Rev. Rick Klimowicz
UUMeriden Community Minister
Professional ministry in Unitarian Universalism takes many forms. Along with parish based ministry, Unitarian Universalism recognizes a special role for ordained ministers working outside of congregations. UU community ministers may serve hospitals, universities, prisons, or military bases as chaplains. They may serve as an executive director of a non-profit or a community organizer. Some community ministers are helping professionals, working as licensed mental health counselors or certified teachers.
The Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden is proud to recgonize Rev. Rick Klimowicz as our affiliated community minister, a role he has held with this congregation since 2005.
Here in Rick's own words is his story:
I grew up in a traditional Roman Cathoic household in Northern New Jersey, but I grew disenchanted with this denomination as a young adult. I discovered Unitarian Universalism in this congregation in 1981, after graduating from Quinnipiac University with a BS in Occupational Therapy and after marrying my college sweet-heart. I was active for a few years here and in a UU congregation in Stratford. I pursued a MHS in Education at Quinnipiac, while working with the mentally ill in both private and public settings.
I joined my wife to Denver, where she pursued her studies and I continued to serve the mentally ill. I became quite active in a UU congregation there. I got disenchanted with psychiatric care. I started asking questions that I felt seminary might answer. I studied full-time in Denver at the Iliff School of Theology, while pursuing a part-time urban ministry affiliation and basic clinical pastoral education. I took several Meadville-Lombard Institutes outside Chicago and in DC and I pursued a parish internship at a UU congregation in Ann Arbor. I graduated Student of the Year. My Denver congregation ordained me. And I obtained preliminary fellowship with the UUA.
My ideal position out of seminary would have been as an assistant minister of life span RE, pastoral care, and social action. I worked 2 years in Albuquerque and 1 year in Cherry Hill, primarily involved with religious growth and learning. I also got a chance to serve a tiny UU congregation in South Jersey very part-time for 5 years, as their parish minister, while I worked as a vocational specialist/ team coordinator with homeless vets and while I directed an occupational therapy program at a large state hospital.
I now had two children David and Abby and my wife wanted us to return to CT to be near her family. After the move, I served briefly as an interim assistant minister at the UU congregation in Hamden, before finding employment as a clinical supervisor of case managers in an emergency shelter/ transitional living program and in a couple supported housing programs, affiliated with the Sisters of Mercy.
After seperation and divorce, I left this last position for financial reasons. My children slept on the floor of my tiny apartment for a while. I found an occupational therapy position on an inpatient behavioral health unit of a local community hospital and purchased a small condo. During this period, I looked for a UU congregation to affiliate with as a community minister and that would support my efforts to achieve final fellowship with the UUA. The UU congregation in Meriden welcomed me with open arms, just before the community moved into our current building in 2005.
I have dated and was re-married in the intervening years to Carol Adams. I share custody of my children and take full responsibility for their religious growth and development.
My model of community minister is having a full-time job with an outside institution and sharing that work with the congregation, as spelled out in a covenantal agreement. I emphasize the prophetic role. I speak truth to power in my service to those who suffer from mental illness on an inpatient behavioral health unit at a local community hospital, in my facilitation of our congregational mental health ministry task force, and in my organization of collections for the hungry and homeless. My community ministry involves advocacy and service, working with this congregation and through community organizations. I hope my ministry provides a visible, public witness for our UU principles in the world.
There is also a pastoral aspect to my work, caring for individuals, bringing healing and empowerment to those in need, and making faith visible in people’s lives. Moreover, I like to support and encourage people in seeking truth for themselves and apply what they learned to the way they live their lives through leading occasional religious growth and learning programs. And I preach about my community ministry and about other matters here and at another UU congregation, as well.
Generally, I seek to bring healing and justice into the world. I bear witness to planetary and human suffering, participate in its transformation, and affirm the inherent glory of life. Practically, my presence in our congregation provides much-needed support to the parish minister, to the DRE, and to the laity in taking our faith into local communities and into the wider world.