At the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, we record our sermons. They can be accessed from this page as they become available.

We are liberal spiritual community which seeks to create community, transform ourselves and transform the world. If you like what you hear and have not yet visited UUCMC, please consider being our guest on a Sunday morning soon!

October 6, 2019                  A Comfortable Faith

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

Does Unitarian Universalism offer us the right mix of comfort and challenge in these troubling times? Today we will consider some of the stories that call us in and call us out. Are we creating brave space together?

September 29, 2019                  A Time for Turning

Rev. Craig Rubano

This evening marks the beginning of a new year on the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah, the “head of the year,” marks the beginning of ten days in which not only time is celebrated, but the human ability to change and grow. In keeping with our monthly congregational theme of “expectation,” what can we all learn from this holiday that bids us metaphorically to turn, to re-inscribe ourselves in the book of our lives?

September 22, 2019                  People of Faith and the Climate Strike

Rev. Susan Smith, guest speaker

Rev. Susan Smith is the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Monmouth, Parish Associate of First Presbyterian Church of Rumson and Green Faith Fellow whose ministry is dedicated to environmental justice.

September 15, 2019                   What We Have Come to Expect

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

There is a hidden power in our expectations. In our interactions with one another and in our expectations of the world around us, if we expect the worst, if we give in to cynicism and fear, we can expect to find them. How do we realistically and practically expect anything better? I hope to find out.

August 11, 2019                           Shamanism- Ancient Ways in a Modern World

Eileen D. Ellis, MSW, Native American Healing, LLC

There has been a significant renaissance in global shamanism in the 21st century. Ancient wisdom and pathways are being translated by contemporary shamans to heighten our awareness and our consciousness. With these pathways come practical strategies to live a sacred, peaceful, healthy life for yourself and the planet. Your requirement- an open heart.

Eileen Ellis is a full-blooded Mohawk Native American with ancestral healing roots with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Rutgers University. She is a retired NJ public school administrator with 25+ years of educational experience, and since 2006 has been a practicing shaman and spiritual/energy consultant, teaching and facilitating classes in meditation (breathing, mindfulness, guided imagery, shamanic journeying) as well as varied topics in energy healing.

July 21, 2019                                  Are We There Yet?

Rev. Craig Rubano & Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

July 14, 2019                                Have You Ever Been a Pilgrim?

Rev. Julie Newhall

To answer the question, you’ll need to decide what you think a pilgrimage is. It’s not always just a walk.

Reverend Julie Newhall was ordained in our Earth Room 15 years ago. She is a circuit-driving minister for the UU Ocean County Congregation and for the UU Society of South Suffolk in Bay Shore, Long Island. It’s a thrill for her to be able to attend services and preach at UUCMC, which is typically only possible during the summer.

July 7, 2019                                  Start As You Mean To Continue

Rev. Craig Rubano & Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

Our year of co-ministry experimentation begins now! What are the values, benchmarks and signs of success and failure that we will be learning from? Beginning again is a chance we are willing to take.

June 30, 2019
Learnings: My personal experience of the American Baptist Church’s mission nationally and internationally.

Rev. Liz Congdon

Today, hear about what I learned with global servants (missionaries) in countries I visited as well as my learnings in Trenton. “Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down and out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.” ~ Isaiah 1:17 (The Message)

June 23, 2019                              What We Know We Don’t Know: A Celebration of Mystery

Sarbmeet Kanwal

Ancient people were in constant touch with mystery — forbidding forests, roaring rivers and star-studded night skies! We have all but lost that feeling of awe and wonder and with it our openness to continuous learning and growth. It is time to reintroduce mystery into our lives.

June 9, 2019                                 Dedicated To This: Flower Communion Sunday

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst, Michelle McKenzie-Creech and All

This is our annual multigenerational celebration of our dedication to the common good for our community and ourselves. Flowers were brought to share in our annual flower communion.

June 2, 2019                                 What the Body Knows

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

So much beauty and knowledge are housed in our bodies. In our country today, there are renewed efforts to control women’s bodies, and there is a justified distrust in institutions that do not respect the bodies of children especially. What does the beauty and full truth of our bodies tell us as we face these fearsome challenges?

