Constellations of Service

Constellations of Service - Reflections from the Nominating Committee


Belonging - Ginny Fuhringer

In a world that feels like it’s falling down all around us, where it sometimes seems that fear and hate and greed are the predominant forces, I am very grateful that this Unitarian Society exists and that I am a part of it. I look to this community to support and sustain me in these difficult times, to be a place where I make meaningful connections, and to have a place to join forces with all of you to work and strive to make the world a better place. I need this Society.

And just as I need the Society, I have become increasingly convinced that the Society needs me. We–all of us–ARE the Society and as such, we all need each other. We each bring ourselves–our own individual backgrounds and stories, our talents and gifts, and we weave them together into a community that is stronger than any of us are alone. We are all connected, in relationship with one another and with the whole. By being in relationship with all of you in a place where I believe we all strive to be our best selves, I have gained a better understanding of how I can contribute to the world. And as in any relationship, the roles I’ve taken on and the parts that I’ve played have changed and shifted over time, sometimes being very active and at other times stepping back and being still.

Some of the parts that I’ve played here have been in the roles of elected positions, each time being asked to serve by a member of the Nominating Committee. I think that each time I said yes to serving in those roles, my reasons were different. The first time I was asked to serve I thought, “I don’t know. Me? Surely there are others who are more qualified.” I was honored and humbled. It was immensely affirming that others in this Society had confidence in my ability to serve and lead. I was reassured by the knowledge that in that position, as with many of the elected leadership positions, I would be serving alongside someone who had already served their first year. In my two years of being Council Co-Moderator, I experienced the richness of being together with other people who were also investing in doing the good work of the Society.

In my 20 years here at USNF, I have served in two other elected positions, first on the President’s Team then the Nominating Committee. I had come to know that saying yes was serving both myself and the Society. I have been challenged to push myself beyond what I thought I had to offer. I have striven to be my best self and in doing so have come to know myself better. I had the opportunity to learn and grow in understanding of how our Society works. And I have gotten to know many of you better as, in the spirit of our living tradition, we worked collaboratively in the continuous shaping of this Society in response to a changing world.

I need this Society. For me it is a safe haven, a place for connection and a beacon of light and hope. Along with all of you it provides me with a whole host of opportunities to find ways to better our community and our world. As I have said yes and continue to say yes to serve this congregation in ways large and small, I feel good in knowing that I am contributing what I can to keep this Society strong and thriving.


A Reflection - Alan Dorman

Good morning,

I am Alan Dorman and I have been a member of USNF since 1994.

Giving back is something that is in my genes. My parents were members of our UCC church in Pittsfield growing up, and it was a large part of my childhood, attending and watching them be active members of the church community. The traditions, the music, the friendships, giving back, it was all absorbed.

I attended Youth Fellowship as a teen and felt that, like our Youth Group, of which I am an advisor, provided a safe home for growth and learning, different from school, and nurturing for all. Our youth here are great, and to mentor them and watch them blossom is truly a gift.  

In the midst of a busy career in hospitality,  2014 offered me more time and an opportunity to do more, when I was asked to be on the Board here and gladly said yes. Those three years provided me with another chance to give back, to a place and a community that I had received a great deal from, with friendships, grounding, and my own spiritual growth and learning. That later morphed into volunteering on our House and Property Committee, a never ending, but very satisfying commitment to learning how to care and maintain this beautiful structure we call home.  

And that is what this is to us, our 2nd home, a place where we come once a week, or more often than that when on a Zoom meeting, to recharge our batteries, to learn, nurture and grow.  It is easy and natural for me to say yes, to ushering occasionally, or even looking forward to doing a reading for Janet on Christmas Eve. 

And these last 2 years have been so different and challenging, as we have all reevaluated and restructured our own homes and lives, realizing that a good offshoot of the pandemic has been slowing us down, urging us to continuously to  follow our gut, finding our passions, trying to do what is right and ethical, and creating balance in our lives to have the time to do what is so important.  

I have been part of the Pandemic/Transition Team to determine how best to move forward safely in these times.  In sharing our efforts in creating the team structure, I shared this with my brother in Ipswich too, and his UCC church there created their own Pandemic Steering Committee based on his advice. 

