Shoreline Unitarian
Universalist Society

About Our Community

Shoreline Unitarian Universalist - SUUS Congregation

Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Society (SUUS) has been a progressive religious voice along the shoreline of Connecticut since 1962. We are a community where people with different beliefs worship as one faith, where religious inspiration comes from not one but many sources.

If you are seeking a place to grow your spirit, to deepen your connection to our human family, and join with others to create a better world, Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Society welcomes you.

Congregational Mission

As a Welcoming Congregation dedicated to Love, Faith, Justice and Reason, the Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Society‘s mission is to:

  • nurture the spirit and enrich the mind;
  • foster a reverence for life in all of its complexity and mystery;
  • build a spiritual community dedicated to social, economic, and environmental justice;
  • explore the search for truth by providing a safe space for the exchange of diverse perspectives;
  • inspire members, friends and our larger community to go forth and make the world a better place.

Our Congregational Covenant

To ensure our community is a safe and inspirational place where we welcome all, embrace diversity and support individuals, we the members of Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Society commit to the following:

  1. Act with good will and stay in relationship
  2. Listen deeply and assume good intentions
  3. Be open to change
  4. Maintain mutual respect
  5. Take concerns to the person(s) involved
  6. Share strengths, talents, and resources
  7. Support each other in living this covenant

When resolution is elusive, seek help from the Committee on Healthy Relationships

SUUS Minister and Staff

About Our Ministers

The Reverend Jade Benson, Minister

The Board of Trustees is thrilled to announce that Rev. Jade Benson will join SUUS as its 3/4-time contract minister, effective October 15, 2022. Rev. Jade comes to SUUS with many years of ministry and service, most recently in the role of Interim Minister for the UU Church of Livermore in CA.

Rev Jade’s path toward ministry led from a counseling and training career in the heart of the AIDS pandemic to seminary and service in hospice and parish settings. Pastoral care and Sunday services will get much of her attention here at SUUS.

She is married to Rev Mary McKinnon Ganz, and they are in the process of moving to the area, glad to be geographically closer to their grandchildren. They have a fierce if so small Chiweenie pup, a love of poetry, writing, travel and justice making. 

Rev Jade is a baseball and basketball fan and would have been a Major League Baseball pitcher, at least in her dreams.

The Reverend Jeanne Lloyd, M.Div., M.A, Affiliate Minister

Rev. Jeanne was unanimously called by this congregation on May 6, 2016, and retired on November 22, 2020. She continues to work with our congregation as our Affiliate Minister

Prior to her arrival at SUUS in Madison, CT, she served as minister to All Souls UU Church, Greenfield, MA (2006-2010), and Mattatuck UU Society, Woodbury, CT (2008-2016).  In 2013, she also served SUUS as its sabbatical minister.  Preceding her entry into parish ministry, she was a Unitarian Universalist Community Minister addressing the issues of racism and ableism in non-profits/congregational settings in the Hartford/Manchester area.

She is a graduate of the Unitarian Universalist seminary of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago (M.Div.) and is jointly ordained by the Universalist Church of West Hartford and UU Society East in Manchester, CT.   She is in full fellowship in the Unitarian Universalist Association and previously served on the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association Ethical Guidelines Committee.  From 2001-2007 she served as President of the UU Professional Society for Community Ministries.  She additionally holds a graduate degree in clinical psychology and served many years as an advocate and chaplain in the non-profit sectors of mental health and developmental disabilities in Maine and Connecticut.  She brings to SUUS and the surrounding community, opportunities & experiences in spiritual growth, leadership development, social justice, pastoral care & non-violent communication, and interfaith activities.  She lives in Madison, Connecticut with her husband, Bob, and together they enjoy bike riding along the shoreline.

Jeanne Lloyd


Martha Hoffman Staff

Martha Wells Hoffman, Congregational Administrator

Martha is our part-time Congregational Administrator who keeps SUUS’s office organized and flowing smoothly with grace and style.  In her “other life,” Martha runs a nonprofit concerned with providing clean/safe water to Ugandan communities in need. She is the proud mother of three, and she enjoys biking, boating, travel and is an avid photographer.

