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Please join me in welcoming Wayne Spaulding to Bethesda and to CLUUC. Wayne will be with us over the next several weeks helping conduct a Feasibility Study exploring our undertaking of a capital campaign. He is an associate with James D. Klote & Associates, a leading national firm for conducting capital campaigns for religious, educational and spiritual organizations. Since joining Klote in October 2010, Wayne has served spiritual communities and churches in Brooklyn, Del Mar, the Eastern Shore and Cincinnati, among other locations.
Wayne believes that the essential element of every campaign is a communication plan that enthusiastically presents the purpose for the campaign, clearly relates the needs of the congregation, and convincingly demonstrates the importance of every member’s participation.

The Feasibility Study is now underway with a Focus Group meeting following each service this Sunday in the Chalice House. All are invited! A partial schedule of meetings can be found below with additional meetings announced as schedule and logistics are worked out.

Friday, 9/15, 10 am | Library
Sunday, 9/17, 10:10 am | Chalice House
Sunday, 9/17, 12:10 pm | Chalice House
Monday, 9/18, 12:15 pm | Library
Friday, 9/22, 11:30 am | Library
Sunday, 9/24, 8:00 am | Library
Sunday, 9/24, 9:45 am | Library
Sunday, 10/1, 8:00 am | Chalice House
Sunday, 10/1, 9:45 am | Chalice House
Saturday, 10/7, 10:30 am | Library

These are important opportunities for all CLUUC’s friends and members to learn about and discuss plans for the future. Your input is valuable so share your thoughts through this unique process developed by James D. Klote & Associates. Welcome to Cedar Lane, Wayne!

Rev. Abhi

Planning Meeting with Architects August 2017

How Go the Building Renovation Explorations?

It’s been a busy summer for the CAPC, the capital asset planning committee. Thanks to all of you who participated in July’s round of six focus groups with our architects Jim Ritter and Derek Norton; they presented three concepts for addressing the issues that are important to all of us. Then, in early August, we invited all of you who’d been part of the focus groups to meet with them again to give feedback. Nearly 30 of you joined us.

Two of the concepts envision renovation of the existing sanctuary, taking out the stage and bumping the room out to truly become a sacred space that works. The entire office wing would become the fellowship hall and the offices would move to where the Lounge is now. The entrance area would be much expanded, including the possibility of a small addition that would create an even more inviting entry area with a gracious stairway to the lower level.

The third concept envisions enclosing the far side of the courtyard with a new sanctuary, which could seat more people in a more flexible, contemporary configuration. The main entry would relocate to the new sanctuary side. Our current sanctuary would become the fellowship hall.

In all cases, the building would be made completely accessible and would include a new elevator. Circulation would be much better and the courtyard would be redesigned for a more active role. In all schemes, we’d get much better storage.

People at the focus group were excited. It made for a lively evening of robust, constructive discussion. “You listened to us and it shows.” More than one of the approaches was described as a “brilliant solution, I would never have thought of that.”

It is too early for anything but guesstimates of cost; CAPC will have better information in a week or two. At this point, we would estimate that the new sanctuary concept is approximately twice the cost of the renovation concept.

With such excitement, the CAPC has asked the architects to further develop some of the ideas that people gravitated toward and to provide us with more firm cost estimates. It is important to understand that these estimates remain very preliminary and will undoubtedly change over time as designs are refined.

Though CAPC hoped to have another round of focus groups, we have canceled the 8/17 open meeting, due to vacation absences and the desire to give the architects sufficient time to do the requested refinements. Instead, we will seek input as part of the capital campaign focus groups to be kicked off in September.

Following a special meeting of the Board planned for the week of September 4 to review the concepts and decide what could be included in the capital campaign (building and other important initiatives), the readiness stage of the capital campaign will begin. All members of the congregation will be then invited to participate in focus groups to review the proposed campaign initiatives, including the building, the endowment and funding for other initiatives (e.g., social justice, endowed staff, etc.). The readiness focus groups will begin Sunday, Sept 10, and run for six weeks -- there will be up to 20 of them offered at various times.

The CAPC is looking forward to the start of what promises to be an exciting year at Cedar Lane!

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Announcing our New Director of Lifespan Religious Education

Empower, Connect, and Inspire. These are the words that sum up the philosophy of religious education for Tim Atkins, the new Director of Lifespan Religious Education recently selected by Cedar Lane’s DLRE Search Committee and unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees.  

For the last four years, Tim has served as the full-time Director of Religious Education at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship in northern N.J.  Morristown is a mid-size congregation with 350 members, and 100 children and youth.

During his time at Morristown, Tim has racked up a long list of accomplishments,  many of which caught the Search Committee’s attention as desired outcomes for Cedar Lane. Among his highlights at Morristown, Tim:

  • doubled RE attendance;
  • conducted a Visioning process for children’s and youth programming;
  • led monthly children’s chapels - and collaborated on multigenerational worship and Time for All Ages services;
  • selected, curated, and created RE curricula -- including Tapestry of Faith;
  • launched and coordinated a Young Adult group and an Emerging Adult group;
  • started a new structure for connecting RE with social justice;
  • created targeted weekly emails for parents and teachers; and
  • provided pastoral support for children, youth and families.

Tim has served on the UUA Board of Trustees since 2015, and he was elected Financial Secretary at GA last month.

