About Our Community
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.
SUUS Minister and Staff
About Our Minister
The Reverend Terry Sweetser
The board of trustees is thrilled to introduce our Transitional Minister, the Reverend Terry Sweetser.
A graduate of the Harvard Divinity School, Rev. Terry has been a Unitarian Universalist all his life and a minister since 1974. He has worked with countless congregations of varying sizes – including ones similar to ours. In addition to his work with congregations, he has held several positions with our UUA in Boston, including ten years as Vice President for Stewardship and Development.
Our contract with Rev. Terry runs through June 2021 and he will minister to us from his home in Rockland, ME as we continue to follow our COVID-19 protocols. In addition to working with Rev. Jeanne and our staff, he will work closely with the Board of Trustees to establish key objectives for his time with us. Please join us in welcoming the Rev. Terry Sweetser to our congregation.
Rev. Jeanne was unanimously called by this congregation on May 6, 2016, and retired on November 22, 2020.
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.
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, 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.
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, 2020-2021
Mary Strieff – President
Jenny Lee – Past President
Sue Schaedler – Vice President/Council Chair
Sue Rosen – Secretary
Neil Schultes – Treasurer
Kathy Helmrich – Member-at-Large
Liz Miranker – Member-at-Large
Gary Feder- Member-at-Large
Rev. Terry Sweetser – Minister
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.
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
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
The trustees are elected by the congregation to manage the Fred Keefe Endowment Fund. They report quarterly to the Board of Trustees. Each January they share with the Board the amount available for grants for the coming year. Grant proposals are reviewed by an ad-hoc committee and final recommendations are voted on by the congregation at the Annual Meeting in the spring.
Trustees: John Porter, Jennifer Farmer-Etzel, John Bowdren
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 Benna Lehrer
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
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: Sue Schaedler, Jennifer Farmer-Etzel, Kaye Larson
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: Sue Schaedler & Liz Miranker
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: Maryann Bracken, Kathy Helmrich, Lindalea Ludwick
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.
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, endowment, and fundraising.
Chair, Mary Strieff
Works with the minister to plan and coordinate all Sunday Services at SUUS.
Acting Chair: Elise Morrison
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: www.shorelineunitarian.org
3. Check television: (WFSB News Channel 3) for cancellation information
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.