May 12, 2019                                Over the River…

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

This Mothers’ Day and Universal Parents’ Day, let’s look at the role of grand- and ‘other’- parents in supporting all families. The presence of another adult in a child’s life can make all the difference. The presence of children in an adult’s life makes a difference, too. If the human species thrives in multigenerational families and communities, what can we do to strengthen them?

May 5, 2019                                  This is Us: UUCMC Music Sunday

Louise Chernosky and friends

Join us for a Sunday morning full of music and dance from UUCMC’s performing groups. With contributions from For UU (our ukulele orchestra), Core of Fire, Just Folk, Sister Singers, Roots & Wings, and the UU Singers, we will celebrate the way music helps create community at UUCMC.

April 21, 2019                              Easter Happens: A Multigenerational Celebration

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

A hunt for the meaning of Unitarian Universalist East will happen in this service.

April 14, 2019                              An Earth Abundant

Rev. Jennifer Kelleher, Guest Minister

Reflections on our natural world and the places we love within it; climate change; and respect for the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part.

A lifelong UU, Rev. Jennifer Kelleher is creator of Meaningful Life Ceremonies, a rite of passage ministry officiating weddings, child dedications and memorial services. Previously, Jennifer served NJ congregations as a parish minister. She’s also been a chaplain for a level-one trauma hospital in Philadelphia.

March 24, 2019                            Dreams for the Journey

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst and Rev. Craig Rubano

As we embark on the possibilities of co-ministry at UUCMC, what dreams and thoughts are emerging? What shall we pack for the journey ahead? What is the destination?

March 17, 2019                            Celtic Spirituality

Rev. Dr. Len De Roche

On St. Patrick’s Day we will look into what makes Celtic Spirituality different and special. Len will talk about Celtic Mythology and St. Patrick.

UU ministers around NJ are participating in a Pulpit Swap today. Rev. Virginia is preaching in Somerville this morning.

Rev. Dr. Len De Roche is the Interim Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Somerset Hills, Somerville, NJ. He is a second career minister whose first career was as a USAF officer. He started his Air Force career flying F-111’s but after breaking too many, he was sent to maintenance to fix them. He ended his service closing bases in England and Germany after the Berlin Wall fell. Len lived 15 years in England and attended two British Unitarian congregations and was involved with the British and Foreign Unitarian Association. Upon retirement, he went back to graduate school and entered seminary and has served the UU Ministry since 1997. Len has specialized in serving congregations that had troubled ministerial endings, needed some organizational restructuring or a change of culture.

March 3, 2019                              Be Brave & Dream Big: Celebrating UUCMC

Rev. Virginia and the UUCMC Stewardship Team

Today we will hear the brave voices of many of our fellow congregants. We are exploring the values and actions that inspire and empower us. Check out the inspiring reflections:

February 24, 2019                     UU Theologies Series: Eco-Feminism

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

This next in our series explores the inclusion of Pagan, Eco-Feminist and Womanist theologies on our UU journey. There is an ever expanding diversity!

February 10, 2019                      When the Dirt Shows

Rev. Rob Gregson

Policing across the country, and within the state of NJ, is in crisis. Years of mistrust and high profile police abuse cases–often captured on smartphones and social media–has landed many Americans in alternate universes of “Black” vs. “Blue” Lives Matter. Relying on the new report, The Force, about policing across NJ communities, Rev. Gregson calls on UUs and allies to speak up locally so that everyone–minority citizens and the police themselves–are safer, less prone to violence and working together for a common good that, in many ways, has never existed before.

Rev. Gregson is the current Executive Director of UU FaithAction NJ (formerly UULMNJ), the advocacy and social justice arm of all 21 NJ UU congregations. He served previously as Director of the British Unitarian nonprofit, SimpleGifts in E. London UK, and first settled minister at First UU Fellowship, Hunterdon Co. NJ. He and his two teenage children live in South Orange, NJ.

February 3, 2019                        Toleration 2.0

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

This month marks the 450th anniversary of the Edict of Torda. This first edict of toleration issued for a brief period in Transylvania by the Unitarian King John Sigismund left its mark on western culture and is part of our story. Where has this impulse toward religious tolerance taken us to today?

December 9, 2018                     A Pattern of Miracles

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

Today we will explore the miracle of Hanukkah and any other miracles that might be hiding in plain sight.

