Getting to Know SUUS
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. This section is designed to help you learn about Shoreline UU and what to expect when you visit.
Voices of a Liberal Faith
Unitarian Universalism is a religion that embraces heart and mind. We believe that each person has the right to determine what is true and right as a responsible member of a community of faith. We date back to the Reformation nearly 500 years ago in Eastern Europe. Coming out of the Enlightenment, we welcome reason and science along with the wonder and hope of many beliefs ranging from humanism, liberal Christianity and Judaism to Buddhism and Paganism and Atheism. Our faith draws on many religious traditions, welcoming people with different beliefs.
Where are you located?
We are located at 297 Boston Post Road (Route 1) in Madison, Connecticut. You can find driving directions and a map here.
How can I contact you?
For more information, please call the Church office and we will be happy to speak with you and answer any questions. Our phone number is (203) 245-8720. You can also email us for more information.
Does your congregation have diverse beliefs?
Yes! Our congregation includes people who identify as Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Pagans, Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists, and others. As there is no official Unitarian Universalist creed, we are free to search for truth on many paths. To quote the Rev. Marta Flanagan, “We uphold the free search for truth. We will not be bound by a statement of belief. We do not ask anyone to subscribe to a creed. We say ours is a non-creedal religion. Ours is a free faith.”
Do you welcome LGBTQ?
Yes. We have been certified by the UUA as a Welcoming Congregation since 1993. This means that Shoreline UU members have studied issues relating to the LGBTQ community and actively support and work on LGBTQ justice issues.
Also, the Unitarian Universalist Association expects all of its member congregations to be welcoming to individuals and families regardless of sexual or affectional orientation, gender identity or expression, race or ethnicity, ability/disability, class, age, or language and citizenship status.
Is your church accessible?
Yes with some limitations. Our accessibility ramps let you enter through our Fellowship Hall or through our front door. A bathroom on the main level and one in the Fellowship Hall are handicap-accessible. There is also a chair-lift for access from the Fellowship Hall to our main floor. Access through our front door is limited for some wheelchairs due to a narrow doorway at the current time. Our Faith Formation classrooms are on the upper floors and not wheelchair accessible.
What other accessibility issues have you addressed?
We have a sound system equipped with assisted listening devices. Please let a greeter know if one of these would be helpful to you. We also have magnifiers to help with those who need larger print to read the bulletins or hymnals.
What happens during your worship services?
Most of our services include the following:
- Most Sundays begin with music before the service
- Chalice lighting and opening words
- Story for all ages
- Sharing of Joys and Concerns
- Instrumental and vocal music
- A sermon or reflections
- Singing of hymns or other songs
- Closing words and extinguishing the chalice
Our services are coordinated by our minister, our and our Worship Associates. Some of our lay led services feature talks on a variety of topics by members of our congregation, outside speakers and UU ministers.
What do children do during the service?
Childcare will be provided on Faith Formation Sundays only. We encourage all families to participate in whole congregation worship for multigenerational services. Children ages preK and younger can sign-in with Childcare Assistant at 10:15pm in the Fellowship Hall. Parents/Guardians will need to sign children out after worship. Our older children will go to their classrooms or outside for exploration and UU related projects.
What do adults and children wear?
We encourage you to “come as you are.” You will see adults wearing t-shirts and jeans and sports coats and ties, pants and dresses, sandals and shorts. Children should wear whatever makes them comfortable: play clothes and sneakers are just fine. Projects for some classes may involve markers, paint, and clay, or cooking, and in nice weather the children sometimes go outside.
How can I contact you?
For more information, please call the church office and we will be happy to speak with you and answer any questions. Our phone is (203) 245-8720. You can also email us for more information.
History of the Shoreline Unitarian Universalist
Founded in 1962 by 40 Shoreline residents, meetings of the Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Society were first held in the historic Griswold House in Guilford, Connecticut. Soon after, in 1968, the expanding group purchased our present church home in the neighboring town of Madison, Connecticut. Our services were initially held in the living room of the house, while the present meeting room and the multi-use coffee room downstairs were added in 1985.
With increased enrollment in the religious education program, additional expansion at Shoreline Unitarian took place in the mid 1990’s. The former kitchen and library were converted into a classroom and an office for the Minister, and the kitchen in the downstairs coffee room was modernized. The original living room, where our services were first held, is now used for meetings and small gatherings.
The Douglas A. Farmer, Jr. Memorial Garden, a repository for the cremation remains of former SUUS members and family members as well as a place of contemplation, was constructed and dedicated in 1997.
The congregation’s first part time minister, the Rev. Mounir Sa’Adah, was called in 1964. He was followed by the Rev. Phillip Robinson, the Rev. Kathleen (“Katy”) Korb, the Rev. Charles Herrick, the Rev. Ellen Johnson-Fay, the Rev. David Nelson (Interim), the Rev. Robert Swain, the Rev. Judy Osgood (Interim) and in 2001, the Rev. Kim Wilson. Our first full-time minister was the Rev. Claudia Elferdink who retired in 2014. SUUS was then served by Interim Minister, Rev. Lyn Oglesby, until our members called the Rev. Jeanne Lloyd in 2016. Rev. Jeanne retired in the fall of 2020. Rev. Terry Sweetser served our congregation as Contract Minister from 2020 until June 2022, and Rev. Jade Benson served us in 2022023, We are thrilled to welcome our current Contract Minister, the Rev. Craig M. Nowak..
Our active, vibrant, and diverse congregation continues to grow and our staff now includes a Director Faith Formation, Congregational Administrator, Music Leader, and Pianist.
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:
- Act with good will and stay in relationship
- Listen deeply and assume good intentions
- Be open to change
- Maintain mutual respect
- Take concerns to the person(s) involved
- Share strengths, talents, and resources
- Support each other in living this covenant
When resolution is elusive, seek help from the Committee on Healthy Relationships
Accepted by the Congregation on 11/17/2019