After several decades as a completely lay-led congregation, The Fourth Unitarian Society decided in 2004 to begin following a model of shared ministry. Our minister holds a half-time position, while sharing administrative, pastoral and Sunday Service responsibilities with the congregation as a whole. As a result, on any given Sunday, you may experience a traditional service led either by our minister or by one of our lay members.
A message from Reverend Karen Brammer:
Ministry to me is an experiment in covenantal living: each of us in promise with what we hold sacred or ultimate, with one another, with our larger faith community, and with the world surrounding us. There is so much room here for sharing, discovering, acting, making mistakes, and moving again toward who we are at our best as people and as a faith community.
We are here to provide support and care for one another. We are here to nudge each other further, to take risks that open our hearts and minds and what we give. We are here to serve and celebrate the beautiful and terribly difficult world. It is my role as minister to walk with you, share with you, challenge you, be challenged by you.
It is my role as minister to find as many ways as I can to ask,
“Who are you and who do you want to become?” and
“Where and what in your life do you know, experience, seek as sacred?” and
“Who is your neighbors and what are we called to do in relationship to our neighbors?”
May we all be blessed and inspired as we roll along in this life together.
Reverend Karen Brammer began her ministry with Fourth Unitarian on August 1st, 2013.
She comes to us from seven years of serving as Smaller Congregation Specialist for the Northern New England District (Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont) of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). She holds a Master of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School, and was ordained as a minister in 1998.
Before UUA district work, Karen was minister for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Saco and Biddeford, Maine also for seven years. In addition to her half time position with Fourth Unitarian, Karen currently serves as UUA Green Sanctuary Program Manager.
Karen believes that what is Sacred works through the world, and through individuals and communities living the beliefs we claim.
Our Board of Trustees
Pictured, L-R: Alan Weger, Harold Stillman, Eric Larrabee. Front row:
Elaine Zwick, Susan Schefflein, Rev. Karen Brammer, MollySue Wedding. Not pictured: Gil Vasquez
The Board of Trustees consists of four officers and three trustees elected by the congregation. This body acts heart to heart and hand to hand with the congregation and minister to fulfill 4th UU’s mission and purposes and to further and refine its strategies. The dedication and high level of participation of each board member embodies the core values and ministry of the congregation. Working together board members believe they can make a difference and add strength to 4th UU’s collective purpose and identity.
Meeting monthly, the board is responsible for supporting the spiritual and fiscal health of the congregation. Utilizing the input of the congregation and in partnership with the minister, the board strengthens and assists the collective effort to achieve mutually developed goals. The board is an empowering entity encouraging the congregation’s ministries and committees to pursue activities that lead to a healthy and integral impact for members and community. The board seeks to develop and implement policies that lead the fellowship to be a strong spiritual presence and active leader toward social justice.
With committee assistance and oversight the board manages 4th UU’s resources and assets and adopts appropriate policies to protect the welfare of the congregation and ensure its well-being. In addition to setting the annual budget for congregational approval, the board requires and reviews regular financial reports, including monthly balance sheets and statements of revenue and expense. The Fellowship holds periodic Membership Meetings at which members of the congregation vote on pertinent issues. Actions taken at Membership Meetings take precedence over all other decisions.
Board Members for 2015-2016 are:
President: Susan Schefflein
Vice President: Harold Stillman
Secretary: Melissa Cole
Treasurer: Eric Larrabee
Trustees: Alan Weger, Elaine Zwick, Ingrid Smith
Our Minister Emerita
In June 2016, the members of Fourth Unitarian Society voted to confer upon Reverend Dawn Sangrey the title of Minister Emerita. Reverend Sangrey was the first minister to be hired by Fourth UU, after having spent 47 years as a lay-led congregation. She was our Consulting Minister for seven years.
Rev. Sangrey was ordained to the Unitarian Universalist ministry in 2001 and is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School. During her tenure with us, Rev. Sangrey (along with Rev. Kay Greenleaf of the UU Fellowship of Poughkeepsie) was involved in a public witness for marriage equality. Together, they officiated dozens of same-sex weddings in New Paltz, NY, receiving widespread media attention when they were the first clergy to be arrested and charged with a crime for solemnizing gay and lesbian weddings. At their trial, the charges against both ministers were dismissed. A July, 2004 New York Times article chronicles her thoughts on the experience.
The membership chose to honor Reverend Sangrey in recognition of her seven years of kind, inspiring, and skilled ministerial service to our congregation; her patient and persistent guidance of our community in our early years of co-ministry; and her friendship and caring toward our community members.