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Showing posts from August, 2018
The Rev. Dr. Linda Anderson, Unitarian Universalist Community Minister in Affiliation with the  Unitarian Universalist  Fellowship at Stony Brook I was asked to write for the Ask the Clergy Column in Newsday on the question "Who are the most significant female figures in your faith tradition?" Below is my answer. At a time when hardly any denominations would ordain women to the ministry, the Universalist Convention of New York, in 1863, ordained Olympia Brown. She was the first woman to be ordained in my faith tradition and indeed the first woman whose ordination was recognized by an entire denomination. This was a symbolic, highly significant gesture affirming the acceptability of all women to preach the word of God. On a more concrete level, Brown serves as a model for women to persist in the struggle for what they believe is just. Not only did Brown serve as a minister (in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Racine, Wisconsin), she was among the first suffragettes ca
Loving Long Island I wrote this poem, a thanksgiving affirmation and prayer, back in the fall of 2012, in my second year of ministry here in Stony Brook. I was learning to love my new home on earth, and invited the congregation to travel with me across the island and back and forward in time to name the blessings we inherit and pass on.  Our Long Island home is shaped like a fish!  and it is swimming towards the big city  and its tail is in the sea and the sound. It’s 110 miles long and 20 miles wide,  700 miles and 124 stations on the Long Island Railroad, 72 miles of Long Island Expressway, hundreds of sights and sounds and colors long, on the parkways and highways and byways that take us where we need to go, all seven and a half million humans beings who live here, We love this our long island home,  this land beneath our feet, this ancient story we’ve entered. Ancient glaciers scraped up these Long Island hills  and dragged out the beaches, d

Does Prayer Work?

I f many people pray for someone to get better and the person partially recovers, did God answer the prayer?   Was the prayer lacking because not enough people joined in?   Would the person have completely recovered if twice as many people had prayed? The thought of this age old question came to me, along with so many other thoughts, contemplating the tragic story that unfolded in our largery community this week leading to the tragic death of John Wile, a man with cognitive impairment who had been missing after going for a jog earlier this week.   My heart goes out to his family. I was moved how so many people joined in the effort to attempt to locate him, but without success.   So did all our prayers not work?   Did we not offer enough?   Do enough? This is the wrong way to imagine how prayer works.   Rabbi David Wolpe refers to such bargaining prayer – make my loved one better and I’ll be good as “hardly the highest spirit of faith.” Would that it were so, and certainly, ever

"I know who you are"

“So, what do you do for a living?” she said to me. Not in my usual clerical garb, I needed to answer, “I am an Episcopal priest.”  “Oh right, you guys are like Catholic priests but can get married,” she exclaimed.  Not wanting to get into too elaborate a discussion, I acknowledged the capability and then shared a brief sentence or two describing the Episcopal church as not really Protestant and not Roman Catholic, but holding a “middle way” respecting Holy Scripture, Tradition and Reason. I then told her about some upcoming events at Caroline church and invited her to come.  As an Episcopal priest here in the Three Villages for many years, and Rector of the historic Caroline Church of Brookhaven, I am no longer surprised how many people have a rather narrow understanding of just what the Episcopal Church is all about.  Yes, as with all Christian denominations, Jesus Christ is the head of our church: that Church being one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.  The Hebrew Scriptures and