November 18, 2018                     I’ve Got Peace at the Table: A Multigenerational Service

UUCMC Junior and Senior Youth, Michelle, & Rev. Virginia

This Thanksgiving, we will focus ourselves on both need and gratitude. Our Youth had a transformative experience at Family Promise’ Cardboard Box City. We will hear their stories and make meaning of them around our shared table.

November 11, 2018                     UU Theologies Series: The Transcendentalist Shift

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

Until the arrival of the Transcendentalists, Unitarianism and Universalism were fully centered in Christianity. What happened then changed then the way we speak of God or the Universe ever since. Natural Theism, Humanism and an expanding pluralism have their roots in this critical movement.

November 4, 2018                     Ready, Set, Vote!

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

This much-anticipated midterm election has very high stakes. Today, we will review the basics of democracy and prepare ourselves for its fundamental practice. Somehow, together we will prepare ourselves for what follows Election Day this Tuesday.

October 28, 2018                        I Have All I Need

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

One of the reasons we need sanctuary is to create a safe place for our grief to unfold. Today, we will consider different versions of the 23rd Psalm as a text meant to offer that kind of protection. On this Sunday closest to All Souls, we read the name of those in our community and in our lives who died this year.

September 23, 2018                   Just As Far As the Eye Can See

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

What we see and understand with eyes and mind always has limits. Our perceptions are colored by our experience we see through different lenses. How can we really see around the next bend or beyond our very human limitations?

September 16, 2018                   Sunrise, Sunset

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

As we covenant with our Family Ministry teachers, parents, children and youth we reenact the enduring cycle of life: birth, youth, growth, ageing, death. What does the Jewish tradition teach us about where we are on this trip around the sun?

Search for Meaning: Family Ministry            Michelle McKenzie-Creech

August 5, 2018                            The Prophetic Call of Disabled Bodies

Craig Rubano, Summer Minister

“Ableism” is the centering of temporarily able-bodied people while simultaneously devaluing those with disabilities. A recent report from the UU Ministers Association presents findings on how to create more accessible environments in which all can learn from and affirm the experiences of those with disabilities. Is our lived theology consistent with treating those with disabilities as people with inherent worth, dignity, and essential life perspectives for us all?

July 22, 2018                              Lessons: Oh, what I have learned on mission teams and working with refugees from Burma.

Rev. Liz Congdon

It has been my privilege to be on mission teams to the Philippines, Haiti, Rwanda, Egypt, Thailand, Lebanon, Malaysia, Republic of Georgia, and the Hopi and Navajo nations in the American Southwest. Text: Isaiah 1:16b-17 (The Message) “Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Matthew 11:29 (The Message) Jesus said “Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Rev. Liz Congdon retired as the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Trenton, NJ, a diverse inner-city church with people from Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia, Haiti, Jamaica, China, Korea, Malaysia, Burma and Thailand as well as America. Long ago she retired from hospital nursing and public health administration. Liz serves as the Co-coordinator of the Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought (MCWRET) and is the Community Service Coordinator for MOSAIC (Mobilizing Our Students for Action to build Interfaith Community), the teenage faith education, community service, and leadership development project. She enjoys traveling and time with her four daughters, sons-in-law, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren.

June 24, 2018                               Science & Religion: Can a Creation Story Save the World?

Sarbmeet Kanwal

Common beliefs have always helped bind a community. It is ironical then, that religion has become one of our greatest dividers. If you are waiting on a savior to unite the world together, wait no more! The universal creation story of science is all we need to transform our world!

Dr. Sarbmeet Kanwal teaches astronomy and modern physics at Brookdale after a long and successful career in Bell Labs. Sarbmeet likes to encourage young students to study science and engineering through mentoring their school science projects and helping start science clubs at their schools. He also helped start MCWRET’s interfaith education program called MOSAIC for youth from different religions to promote a better understanding and appreciation of the increasing diversity in our communities.

June 3, 2018                                              You’ve Got This!

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

A blessing is a vote of confidence, recognition of the beauty and inherent worth of another. How do you give your blessing, and who should receive it? Our Age of Reason (Stepping Stones) is a rite of passage that honors the stage of development where our 2nd-3rd graders can differentiate between truth and fantasy and guide their actions with their values and conscience. This UU tradition celebrates reason and education.

