BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Staff

Reverend Dr. Susan Veronica Rak – Interim Minister

img_6997Rev. Dr. Rak has been a Unitarian Universalist since the early 70’s and Unitarian Universalist Minister since 1996.

Reverend Dr. Rak was raised in New Jersey and attended Glassboro State College (now Rowan University), studying art with an eye toward later focusing on art history.
In 1981 she began working as a Director of Religious Education at the First Unitarian Society of Albany NY, where she began professional training in the Unitarian Universalist Association’s newly developed “Renaissance” program. She served on the UUA R.E. Futures committee and the Saint Lawrence District Religious Education Committee. Toward the end of her time in Albany, she entered the UUA’s Independent Study Program in preparation for the Ministry of Religious Education.

After relocating with her family to Delaware, Rev. Dr. Rak continued work as a religious educator at the UU Fellowship of Newark DE and then the Unitarian Universalist Church in Cherry Hill NJ, continuing her involvement in District R.E. activities. She enrolled in Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster PA, joining several other UU’s completing Masters of Divinity degrees there. She also pursued studies in ministry thorough Meadville-Lombard Theological School’s “modified residency program”. Her “call” to ministry turned in its focus from religious education to the preaching ministry of the parish. She completed her internship at Cherry Hill, graduated from Lancaster Theological and was ordained to the parish ministry by that congregation in May 1996.

Rev. Dr. Rak continued her professional development and pursued a Doctor of Ministry degree at Meadville-Lombard Theological School. Her doctoral project explored the theological tensions that exist with our Unitarian Universalist congregations and the presented thesis is entitled “What’s God Got to Do with It? Living and Loving the Tension of Unitarian Universalist Theological Pluralism”. She was awarded the degree of Doctor of Ministry in May 2009.

After ordination, her ministerial experience includes serving the Community Church of New York as Interim Associate Minister (1996-97); the UU Fellowship of Lower Bucks (Levittown PA, 1997-98); the Unitarian Universalist Association (as Program Consultant for the Joseph Priestley District, 1997-2001); the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Bridgeport (Stratford CT, 2001-03); Unitarian Universalist Church of Flushing, NY (where she aided in the consolidation of the Flushing and Hollis congregations, forming the UU Congregation of Queens, 2003-05); The Unitarian Society (East Brunswick, NJ, 2005-2014). And more recently, she served as interim minister at The First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia from 2014-2016.

As an Interim Minister, she has put into practice all the skills and learnings from these varied experiences as a Unitarian Universalist leader, both lay and ordained.

Dawn Star Sarahs-Borchelt – Director of Religious Education

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 6.25.18 AMDawn Star is a third-generation Unitarian Universalist who was born and raised at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration in Mt. Airy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was homeschooled and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, Annapolis in 1998. Dawn Star is a Credentialed Religious Educator through the Unitarian Universalist Association and has previously served as the Director of Religious Education at Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church in Camp Springs, Maryland; as Youth Ministry Coordinator at All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, DC and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring, Maryland; and as Religious Education Consultant to Goodloe Memorial Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bowie, Maryland. She has provided leadership in local, district, and national religious education organizations; and is currently an Adjunct Staff member for the Joseph Priestley District.

Dawn Star is also a Birthing From Within Mentor (Childbirth Educator) and Doula teaching group classes and taking private clients for home, birth center, and hospital births.

Dawn Star has served BuxMont since 2010. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Matt and their children: Wolfgang, Robin, Daysi, and Juniper.

