Message from the Minister


I recently was invited to participate in the Ohio-Meadville District Ministers retreat. One of my takeaways was being present to the deep questions in front of us, just under the surface.

With Passover, with Easter, with Ramadan and Eid—all so recent—it is easy to overlook the deep meaning of these traditions within the Abrahamic branches. There are so many ways to contemplate and reflect on them, and the recurring theme is resistance.

These questions were:
• What good inside of you is resisted by you?
• What obstacles are in your path along your journey that offer resistance to your travels and goals?
• Where do you find love in your self care/what lightens your load?

As you think through these questions, don’t just let a simple answer suffice. There is a tradition that I was taught while studying at Antioch—to ask ‘Why’ five times. Not just harnessing your inner two year old, it is a way to get to the core of an issue.

Words from Rumi to reflect upon:
Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder…

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing

Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure…

For each of us, I pray that old escapes into new and that we remember our connections to friends and neighbors and strangers, our connections to all life and all material. And that we find newness in life in this changing world. I hope May flowers find you and graduation parties allow you to celebrate accomplishment and to see loved ones.

— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister


As I watch our days increase, the rain and the clouds, and the culmination of both in our of late amazing sunsets, I cannot help but to think about the connection of all. We are material, matter, and so is the rock. We are alive, and so too is the bright green moss on the forest floor. We move and run and billow and crawl, so too does the wind. We frolic and play, so too does the doe.

At the same time of transition, I think about willful change and the vehicles we use for change. The seasons change and so do we. Sometimes change is hard and sometimes change is just change. And cultivating our joy and gratitude in change, in all things, can elude us.

Wendell Berry’s words on At start of spring:

At start of spring I open a trench
In the ground. I put into it
The winter’s accumulation of paper,
Pages I do not want to read
Again, useless words, fragments,
errors. And I put into it
the contents of the outhouse:
light of the suns, growth of the ground,
Finished with one of their journeys.
To the sky, to the wind, then,
and to the faithful trees, I confess
my sins: that I have not been happy
enough, considering my good luck;
have listened to too much noise,
have been inattentive to wonders,
have lusted after praise.
And then upon the gathered refuse,
of mind and body, I close the trench
folding shut again the dark,
the deathless earth. Beneath that seal
the old escapes into the new.

For each of us, I pray that old escapes into new and that we remember our connections to friends and neighbors and strangers, our connections to all life and all material. And that we find newness of life in this changing world.

Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Dear Friends,

Love is the power that holds us together and is at the center of our shared values. We are accountable to one another for doing the work of living our shared values through the spiritual discipline of Love.

This quote was lifted from the pages of the Article 2 Commission—the committee that looks at our UU values and is charged to keep our faith relevant. Our principles and values are on the docket to be looked upon at our General Assembly this summer.

Love is the holy thing that unites us as Unitarian Universalists and Love is the experience we share at All Souls. When I think about the warmth and connection that springs forth during a service, and the camaraderie that shows up at coffee hour, this is the Love that is shared throughout the building and the people of All Souls.

We are also reaching out to our neighbors. We are getting involved in direct volunteer experiences with Matthew 25 ministries— they’re a food distribution pantry that is set up on the last Saturday of the month in Ashland and the first Saturday of the month at Mansfield Senior High; people can drive up and receive help in the form of produce and food. If you are looking to volunteer too, please come just before 8am.

I am reading an excellent book about making a difference. I encourage everyone to read it. In a few months, I would like to put together an adult RE book read of it: Soul of a Citizen; Living with conviction in challenging times, by Paul Rogat Loeb. It is offering to me inspiration and hope, while also offering practicality.

In it the author quotes philosopher and theologian Cornel West, “A rich life is fundamentally a life of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it…. This is true at the personal level… [but there’s also] a political version of this. It has to do with what you see when you get up in the morning and look in the mirror and ask yourself whether you are simply wasting time on the planet or spending time in an enriching manner.”

As March rolls out spring and melts the winter away, I hope you find ways to connect, and serve, and enrich the lives of others and others might offer the same for you. As the daffodils pop up, I pray that you can experience the Love
that holds us together.

— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Dear Friends,

I hope February finds you in peace and love and purpose! In this lovely month, I hope you can pause to appreciate all of the different types of love in your life. With Valentine’s Day, we typically focus on romantic love (Greek: ‘eros love’), but with Galentine’s Day, we fellowship focusing on friendship love
(Greek: ‘philia love’). In families we experience love (greek: ‘storgē love’). And, through Black History Month and when we engage in Justice work we love (Greek: ‘agape love’).

Thinking about where we are geographically, and our love of that (Spanish:  querencia love’) and the belonging-sort-of-love we might experience (Old Welsh: ‘cynefin love’). Sometimes we experience the feeling of connection that just seems to work instantly as if fate intervened with a friend or partner (Chinese: ‘yuán fèn’ love). And, perhaps we seek spiritually a transcendent love (Pali: ‘metta loving kindness’).

I think about our connection—through, in and among all things—within this wide lens of love, I can’t help but hope. I hope for our neighbors and communities, and I hope for the connection we cultivate in each other as a church—listening and responding to each other on this search for meaning and purpose. I hope for the difference we can and do make in each other’s lives and the Justice work we accomplish to help our communities and our world.

I pray that each of you experience love in so many multifaceted ways.
— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Happy New Year!

I show my inner Trekkie to reveal an unanticipated joke, just as I share that life has taken an unexpected turn. Sometimes it does that, and it behooves us to not only take it in stride but to dance along. There is a line from the musical Beetlejuice that says, “We should have carpe’d way more diems. Now we’re never gonna see ’em!”

Whether we listen to the wisdom of the Roman poet, Horace: “Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero”: (Seize the day, trusting tomorrow as little as possible). Or the wisdom of Solomon in Ecclesiastes (8:15): “One has no better purpose under the sun, than to eat, drink, and to be merry…”

An opportunity has come for me to live what I feel is my true calling. For the past eight or so years, I have served as part-time minister and a full time school administrator– serving both concurrently. It has been a difficult balancing act.

I have left my position within public education to pursue full time ministry. I have accepted a call from East Shore UU Church to be their full time settled minister. And, we have arranged to continue serving both concurrently–All Souls and East Shore. There will be some differences, as I will be unable to be here with you each Sunday (I plan to continue preaching once per month).
But (without the school bell schedule and sporting events) I am able to provide more presence with pastoral care, local advocacy, and CER representation. I truly look for this to be a wonderful symbiotic scenario for both churches and further engagement with the community.

I hope 2023 finds you well and offers you more chances to seize the day to experience joy more, to engage more, and to Love more.

Peace and Happy New Year!
— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister


Advent is upon us, and we are preparing for the darkest day of the year, and we are preparing for the return of the light. We anticipate the struggles of busyness, obligation and the annoyances that find us, all the while the joys of Christmas–the sparkle of the lights, the giving, the receiving, the hope and wonder of it.

This time of year, as the trees bare themselves, clad with only the cold wind upon them, I am reminded of Mary Oliver’s “Blackwater Woods.” Here is an excerpt:

Everything I have ever learned in my lifetime leads back to this: the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation, whose meaning none of us will ever know.
To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.

I think of the Magi and the three gifts they brought: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These parallel with Mary Oliver’s three things. Gold is for provision, providing for a family or friends and our responsibilities. Frankincense is the heaven-bound incense that connects us to the divine and to one another. And, myrrh is the embalming oil for the departed–”when the time comes to let it go.”

I pray each of you have joy and connection this holiday season, that you can connect at our different gatherings, and you connect with friends and family alike.

Peace beyond all understanding, may it be with you!
Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!

— Rev. Wil

Message from the Minister


I want to thank you all for a great congregational meeting. In it I feel like we clearly established our goals of a prudent balanced budget and our generous mission of serving our community– welcoming the stranger. In this month of Thanksgiving and heritage, I want to express my gratitude for All Souls and each of you. You are the ones who make the atmosphere Lovecentered.