Amy Buckley, Director of Faith Formation and Music Leader

Amy joined our staff as Music Leader in 2017 and became our Director of Faith Formation in 2019.  Her musical training, love of children and years of teaching brings an exciting level of experience for both roles.Amy has been a music educator for over twenty years.  She received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Connecticut, where her study afforded her the opportunity to train at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.  She then went on to receive a Master of Music from The Juilliard School.  Since moving to the shoreline Amy has frequently appeared at the Ivoryton Playhouse along with other local community theaters.  Some of her musical theater and operatic highlights include: Marion Paroo (Music Man), Mrs. Banks (Mary Poppins), Antonia (Man of La Mancha), Miss Lynch (Grease), Despina (Così fan Tutte), La Fée (Cendrillon) and Despina (Così fan Tutte).  Amy resides in Westbrook where she has a private voice studio and plays her favorite role of Mom to daughter Viviana.  Amy is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).

Nick Stanford

Nick Stanford, Pianist

Nick is a Haddam, CT native who earned his Bachelor of Arts in music from the University of Connecticut studying piano with Irma Vallecillo as well as his Bachelor of Science in mathematics.  He then went on to graduate school in mathematics at Indiana University for four years, taking graduate coursework at the Jacobs School of Music while there.  His favorite works of music are piano pieces from the late Romantic period in the French and Russian styles.  The more obscure the piece, the better!  Nick often serves as the Music Director in various community theater musical productions.  Recent credits include Into the Woods (GetUp Stage Company), Thoroughly Modern Millie (White Rabbit Theater), and Chicago (GetUp Stage Company).  Outside of music, Nick will always continue to be amazed by abstract mathematics, in particular number theory, but he is also cultivating interests in data engineering and analytics.

Rev. Bob Swain minister

Minister Emeritus
The Reverend Bob Swain 

Our Minister Emeritus, the Rev. Robert Swain, served UU churches for nearly three decades – in the Pacific Northwest (Bellingham and Eugene), Westport, and Knoxville, TN – before coming to SUUS, part-time, in 1992. That was his “first retirement.” (Most of the week he ran a small computer graphics business in Monroe, where he and Wendy lived then.) In Madison, Bob was thus principally a preacher, with just one day a week in the office plus occasional weddings and memorial services.

After graduating from Tufts University, Bob started his ministerial career representing the UUA in Japan. An avowed Buddhist Unitarian throughout his career, he was principally known as a social activist and a specialist in world religions, although for a few years in Knoxville he became a local TV celebrity, too, interviewing religious figures for the Council of Christians and Jews. In the 1970s, Bob was a UUA trustee as well, representing the Pacific Northwest District.

Board of Trustees

The Congregation is governed by a Board of Trustees who is elected annually. The Board of Trustees has the responsibility of managing the financial affairs of the Society. They create policy and procedures, plan for the future, and work closely with committees, staff and the minister to create an environment of collaboration and cooperation.

SUUS Board of Trustees, 2021-2022

Sue Schaedler, Gary Feder – Co-Chairs
Ann Bowdler – Secretary
Neil Schultes –  Treasurer
Andrea Scranton – Member-at-Large
Bill Waltrip  – Member-at-Large
Mike Rosen – Member-at-Large

Church Committees

The Church Committees, along with the staff, are responsible for the day-to-day running of the Society. These volunteers are the backbone of this congregation and keep SUUS living its mission.

Communications Team

The Communications Team facilitates getting information to its members through weekly emails, social media, and our website. They are also involved with increasing the visibility of SUUS in the community with press releases and publicity.
Chair: Ellen Creane

Congregational Life

Is a committee comprised of three subcommittees:  Membership, Caring and Stewardship.

Membership is responsible for welcoming all, members, friends and visitors and assisting those new to the church to feel connected and get to know others.  They provide information and programs for those seeking to better understand the UU faith and what SUUS has to offer them as a faith community.  they provide guidance in the process to become a member.

Caring is responsible for providing meals, phone calls, visits, and rides to members as the needs arise.
Co-Chairs: Jennifer Farmer-Etzel and Alice Fleming

Faith Formation

The Faith Formation Committee, working with the Director of Faith Formation, oversees all religious educational activities for children and youth. The F.F. Committee is responsible for establishing a calendar for the year in collaboration with the Minister, Sunday Services and Music Committees. Other duties include recruiting and training of teachers, advisers and facilitators for F.F. programming; maintaining communication with teachers, advisers, facilitators, parents, and the congregation; and encouraging participation in F.F. programs.
Chairs: Kathy Helmrich and Scott & Jennifer Swenson


The Finance Committee, in conjunction with the Board of Trustees, has the responsibility for the finances (budget and generating revenue) of the Society in support of its mission and vision. It coordinates with the Board, and to support their work and, in conjunction with the Treasurer, plans the annual operating and capital budgets based on these needs. All committees wanting to raise funds will advise the Finance Committee of their plans and schedules.
Co-Chairs:   Neil Schultes, Mary Strieff


