The Mattatuck Unitarian Universalist Society (MUUS) of Woodbury celebrated the congregation’s installation of and covenant with its newly settled minister, The Rev. Jeanne Lloyd, M.Div., M.A. on Sunday, March 24, 2013, at B’nai Israel of Southbury.  The service was a gathering of Woodbury and  Southbury town officials, clergy of many faiths  and people dedicated to religious freedom.

Guests traveled from as far away as Missouri  to be present at this ceremony that marks an important milestone in the life of the Mattatuck Unitarian Universalist Society, a congregation that promotes religious tolerance and social justice. The society was founded in 1980. Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion with Jewish-Christian roots.  It has no creed. It affirms the worth of human beings, advocates freedom of belief and the search for advancing truth, and tries to provide a warm, open, supportive community for people who believe that ethical living is the ultimate witness of religion.# 

The ceremony was opened with the ringing of a gong by the longest living member of MUUS, Edwin Kolsby, along with the youngest child of the congregation, Miles Edelson Baskin. Greetings were brought from Mike Ingber, president of MUUS as well as officials of several other groups, including Rabbi Eric Polokoff, B’nai Israel of Southbury; Ken Wagner, past president of the UUA Clara Barton District; and, Jacki Shanti, UUA trustee & first vice moderator. 

Gerald Stomski, First Selectman of Woodbury, attended the event and wished everyone a happy spring. He said, “In a time when our whole society is facing a lot of uncertainty, through economic hardship, illness, mental illness and other difficulties…it is also a time for opportunity and hope and spiritual prosperity.” He complimented the local leaders of faith.

Ed Edelson, First Selectman of Southbury, spoke of the powerful effect good clergy can have on a community. He referenced the 1937 event when Southbury said “No” to the idea of a Nazi training camp in its town. He said that back then, two ministers were influential in setting the context of the debate, not telling people what to think but allowing people to think for themselves. “Southbury and Woodbury have been very lucky to have so many fine clergy leaders over the years to do just that. Maybe that’s part of the secret sauce that makes our communities such great places to live, work, to raise a family and retire.”

Edelson is a member of MUUS so he has known Rev. Lloyd for four years. He said that she has personally helped him think things through by raising his awareness. “Her commitment to her congregation is clear. What is even clearer is her commitment to help our communities be better than they are and the best they can be. Her activism on hunger has already made an impact and is obviously recognized.”

Unitarian Universalist ministers from Hartford, Manchester, Meriden, New London, CT; Essex, Harwich, Marlborough-Hudson, Reading, Wayland, MA; and New Lisbon, NJ; took part in the service.  Clergy representing Episcopal, Baptist, Pentecostal, Reform Judaism, Roma Catholic and United Church of Christ faith traditions also participated.

The Rev. Joshua Mason Pawelek, minister at Unitarian Universalist Society East (Manchester, CT) and a colleague of Rev. Jeanne’s for many years, gave the sermon, titled “Wake Now, My Senses.” In his address to the congregation he said of Rev. Jeanne: “At the heart of her patient, thoughtful, measured, accepting, forgiving, pastoral way is a minister who believes unconditionally and wholeheartedly in you, in your congregation, in Unitarian Universalism, and in the power of a liberal faith to save and transform lives. ..She’ll never doubt your calling—even, and especially, in those times when you do. She knows how essential it is that each person discovers their true calling. And thus she relishes the opportunity to share ministry with you as your spiritual leader, your guide, your truth-teller, your pastor, your partner.”

He went on to say: “This is a peak moment in the life of the Mattatuck Unitarian Universalist Society; and it is a peak moment in the life of the Rev. Jeanne Lloyd. It marks a new beginning, a new life, a new light, a birth, a first breath, a first cry! It’s a wake-up moment in which something wonderful and new begins.”

The congregation offered an extensive music program during the service. Supported by the MUUS choir, Marj Hanson and Charlie Batchelder,( piano) solos were provided by Bob Werme, MUUS Music Director, The Rev. Maddie Sifantus and Ron Cavicchio with composers Carolyn McDade, Garnet Rogers, and Noel Paul Stookey granting special permission to use their songs in this service dedicated to addressing hunger.

In tribute to a commitment to “Stand Against Hunger” guests were asked to bring nourishing food for local food banks, and to make an offering for local food programs and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Service of the Living Tradition Fund.  Over $1300 was collected. 

Family members and friends of Rev. Lloyd were also included in the ceremony.  Her father, Col. (ret.) E. Alon Lloyd, husband, Robert Hard, and son, Brenton Lloyd Hard (of Astoria, NY) lit the chalice at the beginning of the service.  Rev. Lloyd’s mentor, Carl McCargo offered a reading for the chalice lighting with his wife, Jacki Shanti; Rev. Stephen Shick offered the Charge to the Minister; while, Rev. Dr. Art McDonald offered the Charge to the Congregation and Rev. Laura Cavicchio offered the prayer.

A particularly moving portion of the service was the laying on of hands.  As Rev. Jeanne kneeled in the center of the sanctuary, all present joined either laying hands on her directly, or their hands on someone nearby, physically connecting everyone in attendance to the reverend.Tracy Johnson, ministerial candidate and former President of MUUS offered the blessing for the laying on of hands. 

Rev. Lloyd was unanimously called as MUUS’s settled minister on November 4, 2012, after serving as its Consulting Minister for four years. Previous ministries include All Souls Church in Greenfield, MA (Consulting Minister), Unitarian Universalist Society East in Manchester (Affiliate Community Minister), the Clara Barton District of UU Congregations (District Intern), and the Society for Community Ministries (President).  Rev. Lloyd is in final fellowship with the UUA, with a specialty in community ministry. She has received several awards for her religious leadership in the areas of anti-oppression and ethical conduct.  Prior to her ordination in 2003, she worked in the fields of mental health, disabilities and gerontology in administrative positions, and started her career as an assistant professor teaching at the University of Maine. She holds degrees in Experimental Psychology (B.S., Virginia Tech), Clinical Psychology (M.A., Radford University) and Ministry (M.Div., Meadville Lombard Theological School), and is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi National Honors Society.  She lives in Canton, CT with her husband, Robert Hard and her father, Col. (ret.) E. Alon Lloyd.  Rev. Lloyd’s son, Brenton Lloyd Hard, is a Career Services Coordinator, assisting people with visual impairments in finding employment in Manhattan, NY.