Member Stories

Individuals, couples, and families come to Cedar Lane with many different backgrounds in terms of spiritual identity. We accept people of all faiths and backgrounds and encourage people to seek spiritual truths that make sense to them. Our hope is to represent some of these stories here so you get a snapshot of some of the people you will meet at Cedar Lane!  

  • a church member and her three children celebrating the graduation of one of her sons
  • headshot of Cedar Lane member with shoulder length brown hair
  • Laura Laws and her new husband Robert Laws, holding hands and smiling as part of their wedding photos
  • Fred Peters at his 100th Birthday celebration in the choir loft with his fellow choir members
a church member and her three children celebrating the graduation of one of her sons
I was introduced in school to the Quaker idea that “there is that of God in everyone” or “there is Light in everyone,” but while I agreed with the sentiment, I didn’t personally identify with the belief in a higher power."
Pictured in the photo, from left to right:  Ian, Mia, Walter, Moyo

Moyo Myers Ellis

What brought you to Cedar Lane?

As the kids got older, we realized their (Quaker) school community was not fulfilling in certain ways. We wanted them to have a separate community of similar values but without the pressures and roles present at school. We decided to visit several UU churches and then pick one. That decision was taken out of adult hands when the kids woke up the Sunday after their first Cedar Lane Religious Education classes, ate, got dressed, and asked when we were leaving for Cedar Lane. We’ve never regretted that.

Who has been a spiritual hero in your life?

My Middle School history teacher has been a spiritual hero for me. A Quaker who has devoted his life to sharing his passion, values, and historical context to thousands, both through teaching and through civic service. He is always willing to share his humanness; his mistakes, his journey, his loves and confusions, his strong opinions, and he shares in a way that makes people feel seen and loved and almost by accident, nudged in a positive direction. I am grateful that social media has helped me stay connected to him as he shares his last great journey with those who love him as well.

Walter Ellis

How has your faith changed throughout your life?

It hasn’t changed that much, it’s just now I know there’s a name for it. And it counts as a faith. When I was young, I didn’t think I had a faith. I identified as agnostic. I was introduced in school to the Quaker idea that “there is that of God in everyone” or “there is Light in everyone,” but while I agreed with the sentiment, I didn’t personally identify with the belief in a higher power. I’ve since realized that I connect more with the UU First Principle, which is similar.

How has the Cedar Lane community been there for you when you needed support?

When I joined the church, the Senior High Youth Group greeted me with open arms. Despite being a new kid among friendships that had lasted for years, it wasn’t long before I felt closer with them than many of my other friends. Youth group on Sunday was always a welcome respite from the pressures of the rest of my life, and I often turned to my friends in SHYG for support and community.

Ian Ellis

Tell us one of your earliest memories from being in a place of worship.

In third grade I was in Religious Education class and we were learning about Japanese holidays. We were decorating paper carp for Children’s Day. The carp hung around the classroom to honor and bless children.

How has your faith changed throughout your life?

When I was younger, I would say that I was a non-religious Christian. However, now I would say I am an atheist. I only said the Christian part because I figured my parents were Christian, because we celebrated Christmas. Now I have a better understanding of my beliefs.

Mia Ellis

How has your faith changed throughout your life?

Back when I was younger, I felt like I didn’t really need to choose or think about faith. I believed in witches and fairies and unicorns and dragons and possibly many gods, but not just one.

There’s so much that we don’t know, that we might never know in my lifetime, that I don’t think it matters if what I believe is the exact truth. But what I believe helps dictate how I act, and that’s why it matters what I believe. I still believe in witches and fairies and unicorns and dragons and possibly many gods, but I don’t feel the need to have their existence proven because they exist in my soul if nowhere else.

What is one thing you are passionate about?

I am super passionate about feminism. I participated in the Women’s March this year, and it was pretty amazing. Before the march, my mom and I waited near the metro station for my friend and her dad. The only people we saw while waiting were women, single and in groups, wearing pussy hats and carrying inspirational signs. It was so memorable to see a world of women coming together to fight.

