch ministry to an interim
colleague, John Burciaga, who ably assisted a year's worth
of growth and adjustment. Near the end of that time, active lay
leader-turned-minister, Mark Hayes, was ordained here and
went on to serve the UUs in State College, PA, a ministry that
continues to blossom.
Then, in 1999, we called as Co-ministers Jaco ten
Hove and Barbara Wells (who has since taken "ten
Hove" as her last name). This was the first "clergy
couple" to ever serve here and Barbara became the first settled
woman minister. Their arrival and worship style sparked an important
conversation about theological diversity.
Abby Crowley, who served our church so well as Director
of Religious Education, chose to move on in new, full-time directions
in her education career (and we will hear her reflections on this
latest era in a moment). So Natalie Fenimore joined us
as Director of what we now call "Religious Education and
Exploration," with a commitment to bringing the children
and youth more deeply into the life of the church.
We also said a fond good-bye to Music Director Daniel Abraham,
who left to teach full time elsewhere, so Kerry Krebill
served a memorable year as interim choir director. Pianist Thomas
Pandolfi also left us, and rather suddenly. But fortunately,
an excellent pianist named David Chapman came in during
the transition and proved to be multi-talented. David took on
both the Pianist and Music Director positions, although you won't
see him in action this morning, since we have other wonderful
musicians performing today. (He was very much featured last weekend,
This latest era included more than its share of trauma, too.
We held onto each other in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks,
also helping to host a huge memorial service for a local family
of four killed in the Pentagon crash. Two Septembers later, Hurricane
Isabel canceled our All-Church retreat and left the RE/Office
Building without power for eight days.
Three months after that, the infamous furnace fire really
put our venerable building out of commission. Now, almost 11 very
inconvenient months later, after outstanding leadership and response
from the congregation, we are preparing to move back in next month,
to enjoy extensive-and exciting-renovations next door. Among other
changes, the remodeled building will have church offices upstairs
and a geo-thermal heating and cooling system throughout. Meanwhile,
ongoing repairs to the deck and steeple, while short of traumatic,
perhaps, have been nonetheless demanding.
Along the way in this era, Barbara and Jaco launched important
programs that trained Worship Associates and Pastoral Care Associates
to take on significant lay leadership roles. We went to a single
Sunday service in order to have small group programming afterwards,
called Enrichment Hour. We started holding Festive First Friday
dinners and social time for all ages. The board of trustees went
on annual retreats together and we even received a six-figure
bequest from the estate of long-time member Frank Roland.
And many of the aforementioned groups-begun in previous eras-kept
on keepin' on, as the Paint Branch spirit and energy has danced
into the new millennium and continues to stir us in creative,
inclusive and inspirational ways.
Member Abby Crowley was a significant part of our movement
into the 21st century and will now reflect on this era leading
right up to the 50th anniversary. Thank you, Abby, for your service,
contributions and comments
REFLECTIONS Abby Crowley, member &
former director of Religious Education
Every year, one of the most potentially difficult and anxiety
provoking jobs for a religious educator is recruiting to fill
the many teaching and youth advising positions needed for the
program. One mid June, I was getting ready to go away to General
Assembly and I had one last teacher position to fill. Being the
task oriented individual you know me to be, my impulse was to
use the last few days to make a bunch of phone calls to fill the
position with a willing warm body. It was for the 4-year-old class-they're
adorable! Certainly I could find a twistable arm. Fighting my
nature, I told myself, "No. Just go to GA and let the position
just sit a while and see what occurs."
I went to GA, and, shortly after my return, was sitting in
my office one warm late June day. As was often the case in the
summer, I was alone, and had not seen another human being all
day. At about 4 pm, as I was packing up to go home, Rene McDonald
walked in. We exchanged inquiries about our summer plans, and
Rene shared that she had been spending time with her granddaughter
and that it had made her become interested in teaching Sunday
School. "What age to you want to work with," I asked.
"Oh," Rene said, "I thought maybe my granddaughter's
age. She's 4!"
This memory sums up Paint Branch during the last 10 years.
