On Sunday, April 15, the members and guests of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair (UUCM) will formally install their new senior co-ministers, married couple Reverend Anya Sammler-Michael and Reverend Scott Sammler-Michael, from 4-5:30 pm in the Sanctuary at 67 Church Street, Montclair, NJ. The installation ceremony is a celebration that the larger community is invited to attend and will include distinguished guests including ministers from other Unitarian Universalist congregations, clergy from other faith traditions and members of UUCM. Reverend John T. Crestwell, Minister of Outreach, Leadership and Evangelism at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, will conduct the sermon. A formal procession of visiting clergy and Revs Sammler-Michael, will kick off the festivities in high style, and music will be performed throughout the service by the Congregation’s members and Chalice choir.
The Installation follows a two-year search for a new minister, following the retirement of Minister Emeritus Charles B. Ortman in 2016 and a multi-year interim term by Rev. Dr. Justin Ostermann. The UUCM is proud to have had spiritual leaders who have planted decades-long roots in the local community, with careers at UUCM that have spanned 20 years or more, in some cases. Installation formally marks that the Ministers are “settled” leaders of UUCM, and that they partner with the Congregation in a shared spiritual journey. As is custom by UU standards, Reverends Sammler-Michael were voted into their roles by UUCM members in Spring 2017 (a near-unanimous vote is required), and the couple officially began their UUCM tenure in August last year.
Prior to moving to Montclair, the Reverends each served a decade at separate UU congregations in Virginia, Reverend Scott at Accotink Unitarian Universalist Church of Burke and Reverend Anya at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling. The seeds of co-ministry began as a long-term goal when they were in seminary together at Meadville Lombard Theological School, but they were advised on the importance of leading their own congregations first.
Rev. Anya has received awards and recognition for her interfaith work and has been elected by her colleagues to serve twice on the chapter executive team. Barack and Michelle Obama had her offer invocations at campaign events.
Rev. Scott founded TUUL-Belt Ministries, a practical ministry training people with construction experience to respond to natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina. He is the 2011 recipient of the Outstanding Contribution by a Minister Award from the Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice and working with V.O.I.C.E., a congregation-based community organization, he helped secure $60 million in relief for homeowners defrauded in the Mortgage Crisis.
Photo (Reverend Scott Sammler-Michael, Reverend Anya Sammler-Michael): Lianne Schoenweisner/Spotlight Photography.