We started coming in or around 1953. My husband was an army brat, so he had attended mostly non-denominational chapels. But we wanted our three children to experience a "religious Sunday" in their lives."

Jeanne Pearson

Where are you from? When/how did you end up in Montgomery Cnty?

I was born in Marion, Indiana but moved to Ithaca, NY when I was 9 years old where my father was working on a PhD at Cornell U. In 1933, my family moved to Chevy Chase, DC and thence in and out of Montgomery County until 1939 when my parents bought a house being built in Rolling Wood, Chevy Chase, Maryland.

What other churches have you been a member of?

I was once a member of the Methodist and Episcopal Church in Indiana, Ithaca and Wesley Methodist in Chevy Chase, DC, and lastly Chevy Chase Methodist in Montgomery County before joining Cedar Lane back when the Unitarians met in the CC Women's Club with A. Powell Davies sermons piped in from All Souls UU Church in Washington, DC.

How has your faith changed throughout your life?

Not a whole lot; I was never a dedicated "Christian."

When did you first start coming to Cedar Lane? Why?

We started coming in or around 1953. My husband was an army brat, so he had attended mostly non-denominational chapels. But we wanted our three children to experience a "religious Sunday" in their lives.

What advice would you give new members?

I would advise a new member to become involved in the many interesting worthwhile and soul satisfying group meetings available, thus becoming aware of the goals of Cedar Lane and therefore becoming an active "working part" of this church--supporting civil rights, gay marriage, color blindness, community charities, etc. and an unbiased religious view.

About the photo of Jeanne

Jeanne Pearson received the Unsung Hero Lifetime Achievement Award in June 2017 for her 60+ years of volunteering, singing in the Choir, and managing the many office desk volunteers.

headshot of Cedar Lane member with shoulder length brown hair
I value the approach of the Unitarian church in terms of openness, respect, love, tolerance, fairness and care of the Earth."

Laura McFarland

What brought you to Cedar Lane?

Prior to moving to Maryland in 2011, I had attended Unitarian churches in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The real push to attend came from a desire on both my husband and my part to expose our children to religious education. One of the reasons we chose Cedar Lane was because it is part of our physical community. We live nearby and there are several Cedar Lane members that are part of the public school community in which we and our children participate.

What faith/spiritual tradition resonates with you now?

I especially enjoy #1009 “Meditation on Breathing” from Singing the Journey. For me, I don't think I could ever tire of it and would have in in every single service. When Dr. Sgrecci, Jenny Moyer and Rachel Moore team up for this song, it is beautiful and speaks to my soul.

How has your faith changed throughout your life?

From ages 10-18, I consistently attended and participated in the life at the United Methodist Church in Plainfield, Indiana. For me, the church and youth group provided an additional framework of moral guidance and value identification beyond school and family that helped cement my values. Towards the end of that time, there seemed to be a push to identify with the born again Christian idea and to me the culture of the church seemed less tolerant (perhaps due to a change in ministers and leadership). I didn't like it and withdrew my membership in my 20s. Today, I value the approach of the Unitarian church in terms of openness, respect, love, tolerance, fairness and care of the Earth.

What is one spiritual tradition you have or always have wanted to have in your life or family?

Growing up in the United Methodist Church, I loved advent season. I liked the songs. I liked lighting a new candle each week. I liked the reminder about the values of the season. As a result, I have created an advent ritual for my family that is far more secular than the one I grew up with but it has all the parts I love; songs, readings, poems, candles, an advent wreath, and a focus on hope, love, joy, peace, patience and light. Each year I make slight modifications which gives me a chance to review my thoughts and reassess how to share/impart/guide the meaning of the season with our children.

If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?

Barcelona, Spain. I have never been to Spain and my husband says Barcelona is beautiful. I would love to go with him without kids!

Laura Laws and her new husband Robert Laws, holding hands and smiling as part of their wedding photos
The activism in this community is truly admirable. There are so many different groups and events that it’s almost impossible to not feel the drive to serve your community."

