I really want to call this is the Sylvia Chronicles: 40 years of membership at UUCCH from Rev Ed Lane in the modern spaceship style building, to Rev. Margret O’Neall in the renovated building on the hill. My years are 1966-2022; I know that is more than 40 years but I was away for 15 years in the middle. What do I get out the years that I have invested here?
The list might be too long, but here we go: I brought my 3 girls here to be raised as Unitarian Universalists. I had been raised a UU so I thought it would be good for them also. And fortunately we lived in Kingston “Estates,” directly behind the church, so getting here was easy. The program was busting at the seams back in 1966. Kids were housed in all the buildings on the campus, from UU house to Hillside to the Nursery School building (which had a different name that I have forgotten). My girls remember the Sex Ed classes especially.
As a result of raising my girls here they have in turn raised or are raising, in case of 11 year old Jackson in London, their children as UUs. Connie Roggio knows 3 of them from the UU Church in Delaware County in Media PA. Those 20 years went by fast, as we were a busy family doing lots of social activities attached to the church from the International Dinner to musical productions of Godspell and Man of La Mancha.
From those early years I developed friendships that I still hold dear to this day. By working collaboratively on committees, I learned how to teach RE Classes, to take notes and create reports for the RE and Adult Education programs. I became an organizer for events for the Hospitality program and became involved in Social Justice issues. I also learned how to fundraise for the wonderful Labyrinth that sits on the footprint of our old spaceship church. All these events gave me skills that I would use in my 25 years as a high school librarian.
I moved away from New Jersey to Connecticut for about 15 years, and I found that I could go to a different UU church in different cities and states and still feel at home. Some things would be different, but the core beliefs of Unitarian Universalism are the same everywhere. What was sweet when I retired and returned to New Jersey was that I was able to pick up where I left off at UUCCH. We had a new building due to the fire while I was away. You can see the names on the plaque at the back of the room that has a list of all the donors for this building.
Of course, life hasn’t been all roses. During my adventures with cancer diagnosis the church provided unbelievable support via meals and friendship. My local “wanna-be” UU friends were very impressed with all that was provided by Caring. When the roof of this building failed, I was able to give my time and skills by joining the Renovator Task Force to bring forth a new adaptation of the old building. New colors are blended with existing colors. A unique new orientation is blended with the familiar chalice wall hangings. I am so pleased to see the Sanctuary and Commons inhabited by our members and friends especially after our long hibernation due to the pandemic. I can hardly wait till we can start FULLY worshipping, learning and socializing together again in this new beginning.