Whenever there has been a need, someone has stepped forward to
meet the challenge. Four interim search committees, one for an
interim minister, one that brought us Barbara and Jaco, and two
more that brought us Natalie and later David. 30-40 teachers every
year, about 85% of who had taught for two or more years and several
who have had bonafide teaching careers at Paint Branch. People
who could put together a memorial service reception or a few hot
meals for someone in need at a moment's notice. Children and adults
who would race to sign up to prepare a week's worth of dinners
for the Warm Nights shelter. People who provided leadership over
the decade for the cause of social justice for those who are lesbian
and gay. People who showed up week after week to pull up old rotten
deck boards and lay down new ones. People who gave of their time
and talents at Beacon House. People who, without pay or much recognition,
put together enrichment hours or Festive Fridays or Sunday morning
coffee or the newsletter week after week, month after month. People
who planned and struggled to respond to the aftermath of the fire
and come to consensus on the best course of action for the church.
Good people, committed people, generous people. Paint Branch,
for me, is about the people.
And every time we experienced the pain and anguish of loss-the
retirement of our long time music director Bob Holloway,
the resignations of our beloved minister Rod Thompson,
music directors Dan Abraham and Kerry Krebill, and
pianist Thomas Pandolfi, deaths of the spouses of several
of our members, the horror of 9-11, the anxiety of the sniper
attacks and later the war, and our devastating fire-we came together
to share our strength, love, and hope, and, as Rod used to say,
it was good to be together. I remember that on 9/11 we all just
wound up at the church that evening-we just knew that we had to
be together. It was where we belonged.
It has been decades full of both joy and challenge. For many
of us, we have struggled to raise children in a world where the
din of negative influences sometimes seems to drown out our voices.
We have gotten promotions and lost jobs. Some of us have married
and some have separated and divorced. We have cared for aging
parents, lost people we love, and welcomed new life into our families.
We have faced life on life's terms and, on Sunday mornings, as
one of my favorite hymns by Shelley Jackson Denham says,
We laugh, we cry, we live we die, we dance, we sing our
We need to feel there's something here to which we can belong.
And we believe in life and in the strength of love and we have
found a need to be together.
We have our hearts to give, we have our thoughts to receive,
and we believe that sharing is an answer.
Happy birthday, Paint Branch. Make a wish. It will surely come
true in this sacred community.
"This church is a storehouse of everyone's stories.
The highlights of each life are part of us all.
Together we've honored our choices and stages.
Our tears and our laughter have hallowed these walls."
Marj Donn's poem evokes a truth that we might forget
as we buzz through our busy lives and wander here and there. These
walls-and those walls now repainted next door-are hallowed-holy-because
our stories have mingled with the stories of those who came before
us, describing 50 years of strengthening liberal religious community
so that we can truly know how we are all a part of each other.
But it's not the walls themselves that are sacred. What matters
are the many connections we make, the honoring of our life stages
together, the content of the intriguing and moving stories we
tell about ourselves.
All this adds up to a 50th anniversary that yes, looks backward
with love, but also eyes the future with great hope, urging us
to renew our spirit, sustain this congregational vessel, and step
forth into the next era with gusto and resolve. We hold dearly
onto our memories as we go forth for "One More Circle,"
which is the title of a song by Peter Mayer that fits this occasion,
and Jaco and I offer it to you with heartfelt gratitude and affection
SPECIAL MUSIC One More Circle P. Mayer
Jaco and Barbara ten Hove
REMEMBRANCE Virginia Knowles, member and former
We come now to the time in this service that we have set aside
to remember our friends and members who have died-those who shared
with us this congregation, who shared with us this life.
"THEY ARE WITH US STILL" adapted from KATHLEEN McTIGUE
In the struggles we choose for ourselves, in the ways we move
forward in our lives and bring our world forward with us,
It is right to remember the names of those who gave us strength
in the choices of living. It is right to name the power of lives
We share a history with those lives. We belong to the same motion.
They too were strengthened by what had gone before. They too were
drawn on by the vision of what might come to be.
Those who lived before us, who struggled for justice and suffered
injustice before us, have not melted into the dust, and have not
They are with us still. The lives they lived hold us steady.