In my semi-retirement, where I work 3 jobs, not so much because I need to, but because I want to, doing what I love, working outdoors as a park ranger at Look Park, and more recently, returning to the Deerfield Inn for a short stint, again giving back to what I care about and love to do. Finding my passions. 

Yes our lives are busy with jobs, and families and life in general, but by nurturing our 2nd home, it does continue to give back to us all in return, and the end result is why we continue to give of ourselves to this wonderful place.  Thank you.  


Constellations of Service – Stephanie Toggerson

Weavings. Webs. Constellations. Interconnectedness. We know that by being part of our community, we are strands that comprise the warp and weft of our communal cloth, the silk that makes up our web, and shape of the pictures we and our ancestors imagine in the sky.

But what of our anchor points? What is the warp and weft attached to? What does the spider attach its web to? And what stars do we name as the connecting points of our constellations? Without our anchor points, we lose our connectedness. We know, through our community experience, that we can still form a sanctuary without a minister, a headless sanctuary, but still a sanctuary, but we cannot form a sanctuary without those who act as our anchor points, those elected volunteers and unelected volunteers: those who volunteer as

Vice-President, those who populate the finance committee, the intrepid and worthy person who takes on the role of treasurer, and those who fill so many of the other roles, that make our community strong, connected, and growing.

The Nominating Committee works to fill our elected positions, so of course I want to have you all jump up and say that you are willing to fill the position of the coordinating council clerk (The Clerk takes and distributes accurate minutes of Coordinating Council meetings. A two-year commitment), become a member of the board (help shape the future of our congregation by participating in Board meetings on the third Monday of the month. Also, engage with members and friends by supporting activities of the congregation. A three-year commitment), or even join the Nominating Committee (Recruit volunteers for positions to be elected at the Annual Meeting. Also, promote a culture of service and belonging and inspire new leaders. A two-year commitment). All of these roles are part of what shapes and holds our community of faith together. Other, non-elected roles, are just as vital, such as being a member of the RE council, the web weavers, the welcoming committee, and so on. Thank you to all who support our community, be it through offering your tech services for our Sunday services, reaching out and supporting those in need in our community, and signing up for the Sunday jobs. And thank you for pledging or giving what you can.

And thank you to those who come and offer themselves in the pews and Zoom. We are here, in community, together.

For myself, near the end of my fourth year serving on the Nominating Committee, I have found the workload light(ish) and fulfilling. I have struggled too, but I am compassionately supported by my Committee members. Thank you, all, but Laurel, you have kept me going this year. Thank you.

I was reluctant to join the Nominating Committee because I don’t have a broad acquaintance within the community, so how could I nominate anyone? But it turns out that even though I am not what I had imagined a Nominating Committee member to be, I support the work of the Committee through my computer skills, efficient meeting style, and, incidentally, my love of public speaking. You, too, have skills that serve our community.

Not only do I serve the community by helping grow our leaders and leadership teams, I myself, have benefited.

As a person who struggles to connect deeply and stay connected, the Nominating Committee has drawn me deeper into my personal faith journey, and has kept me here, joined to this Unitarian Society. Not that I wish whatsoever to leave, not at all, but it is so easy to drift away, especially as the stresses of life pull and push. For me, the endless hours on Zoom make just one more Zoom session unbearable, my toddler demands my full attention, and I struggle with a heavy workload that never lightens, especially this year.

And for those who worry like I did about the burden and fit of stepping into a position of serving our community, no one stands alone.

Our community, as imagined and created by our Unitarian Universalist faith, also holds us together in compassion and understanding.

We who value the inherent worth and dignity of every person;

We who value justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;

We who value acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

We who value a free and responsible search for truth and meaning; We who value the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in the society at large;

We who value the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

And we, who respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part,

Are a beautiful and compassionate community, who supports the work and the individuals who act as stars in our Sanctuary constellation.

I invite you to consider anchoring yourself to your community. I invite you to consider becoming an anchor by joining a committee, a group, and a Sunday job.

As Karen G. Johnson wrote, "May the stories we connect draw constellations that reflect a shared ministry that calls out the best in us."