Helen Keller once said, “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light.” When we look at this shattered world, we can choose to view it as brokenness or the beauty of a mural or like stained glass. We can take the challenges in front of us and we can use them to accomplish our goals. The stoic, Marcus Aurelius, is accredited with the saying, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

The obstacle becomes the way. Our goals of creating Beloved Community, welcoming in more people, listening to more voices–this is the obstacle, therefore it is also our way. We need to engage and invite more people–
friends, neighbors and more. I encourage all of you to invite friends to our church, to create opportunities for connection, to dream with us.

First Thursday of the Month is Wine and Cheese Night
First and Third Wednesdays are the Course in Miracles Group
Second and Fourth Wednesdays are Yoga with Karli

During Advent (Nov 27-Dec 24), we are looking to restart an older small group-
The Wednesday Supper. We are forming groups of 8 people or so who can commit to sharing a supper once per week. Typically the group rotated hosts and shared a soup (also rotating the cook)–but the group can dream up what might work for them–meeting at the church (be sure to sign it out with Rob Gibson), or meeting in a restaurant. If the group would like discussion questions, I can provide them, or if your group just wants to figure it out, that’s fine, too. We have brought this small group back because we have a lot of newer people–we are growing–and we need to know one another.

Happy Thanksgiving! Peace!

— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister


Happy Halloween! Happy October. I am excited for pumpkins and falling leaves, frost and foggy mornings. A cool fall morning, flannel shirt, a fire, some coffee… I think I need that.

With these fall times, Halloween—this is the time when the veil of reality thins and we can expect the hereafter and the here-and now to become close to one another. I’ve been talking with others about the Spirit of Expectancy—within this notion that we live in a veiled reality: We live in a reality where Beloved Community is real and tangible now and those who behave as if we don’t are acting outside of the norm, the actual reality; we are to live, breathe and act as if Beloved Community is here.

The poet Rumi once wrote, “Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.”

Enjoy your pumpkin spice, friends, lovers, and bring the change we need in this world. Love whole-heartedly. Find solace in a moment. Find others to keep the faith, to fan your flames. Usher in the beloved community!

Happy Halloween!
— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Dear Friends,

April showers… I pray they are more rain showers than snow showers: April in Ohio—one never knows…

Theologian Howard Thurman once wrote, “Often, to be free means the ability to deal with the realities of one’s own situation so as not to be overcome by them.”

And sometimes we reach to God, to the ancestors, to the universe, to the sacred within us, around us—what is was and ever shall be—and we pray for that spark of life in each of us to find peace, to love our siblings, to speak
and act and embody beloved community.

We use the metaphor of rebirth with spring. The Easter holiday reflects this, our tradition of flower communion on Easter reflects this and pairs it with the community building that being a part of a church embodies.

Spring flowers pop up, they regrow—This is their resiliency. We use this symbol as we search for meaning.

As we confront the issues we have in ourselves and society: white supremacy culture and perfectionism, the partisan divide, homophobia and transphobia: We work for peace.

As we feel liberation from not being overwhelmed by our realities, let us remember to connect in meaningful ways and to keep the gains we’ve made: We work for peace.

As we begin prioritizing mental health along with physical, social and spiritual health: We work for peace.

Spring is about growth. The sap has to run before the tree can blossom. The bulbs needed planting before the daffodils and lilies can flower. There is peace in the work; there is peace in the journey as well as the destination.

Happy Easter! Spring is here! Peace be with you.

— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Dear Friends,

I am stirred. I am agitated. I am comforted. I am loved. I am angered, enraged. The diversity of feelings overwhelms me. I am calmed with the respite that spring seems to offer. But then I am concerned for the people who’ll suffer from flooding. A friend of mine on the other side of the aisle asked me for help; he said, “I think I’m blinded to sexism and blinded by my own misogyny.” The Russian Invasion of Ukraine stirs fears of loss and pain but what war actually is. Thinking about sunflowers and all of the different meanings it is as a symbol. I think about our Supreme Court and the mixed emotions of encouragement offered by Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination while also living within the fear I continue to have with a 6-3 court. I am moved by the coming lenten season and the reflection it offers and I am moved by the coming of spring. I pray each of us can find meaning, joy, and peace while also standing for our values.

— Rev. Will