Laura Laws

Where are you from? What brought you to this area?

I am from Massachusetts, and my husband Robert is from Philadelphia. We met during college at the University of Vermont. In 2013 we moved to Maryland together so I could attend graduate school in DC. We love the area and decided to stay after I graduated.

What brought you to Cedar Lane?

I grew up as a Unitarian Universalist. After I finished graduate school Robert and I were looking for a way to meet new people in our community and fulfill our spiritual needs. We found Cedar Lane online and decided to give it a try. We were impressed by Rev. Abhi, the choir, and welcoming and active community. We officially became members in November 2016.

What advice would you give to a new church member?

I would advise new church members to be open to all Cedar Lane has to offer. As a new member it can be overwhelming to try to find where you fit in. I recommend trying anything and everything that interests you. You never know where your passion may lie!

Robert Laws

What is one spiritual tradition you have or always wanted to have in your life or family?

I have always wanted to practice meditation. Growing up my life was not religious, but the spirituality of meditation was always interesting. It felt important to spend time focusing on my breathing and allowing myself to heal spiritually. I enjoy the chances we get to meditate as a community at Cedar Lane and it has pushed me to do this more often at home!

How is this vision-driven community compelling you to live your faith?

The activism in this community is truly admirable. There are so many different groups and events that it’s almost impossible to not feel the drive to serve your community. What specifically stands out to me is all of the work that is done to create a more just world. It motivates me to not only participate in these groups and events, but to be a more active member of society in everyday life.

What advice would you give to a new member?

Advice I would give to new members is to find your passion. Go to a meeting for a new group and learn something new or try something new. There is so much to offer in this community and there are some really great people. It’s a great feeling being in a community that is not just friendly, but also active.

Fred Peters at his 100th Birthday celebration in the choir loft with his fellow choir members
I had already heard A. Powell Davies speak on the radio and I had read his printed sermons when practicing barbershop at All Souls UU Church in DC. These were my first exposures to the UU philosophy."

Fred Peters

Where are you from? When/how did you end up in Montgomery County?

I was born in 1917 in Anamoose, North Dakota (founded in 1898 by Romanians who had come down from Canada). My grandfather and my father were both homesteaders--I was born on my grandfather's farm. My seven siblings were born in Minneapolis and in another small ND town. I came to Washington, DC, in 1939 to work on the 1940 census. I transferred to the War Department in 1940. I was drafted in 1943 and served in the army in India, in logistics, supplying the Chinese with gasoline and other war materials that the US was flying to them “over the hump" (the Himalayas). I was on R&R on a houseboat on Dal Lake in Kashmir when we heard about the bombing of Hiroshima. We knew we would be going home soon.

When I returned after the war, I continued to live in DC. I was married in 1948--I worked in the VA at the time. We moved to Silver Spring in September 1950. I transferred to the Public Health Service in 1956 and retired from there. I still live in my Silver Spring home, where we raised 3 children. Unfortunately, my son died in 1982, but my two daughters still live in Montgomery County. I have a granddaughter and a grandson who live nearby as well.

What other churches have you been a member of?

I was never a member of another church, but I sang tenor soloist in four other churches before joining Cedar Lane in September 1985. I had already heard A. Powell Davies speak on the radio and I had read his printed sermons when practicing barbershop at All Souls UU Church in DC. These were my first exposures to the UU philosophy.

How has your faith changed throughout your life?

I have been a religious liberal all of my life. A free thinker. A sectarian humanist and a fan of Emerson and Robert G. Ingersoll, the Great Agnostic.

When did you first start coming to Cedar Lane and why?

I began coming to Cedar Lane in 1985. I heard CL had a great choir, and I knew the church perspective was a liberal one. I love this church, and I especially love the choir. I love to sing and in addition to the CL choir, I still do barbershop singing with the Barbershop Harmony Society, so singing has played an important role in my life. The choir has been a very important part of life. I love the people in the choir, many of whom I have known for decades. It's what keeps me there, even though I am no longer as helpful to the choir as I would like to be because of my poor eyesight.