Provides hospitality for special events at SUUS such as memorial receptions for SUUS members, friends and families, and occasional special events hosting of District, Ministerial or Interfaith meetings and special gatherings of the congregation.
Chair: Tracy Ernst

House and Grounds

Takes responsibility for all buildings and property owned by SUUS, carries out repairs, maintenance and/or arranges for outside contractors to come in as needed. Decorating is also under the umbrella of H&G.
Chair: Chris Jobson

Memorial Garden

Maintains the Douglas A. Farmer, Jr. Memorial Garden, and works with Minister and families to plan and perform Memorial Services and interment services in the Memorial Garden.
Chair: Stephanie Warren


The Nominating Committee assembles and presents the slates of Board Officers and Trustees, and Standing Committee Chairs that are voted on by the congregation at the Annual Meeting.
Members: TBA

Safer Congregations

This Committee’s purpose is to publish and implement a set of policy and procedures that will help us to create and sustain an environment in which all who participate in activities of this society and all who use this society’s facilities are physically and emotionally safe. The committee will document and oversee policy and procedures for: Child Abuse Prevention, Code of Ethics for Adults and Youth working with children and youth, Congregation Behavioral Covenant, Sexual Harassment Prevention, Building and Grounds Safety.
Acting Chairs: TBA

Social Events & Activities

Plans and presents programs that celebrate our UU community in order to foster friendship and to promote an extended sense of fellowship and community. These events give us a chance to share our views and/or highlight our talents across the ages.
Co-Chairs: Kathy Helmrich, Lindalea Ludwick

Social Justice

Informs and educates the congregation in areas of social justice, identifies ways to promote social change, sponsors and/or supports groups and causes organized for social justice.  They encourage members to participate in local and global activities that support our Principles and Values.
Chair: TBA


The Stewardship Team is charged with cultivating a culture of abundance and encouraging spiritual development by providing opportunities for deepening generosity. It will work with the minister, staff, board, committees and congregation to offer events, workshops, conversations, and services in which the concept of generosity becomes integrated into the SUUS culture. In addition, it will build supporting task forces to carry out programs such as: annual pledge drives, capital campaigns, planned giving, estate planning, and fundraising.
Chair, Mary Strieff

Worship Committee

Works with the minister to plan and coordinate all Sunday Services at SUUS.
Acting Chair: Jere Armen

Inclement Weather Procedures


Inclement Weather on a Sunday morning???

If you wake up on Sunday and there is inclement weather, and you are not sure whether or not there will be a worship service, check this page for our inclement weather procedure…

AFTER 8:00 a.m.

1. Call SUUS:  (203-245-8720) and listen for an updated phone message.

2. Check the home page of the SUUS website:

3. Check television:   (WFSB News Channel 3) for cancellation information

Communication Guidelines

This is a check list for those who sponsor and create events and programs.

1)  If you have a SUUS meeting or event you wish listed on the SUUS calendar, send “What, When, Where, and Who (which SUUS member is in charge) to    Please put Calendar Listing in the subject line.  Our Congregational Administrator will get back to you whether that the date, time and room is available.  Then it will be posted on the website calendar and will appear in the Weekly News during the week of the event.

2)  If you have a SUUS meeting, event, program or announcement you wish to be posted in the Weekly News and the Sunday Announcements, check availability with the Congregational Administrator and send completed copy that includes What, When, Where, Who (which SUUS member is responsible) and necessary details to  Please put Weekly News in the subject line.  If appropriate, once a post has been published, it will be sent to the SUUS Facebook page and from there it will travel all around the world.  Deadline for the Weekly News is 10am, Wednesday morning.  

3)   If you want to list your item in both the SUUS Calendar and the Weekly News, see 1 & 2 above and put Calendar & Weekly News in the subject line!

4)  If you have an oral announcement for Sunday morning, print it out and give or send to the office.  Deadline is 9am Thursday, in order for it make it into the lay leader’s folder.

5)  If you have a poster or flyer, please use the appropriate bulletin boards in the coffee room.  For safety reasons, nothing is to be posted on the entry glass doors or the coffee room doors.

6)  The Chairs of the Congregational Life Committee and the Greeters are in charge of what is displayed in the foyer.  Please see them if you have a special request.

In addition, data shows that personal contact and talking to people in person is 15x more effective than advertising! If you are hosting an event – identify your likely audience and talk with them!  Thanks to all for making SUUS such an energized and vital place!

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