Complete Response: “Lundy’s Landmark Overflows—with Love”

It’s absolutely true that it’s a unique building—that’s apparent from the street. You ought to come inside and experience the people! While we were pleased to see, in the December 18th article on “Lundy’s Landmark,” the architectural distinctness of the Unitarian Meeting House (at the corner of Bloomfield and Albany Avenues) lifted up, we are disappointed that practically nothing was mentioned about the spirit of the current congregation that gathers within its striking walls.

We’ve heard detailed stories about the leaky roof, as perhaps many of your readers have, and it’s clear to us that it’s not nearly as bad as it once was, many years ago. It’s a quirky building, yes, but over the past fifty years its users have figured out how to care for it like the fine instruments (Steinway grand piano, Austin organ, and newly cushioned pews and chairs) that are housed inside. The Sanctuary is beautiful and peaceful and the original architectural elements of slender wood slats between the concrete piers bring about a gorgeous, quieting delicacy.

Most importantly — and most absent a mention in the December 18th column—is the warmth of the community that gathers here. Come visit any Sunday at 10:30 AM and you will be heartily welcomed by a lively intergenerational cadre of free-thinkers from 4-months-old to 97 years. Here is a place where people are encouraged to ask questions, to engage with their whole minds and hearts, to learn from one another of all ages, to rethink life-long assumptions, to care for each other regardless of whether or not we all agree, and to engage in social justice work, service, and action in our larger community, together. Support of our neighboring Village for Families and Children, engagement in the Noah Webster School’s Tutoring Program, and active participation in recent efforts to bring about racial justice in Hartford and beyond all mean that our energy and efforts extend far beyond the Meeting House building. We are a justice-seeking community committed to radical welcome. What happens here, within and because of this place, is as important as its distinctive shape.

We would also like to correct Crosbie’s depiction that it’s cold in here. A recently upgraded multi-zone heating system, ample space heaters, energetic singing, and frequent hearty doses of chocolate and laughter combine to insure that we are cozy and comfortable. And when and if it does get cold, we will remind ourselves what one congregant informed us early on—twenty laps around the ambulatory makes a mile. What other church can you think of with an indoor footpath that is also a well-curated ever-changing art gallery featuring Hartford-area artists?

As far as it being the 50th anniversary of the Meeting House (this congregation’s fourth home since its founding in 1830), we will be having a festive and playful 50th Birthday Party on the afternoon of January 17th, 2015, and all are welcome.

There are so many marvelous and meaningful things that go on here—Great Discussions, Performing Arts events, Conversations on Race, classes and community for all ages of children & youth, Meditation, Non-violent Communication practice groups, Qi-Gong practice, Artists Way sessions, Book Club, Ballroom Dance, Women’s Alliance, Twenties-and-Thirties Group, a “U(nitarian) U(niversalist) Ukes” (ukeleke) class starting up in February, two services next Wednesday evening for Christmas Eve, and so much more.

In line with our Unitarian Universalist identity as a “living,” ever-evolving faith tradition, during our 50 years here in the Meeting House, this congregation has become a Welcoming Congregation (intentionally welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and families), a Green Sanctuary (committed to being as environmentally sustainable as possible), and is fully handicapped accessible (yes, the spaceship has an elevator!). Our website is one place to start exploring if you’re hesitant about just dropping by in person. We write all this because while we appreciate that it takes less than five seconds to describe to people where the church that we serve is located (“on the corner of Bloomfield & Albany, it looks like a spaceship”), it seems that many people drive by often (like Michael Crosbie) but have rarely, if ever, come inside. If we had a nickel for every one who said “oh, I’ve alwayswondered what goes on in there!” we could … well, we could, at the very least, paint the Meeting House red. Maybe, someday!

For now, we invite you to come on by and—actually come in! And check us out. We are “the spaceship,” “the big tent,” or perhaps now, thanks to Michael Crosbie, “the lotus blossom.” What matters most is that we are a community of independent minds who have found a common purpose in caring for one another and striving for a better world, together. We welcome you to venture inside—and see what—and who—you find.

—Revs. Cathy and Heather Rion Starr