Local Unitarian congregation contracts part-time pastor
summit daily news
FRISCO ” The congregation that Nathan Woodliff-Stanley began serving this past summer doesn’t have its own sanctuary, and its 60-some members come from very different spiritual backgrounds.
But as the new minister to the High Country Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Woodliff-Stanley knows a congregation with diverse approaches to faith is, quite literally, a God-send.
The fellowship formed 8 years ago and meets in Frisco’s community center for 9 a.m. services on Sundays. The congregation is small, but has grown enough recently to be able to hire Woodliff-Stanley on a one-week-per-month pastoral basis.
He visited the weekend of Sept. 16 and will return to the High Country the weekend of Oct. 23, typically staying for four or five days at a time, meeting with members, preaching and holding office hours.
Woodliff-Stanley also works half-time as one of four pastors at Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, a larger congregation (650 members) closer to his home in Denver.
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“I’m quite busy right now,” he said with a chuckle. “Half time and quarter time add up to more than full time.”
He knows the ideals of Unitarian Universalists are not well known.
“You’re not going to find fundamentalist Christians among our numbers, but you are going to find a lot of people with different faith ideas,” Woodliff-Stanley said. “We’re open to the truth no matter what it is and (have) a commitment to respect for all people. It’s a religion based on a set of principles about how we go about the journey of faith ” we expect people to change and to learn.”
Woodliff-Stanley grew up in Iowa and attended Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where he met his wife, an Episcopal priest from Mississippi. Before moving to Colorado the couple lived in Mississippi ” Southern Baptist country and hardly a prosperous region for Unitarian ideals, so Woodliff-Stanley worked with non-profit organizations while in the South.
In addition to having the opportunity to serve a “great group of people” in Summit County, Woodliff-Stanley has enjoyed getting to know the area in a physical sense.
“It’s been delightful to come up here and hike some of the trails,” he said. “Hiking I just adore. The awareness of nature and the connection to that, there’s a long strand of that all through UU history.”
The love of nature is a strong current in his congregation, as well, Woodliff-Stanley said.
“We get a lot of people who might rather be in the mountains on Sunday morning but who end up coming because they also value that community and the connection with other people,” he said with a smile. “Sharing your journey with others is part of what you do, and I think that helps keep you grounded.”
Those wanting more information about the High Country Unitarian Universalist Fellowship can call 970-262-0539 or visit the church office at Suite 101, 330 Feebler Avenue, Dillon, across the street from Colorado Mountain College.
Summit Daily News, Summit County, Colorado
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