Meet Our Minister

HomeThe Unitarian Society of Hartford has a long tradition of lay-led worship services. Worship Associates take a lead role planning and facilitating every Sunday service. They serve as pulpit guests during the summer, and any other time the minister is unavailable. USH services led by Worship Associates can be viewed on the sermon page here.

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Meet Our Minister: Rev. Bob Janis-Dillon
In 2023 USH rolls out the red carpet for our new minister, Rev. Bob Janis-Dillon. Bob is a native son. A lifelong UU, he grew up at the Universalist Church of West Hartford on Fern Street. He credits his childhood religious education program and high school youth group as being formative. He said that volunteering at the Fern Street church made it apparent how much congregations can be a place of authenticity, meaning-making, and community – all things that Bob values highly.
Bob received a degree in English Literature and Philosophy from Birmingham University in England, a Masters in Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, and spiritual direction training from Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, PA. He’s been a Unitarian Universalist minister since 2007, fully fellowshipped since 2011. He has served congregations in New Jersey and Merseyside, England and most recently in the Hudson Valley at the UU Congregation of the Catskills in Kingston, NY.
Bob is a devoted Dad with two kids who are 10 and 13 years old. He loves to spend time with his family, read, write, hike, and, by his own admission, play guitar badly. Bob is a published poet. You can read some of his devotional poetry and other musings here. You’ll also find lots of other information about Bob there and links to sermons he has given.
Bob has said, “Fundamentally, I believe the best ministry is shared ministry.” Here at USH, having been on our own without a minister for over a year, we have, of necessity but also out of joy, developed strong lay leadership. We promise to go easy on Bob while he gets used to sharing his ministry with us!
Our Worship Associates have ably filled the pulpit Sunday after Sunday and this continues twice a month during Bob’s ministry. He is our full-time minister, preaching two Sundays per month. Bob’s approach to preaching is at the heart of his ministry. He said, “I believe that worship is something deeply significant: an affirmation of our most closely-held values; an evocation of gratitude and wonder; an embodiment of beloved community; or to put it in theological metaphor, a rehearsal for the kingdom of heaven.”
He also enjoys pastoral care, believing in the value of showing up, being a gentle witness, and listening without judgment to the beloved other in the presence of the sacred.
Additionally, Bob believes that a minister is a representative of his UU congregation and can transmit its message of diversity and justice in a personal way to those who may never have dreamt of going into a church building, much less one that looks like a spaceship! He has been involved with interfaith groups as well as taking part in many secular, civil, government, and interfaith justice initiatives. When asked what he hopes is ahead for him, Bob said, “I am hoping to serve a church that is aware of its unique gifts and challenges. I want to be with people who are friendly, kind, and imperfect, and expect the same for myself. I want to be with people who are open to wonder and want to make a positive difference in the world.”
That sounds like us: friendly, kind, and imperfect.
                                                                                   ~  Judy Robbins