Their words remind us and call us back to ourselves. Their courage
and love evoke our own. Their simple presence has imprinted our
We, the living, carry them with us: we are their voices, their
hands and their hearts.
We take them with us, and with them choose the deeper path of
Let us now in these moments of remembrance, call out the names
of those friends and members of this congregation who have gone
before us into the great beyond
SILENCE, REFLECTION OR PRAYER Barbara W. ten Hove
Additional Special Collection for the UU-United Nations Office.
During the offertory, many lit silent candles for their personal
joys or sorrows.
KATHLEEN: For fifty years, Unitarian Universalists
in this area have found in our congregation a home for their spirits.
We give thanks for the liberal religious vision lit so many years
ago that still shines brightly here today.
BARBARA: For fifty years, talented and courageous lay
people have given extraordinary amounts of time, energy, money
and love to grow and maintain this precious place. We give thanks
for those who came before and for those who still offer their
gifts of service to this church. This "Storehouse of Stories"
animates our collective life with verve and personality.
NANCY: For fifty years, this church has had ministers,
religious educators, musicians, administrators and other professionals
who have blessed us with their gifts. To those here and those
departed, we say thank you. Your leadership and inspiration have
guided us and challenged us to make this church a wonderful and
JACO: For fifty years this church has touched the lives
of its members and friends, and through them the wider community,
nation and world. We give thanks for the many movers and shakers
who brought their vision, wisdom and love to this place. Thank
you for all you have done to create and build a very meaningful
congregation. May we all commit ourselves to keep it thriving
for future generations. Amen and Blessed Be, and let us sing once
more, "Spirit of Life."
RESPONSE #123 Spirit of Life
In Memoriam - Rev. David Paine Osborn (19252004)
FIRST MINISTER OF THIS CONGREGATION, WHO DIED ON AUGUST 4
Edited by JBtH from obituaries and "The First Twenty-Five
Years of Paint Branch
Unitarian Church (19541979)" by Walker and Emily Dawson
Called to serve the College Park Unitarian Church in 1957,
David Osborn was a relatively young man, married to Janet, with
no children. He earned degrees from Boston Univ. and Meadville
Lombard Theological School, and had served the Unitarian Church
of Marblehead, MA, with prior ministerial work for Unitarians
in Lewisham and Hackney, England.
Shortly after worship services started that Sept. of 1957,
the noted minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in D.C., Dr.
A. Powell Davies, died suddenly. The College Park
Unitarians had piped in services from All Souls and felt very
close to Dr. Davies.
They were thankful they had David Osborn to help guide them through
this sad time.
David's sermons covered a wide range of topics. They were scholarly,
timely, and often challenging. His readings were well selected
and showed familiarity with literature. He conducted weddings,
funerals, memorial services, and dedication services for children
and parents. He spent considerable time counseling and called
on members in homes and hospitals.
Intra-church activities occupied a great deal of his time.
He attended most meetings of the Board of Trustees and the Church
Council, as well as numerous committee meetings and programs,
particularly with new members. He kept contact with the School
of Religion, held marriage seminars, and attended congregational
meetings. He was also active in interchurch activities, and chaired
the Greater Washington Assoc. of UU Churches (GWA) from 196064.
It was through this organization that he became deeply involved
in addressing institutional racism, fair housing concerns, the
women's movement, and support for the emerging gay and lesbian
community. With 40+ members he joined in the 1964 March on Washington
for Jobs and Freedom in an avowal of their commitment to civil
rights for all. In March 1965, he joined ten other members in
the Freedom March on Montgomery, AL, led by Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. Locally, David was very connected with the church's
Fellowship for Social Action.
In Jan. 1971, David announced his call to Central Unitarian
Church in Paramus, NJ.
Paint Branchers were very sorry to see him go; during 14 years
here he had worked hard for church and denomination. They were
sad to say goodbye to Janet, also. She had been very active, especially
in the choir and the Fellowship for Social Action. David later
served 14 years at North Shore Unit. Univ. Society in Manhasset,
NY, from whence he retired in 1990.
Just before he left Paint Branch, David Osborn said, "I
believe that on the whole this
church has exhibited patience, compassion, intelligence and maturity
that are the
marks of great strength of purpose and intention." The feeling
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