In conversations with Tim, as well as discussions with his references, the Search Committee found Tim to be an innovative leader with broad vision, who pulls ideas from both within and outside of the UU community.  One of his references described him as “one of the best religious educators in the country.”  Another reference said Tim “has magic in dealing with children.”

Tim’s introduction to Unitarian Universalism came when he was a young adult, at the UU Congregation of Atlanta, which has more than 700 members. He was a member there for eight years, during which time he served as volunteer Social Media Coordinator, Stewardship Committee Member, a middle and high school RE teacher, and co-leader of the 20/30s Group.

The Search Committee was comprised of Linda Gianessi, Sebastian Moffett, Melissa Reichley, Judy Rodgers, Gwen Warman, and Jack Welch.

Tim will begin serving Cedar Lane in early September.  Stay tuned for details on events to welcome him to our community.

In the meantime, you can learn more and read a recent sermon he gave about the Joys of Imperfection at    

blackclergyuprising July 2017

On Tuesday, July 18, Black faith leaders from across the country met with representatives on Capitol Hill to urge them to vote against any budget that would threaten access to health care for millions. People of faith and moral courage, including many Unitarian Universalists (Rev. Abhi Janamanchi among them), joined together in solidarity with them, and some of them were arrested. Read more here.

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You may have likely heard already, but Cedar Lane member Rich Madaleno is running for Maryland governor. Rich formally launched his campaign on Monday, July 17th. Click to read.

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Farewell from Rev. Hillary Collins-Gilpatrick

Dear Cedar Laners,

You know the Talking Heads’ song, “Once in a Lifetime?” I’ve been singing it all month. It’s the perfect song for well, life, and all the expected and unexpected changes in it.

It has that one verse that goes:
“And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife,
and you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”

And then, that second verse:
“And you may tell yourself this is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself this is not my beautiful wife!”

And that ever so, samsaric, cyclical refrain,
“Same as it ever was, Same as it ever was.”

I love “Once in a Lifetime.” To me, it’s a song that says “You never know what’s going to happen in life, but we keep on living anyway. Same as it ever was.” If you don’t know the song I encourage you to look it up and have a dance party as soon as possible. If you do know it, I bet you are already feeling compelled hit play and turn it up, aren’t you?

My last day at Cedar Lane will be July 7th, and I am unable to attend another Sunday worship service at this point. As I resigned from my position as Director of Lifespan RE at the cusp of summer, I knew that, with the impending vacations and weekend trips out of town you all would start taking, I likely wouldn’t be able to say goodbye in person to as many of you as I had hoped. I am sad about this, but, alas, in this mobile day an electronic age, I’m sure we’ll see each other again.

What is more important to me is offering you all great thanks, the kids especially.

Thank you for playing, for singing, for dancing, for praying, for breathing, for trying things out with me this year.  I am sorry to be leaving so abruptly, we never know what’s going to happen in life, but we keep on living anyway. Same as it ever was.

So, if you promise to keeping on living – and playing, singing, dancing, and breathing, I’ll promise to-do the same. And this can be our covenant with one another that will keep us connected and keep making the world a better place.

Yours in great thanks and dance parties.

See you soon,

Rev. Hillary 

Building the Movement Together: Reporting Back

This past January, we held a summit on social justice here at Cedar Lane. More than 70 folks attended, and we had an invigorating discussion. We thought about congregational social justice in a larger sense, issues that we personally felt called to, issues we felt Cedar Lane was called to, as well as our sense of what sorts of principles we thought should guide our work. The workshop was led by Rev. Rob Keithan, and his report may be found here.

In addition, we sent out a survey which was filled out by those in attendance at the summit but also through Cedar Lane’s eNews to include as many voices as possible. A total of 103 folks shared their thoughts, and here’s what you said.

There is still a great deal to do with respect to focusing our social justice efforts at Cedar Lane, but we have made great progress in this past year. In particular, we have some very focused work happening with immigrant justice and sanctuary as well as our match with a local refugee family to aid in their support. With the tremendous needs of our times, it is ever more crucial to bring our energies and focuses together for greater change. This is a challenge for Cedar Lane, but one that we believe we are ready for.

Katie Romano Griffin

Welcome to Catherine (Katie) Romano Griffin!

The Assistant Minister Search Team and Rev. Abhi are delighted to announce that the Board of Trustees unanimously approved Katie's appointment as our new Assistant Minister.  She will officially begin her ministry at Cedar Lane on August 1, 2017.

Katie hails from a multiracial, ethnically Latino/Italian family and credits her love of community building to the many people in her boisterous family that have loved her into being.  Katie is passionate about creating thriving multigenerational, multicultural communities and leverages her many skills from a previous career in consulting and marketing to coach teams into achieving this goal.   Her calm pastoral presence has been an asset in her work in churches, in the hospital setting, and also in her community where she serves as a volunteer trauma and disaster clergy team member.  Her previous work as a Lay Campus Minister and volunteer work as the Vice President of the Florida Gulf Coast University United Campus Ministries Chapter, honed her interfaith justice skills.  She is looking forward to applying all of her gifts at Cedar Lane.

Katie graduated on May 21st from Meadville Lombard Theological School and was co-ordained on June 4th by both her home congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers and her internship congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Charlotte County.  She is very much looking forward to meeting everyone and serving Cedar Lane.

Assistant Minister Search Team

Gail Riley, Chair, Resha Anderson, Betsy Binkes, Mary Farrar, Bob Harrison, and Tim Persons