Rev. Dr. Jan Carlsson-Bull
Rev. Dr. Jan Carlsson-Bull was called by UUMeriden in 2012 as its first full-time settled minister in almost 50 years. Jan generally leads our Sunday worship services three Sundays a month, with guest speakers and lay-led services filling in the remainder.
"It’s now been over two years since I arrived as minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden. What a time it has been for all of us - abundant with the blessings of your energy and commitment to this congregation and the faith that we share. Yes, we are growing in numbers; but most importantly, we are growing in the spirit and deed of being together in a covenant grounded in the tough work of love and stretching our spirits and deeds into the larger community through collaborations of worship, faith driven justice making, religious education, and deeper connections with our UU world. We seek to sustain what grows our souls from generation to generation and to imagine and innovate along a path honoring the sacred within and beyond us. We are on this journey together, and I hope those of you who read this will come and experience this adventure of living our faith in community and, if you are already on board, that you will bring your friends and neighbors who are yet in search.”
A prime opportunity to "come and experience this adventure of living our faith in community " is next Sunday's worship at 10:30 am from September through June and at 10:00 am during June and July and Labor Day Sunday. Religious education for children and youth happens all year long. Childcare is provided for our youngest. Adult education intensifies during the September through June year. Opportunities to live our faith transcend the seasons. Refreshments, fellowship, and reflection and dialogue follow every service.
Ah yes, who is Rev. Jan? Where does she come from? What has she done? And what are her hopes and dreams for this church in this community?
Jan was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister in 1999 at the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City, where she served as Assistant Minister, from 1997 through 2004. Her initial mentors include Rev. Victor Carpenter; the late Rev. Dr. Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley; the late Rev. Dr. Forrest Church; and Rev. Richard Leonard, Minister Emeritus of All Souls. One of the inspirations for Jan going to seminary many years earlier was the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr., who preached Jan's ordination sermon at All Souls.
Social justice and pastoral care were her primary ministerial portfolios at All Souls. In the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001, she served at Ground Zero and at the city's Family Assistance Centers as chaplain and was a charter member of the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry.
In 2004 her desire for her own congregation took her to First Parish in Cohasset, MA, where she served for six years. There she launched Small Group Ministry, which is still thriving, and was active in multiple community and regional justice ministries. From 2010 through July of 2012, she served as Interim Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills in Kingston, NY, a congregation she guided across the bridge between settled ministers. Additionally she was active in interfaith work and launched a Worship Associates program. With abundant energy and ideas yet to realize, she searched for a church with an equal commitment to justice and spirited worship. She found it here in Meriden
Amid her introduction to this community with her husband, Daniel Bull, Jan was invited to offer the invocation at Meriden's Puerto Rican Festival on August 12. "What an honor this was, to stand alongside Meriden Police Officer Hector Cardona and bestow a blessing on this annual celebration of all among us with such a rich heritage and culture. I went out on a limb and promised to know Spanish by this time next year!" Says Jan a year later: “I’m working on it! A promise is a promise!”
Since arriving here, she has become active in this congregation’s commitment to immigrant rights through UACT (United Action Connecticut), racial justice through this congregation’s first anti-racism workshop and our collaboration with community leaders on anti-racism work, LGBTQ rights, interfaith activity through the Meriden Clergy Association and the Middletown Interfaith Group, and the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care. Additionally she serves on the Regional Advisory Council of Middlesex Community College (MxCC) and delivered the benediction at MxCC’s commencement ceremony; is on Executive Committee of the Clara Barton District UUMA (Ministers’ Association); and has led a number of congregation-based workshops. She is excited this coming year to commit at least three Sundays to presence with our RE youngsters, while the worship service is lay-led.
One of our most memorable experiences together is the installation of Jan as our settled minister on June 3, 2013. This was a celebration for every member and friend of this congregation and drew inspiring guest participants from the larger community and our UU world
Rev. Dr. Carlsson-Bull holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Colorado/Boulder; a M.Div. (Master's of Divinity) from Union Theological Seminary, New York City; and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva University, New York City. Jan's family, "blended like most congregations," are her pride and joy - her husband, Dr. Daniel Bull, a retired chemical engineer with two patents in the biotechnology field; and their adult daughters Shana, Sarah, and Lisa and their partners; their "completely adorable grandchildren;" and Jan and Dan's beloved mutt, Google. In the larger UU World, Jan has served on the Unitarian Universalist Association's Commission on Social Witness, two years as chair; the Metro/NY District's Anti-Racism and Multicultural Task Force; the UU Trauma Response Ministry Board; and the UU Ministers' Association in a number of leadership capacities. Currently she is on the Board of the UU Small Group Ministry Network.
What are Rev. Dr. Carlsson-Bull's hopes and dreams for this church? To blossom in the spirit of shared ministry, knowing that each and all who partake of congregational life are engaged in ministry. As professional minister, Jan is here to lead, guide, and inspire; but in her words, "A congregation thrives when each and all discover the transforming quality of letting their light shine so that together we form a beacon that illumines within and beyond the walls of this church."
Rev. Dr. Jan Carlsson-Bull
with husband Daniel Bull