John Hook – Music Director

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 1.27.11 AMJohn Hook founded the BuxMont Choir in 1990. John recently retired from his ’day job’ as a chemist with The Dow Chemical Company (formerly Rohm and Haas) where he developed new products which helped significantly lower the environmental impact of latex paints and other coatings while enhancing performance. John became interested in folk music at a Methodist youth camp, traded a never-well-played trombone for a guitar, and found his true musical love: helping groups make music together. In college he was inspired by Bryan Bowers to learn melodic-style autoharp. John joined BuxMont in the early 1980s and helped its Religious Education program as a teacher, song leader, and youth advisor. At one youth “Con” he met a visiting youth who also played melodic autoharp; that youth grew up and is now our minister, the Rev. Dan Schatz. At the national level, John served on the board of the Unitarian Universalist Musicians’ Network (UUMN) and helped to develop the UUA’s Music Leadership Credentialing Program. John has studied voice with Robert Wallace and John Kennedy at the Settlement Music School.

Howard Bennett – Membership Coordinator

BENNETT-HOWARD-99Howard found Unitarianism in 1950 when a classmate invited him to a Christmas Eve service at the Unitarian Society of Germantown. While this did not cause an immediate transformation from anti religion to Unitarianism, it started the process. Subsequent visits kindled the flame. A four-year stint in the
army made him a lost soul again, and he remained that way, avoiding religion until 1975 when he married a Lutheran woman. That began a series of visits to Lutheran churches trying to find a fit. One Sunday they missed the Lutheran church by one block and found themselves at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Lower Bucks in Fairless Hills. The error reignited the flame. For almost a year, they attended two church services every Sunday until Leigh-Ann decided she, too, was Unitarian Universalist. Thus began fourteen years in a Fellowship where Howard served as unpaid Director of Religious Education for some of those years and as Treasurer for all of them.

In 1989, Howard joined the Unitarian Universalist Church at Washington Crossing. This church had a real religious education program because there were many children in the congregation. Again, he became Treasurer, a job he held for about fifteen years. While at Washington Crossing, Howard taught in children’s religious education and, at various times was Membership Chair, Fellowship Chair and Religious Education Committee Chair.

Howard came to BuxMont in 2004 when he and Leigh-Ann moved into Warminster. He serves as Membership Coordinator and has been active in the RE program and continued teaching until this year. He was on the Murray Grove Board for nine years, three of them as chair.  He was also a member of the Joseph Priestley District Growth Committee for several years and the Metro New York Growth Committee. Howard writes, “I have always been a Unitarian Universalist, but there were periods in my life that I was not aware of it.

AmyBeth Gibbs – Administrator

2011-09-30 AmyBeth Portriat2AmyBeth became a member of BuxMont U.U. in 2008 and the Fellowship’s Administrator in 2009.  Her focus is on being a hub of information for the Fellowship.  She also volunteers in RE with the older Youth, facilitates the Spiritual Parenting Group, participates in Gaia’s Rainbow and sings with the Treblemakers.

AmyBeth has lived in Bucks County for most of her life, and completed her BSED at Kutztown University.  She has dedicated much of her career to the not-for-profit sector, and spent seven years working for the American Red Cross in Pennsylvania and Connecticut prior to accepting the position at BuxMont.  She has also volunteered with the Girl Scouts, community theaters and the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce.

Outside of BuxMont, AmyBeth is also the co-owner of Gibbs Chiropractic & Wellness, LLC, and is a trained Massage Therapist.  She also enjoys drawing, photography, writing, theatre, history, and reading.  She lives in upper Bucks with her husband, son and a one-eyed cat.

Board of Trustees

President Howard Barkan
Vice President Rick Anderson
V.P. of Finance Dick Irwin
Secretary John Miller
Trustee/Council Karen Reever
Trustee at Large Martin Kaplan
Trustee at Large Tom Thomas
Treasurer Jerry Johnson

Contact

Interim Minister:
Reverend Dr. Susan Veronica Rak
revrak@buxmontuu.org

Administrator:
AmyBeth Gibbs
administrator@buxmontuu.org
(215) 343-0406

Director of Religious Education:
Dawn Star Sarahs-Borchelt
dre@buxmontuu.org

Music Director:
John Hook
jhook@buxmontuu.org

Membership Coordinator:
Howard Bennett
membership@buxmontuu.org