Canton's Unitarian Universalist Church says goodbye to its director of religious education
Monday, June 23, 2014 - 11:30 am

CANTON -- On Sunday, the congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Church, 3 ½ East Main St., bid farewell to the long-time Director of Religious Education.

Jan Hutslar of Pyrites, who has been the church’s Sunday school program leader for more than 12 years, is embarking on a new journey. In September she will begin classes at the Starr King School for Ministry in Berkley, California.

“I followed my heart to this job in 2001,” says Jan of her role at Canton’s UU Church. As an environmental educator, children’s librarian, community volunteer, and parent, she says it was a great match, and it has been “a privilege to work with the children, youth, staff, and volunteers of this church.”

She will leave the North Country in the fall to pursue ministerial studies at Starr King, a seminary that educates Unitarian Universalist ministers, religious educators, and spiritual activists, as well as progressive religious leaders from a variety of traditions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, earth-centered traditions, and others.

Jan says, “I believe I have grown into my calling, through developing skills born of a loving supportive congregation and trusting the path I feel called to follow. This congregation is the family that raised me to be ready to follow this path, by affirming me, allowing me, celebrating my successes, and forgiving my many mistakes. They have encouraged and empowered me.”

The Canton congregation is officially sponsoring Jan’s ministerial candidacy at Starr King. “Jan feels called to ministry, in large part because of her experience with this congregation,” says the church’s minister, Joel Miller. “The congregation has experienced Jan’s ministry through her work in religious education, so they are committed to supporting her journey.”

Community and church friends have shown their support through a number of fundraising “house concerts,” and many in the church are expressing their enthusiasm for Jan’s journey with financial contributions.

At Sunday morning’s worship service, called “Sent with Love,” the congregation formally “released” Hutslar from her service as Director of Religious Education, “sending” her to Starr King School with support from the congregation. Blessings from the UU Church’s Ministers Emeriti Revs. Anne Marsh and Wade Wheelock were delivered via video from their home in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Prayer, song, and love were shared by Rev. Kathleen Buckley, Chaplain at St. Lawrence University, and Rev. Shaun Whitehead, St. Lawrence Associate Chaplain, and the entire congregation in a moving and heartfelt ceremony.

The service and ceremony was followed by a send-off party in the church’s social hall.

The church welcomes all to Sunday services and religious education for children at 10 a.m. To learn more, visit www.uucantonny.org.