May 6, 2018                                              Healing and Happiness

Jim McCorkel and Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

Based on his qigong practice and teaching, recent cancer experience, and the ranking of nations on happiness Jim has some thoughts to share. Together we’ll explore the ways that happiness is created in a meaning-filled life.

April 29, 2018                                          Nice To Meet You!

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

It may be obvious but it isn’t simple. Greeting others with genuine openness takes some discipline of the heart and real practice in noticing what another needs. Today we will consider the fine art of our greeting. “Come as you are and be blessed.” ~ Rev. Jane Rzepka.

April 15, 2018                                            What is New and Emerging?               

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

We don’t know yet so stay tuned!

April 1, 2018                                          Oh Joy!: An Easter Sunday Multigenerational Celebration

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst & Michelle McKenzie-Creech

Is it Spring or all the hope and new possibility of redemption and renewal that lifts us up this day?  The message of Easter echoes in the flowers, the fancy clothes and of course our annual Egg Hunt for the children.

March 25, 2018                                         The Desert Times                                   

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

The story of Passover and Exile inspires some reflection on our current sense of dispossession. On climate and social justice, our voices are being pushed to the margins. What happens in that desert space?

March 18, 2018                                         Out of Balance Again                             

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

Is it stress, busyness or boredom that tips you over the edge? How do we save and savor this world with our one precious life? It is messy and never boring at the balance of Winter into Spring.

March 11, 2018                                          Annual Dr. Myra Zinke Service
The Oneness of Life and the Myriad Lives of Women

Merle Boyd

Many women of different races, classes, gender identities, religious beliefs, etc. do not feel included in the current feminist movement that seeks to speak on their behalf. From a Buddhist perspective, all identity is fluid. How do we include the great diversity of beings who embrace the fluid definition of the word “woman” in a just and empowering way?

Merle Boyd is a retired clinical social worker, a Zen Buddhist priest in the Soto Zen Buddhist Maezumi/Glassman lineage. She was an early member of a small group of zen practitioners who began sitting zazen here at the meetinghouse in the 90s that became the Lincroft Zen Sangha. She has served LZS as guiding teacher since 2006. Through the generosity of the UUCMC, LZS has gathered here to sit zazen for about 24 years.

March 4, 2018                                           Rise Up March 4th!
The true stories of how one small congregation saved democracy and the world.


Sometimes, we take it for granted that a place dedicated to love and justice will always be there when we need it. Sometimes, we forget to notice those who struggle to live our principles into being every day. Today is for your story of survival and principled action. How do you finish these sentences? UUCMC saved me when…. Once upon a Sunday…. Because of Unitarian Universalism my children’s children will….

February 11, 2018                                    Yes and No 

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

The “Me Too” movement has shed much needed light on the need for consent in human relationships. Our comprehensive sexuality program, Our Whole Lives has been teaching communication and consent to our youth for many years now. Let’s all consider what that means for our congregation and beyond. I wonder, do we believe in consent in all things?

September 3, 2017                                  The Dignity of our Labor

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

In an ideal world, everyone should have meaningful work to do and should be compensated fairly for their labors. Yet the reality falls short. What would it mean to move toward equity and dignity for the workers of the world on this Labor Day?

August 27, 2017                                       When Things Fall Apart

Rev. Julie Newhall

Things don’t always go as we plan.

August 20, 2017                                       A Total Eclipse of the Sun

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

On August 21, we will experience a total eclipse. What does it mean? Are you ready? Today in the service, we will be dedicating children who missed this opportunity as infants.

August 13, 2017                                         Letting Go of the Hyphen

Rev. Tracy Sprowls

Why can’t we just be Unitarian Universalists rather than all of these hyphens??

August 6, 2017                                          Capable of Love

Rev. Tracy Sprowls

With the violence and suffering in the world, it is easy to succumb to despair.

July 30, 2017                                             A Morning of Music and Poetry ~ The Earth Ensemble

Jan Dash, clarinet; Joel DeWitt, violin; Elaine Held, piano and shakuhachi flute; Kirsten Norberg, soprano.

July 23, 2017                                             Our Changing Climate: Not “Just” an Environmental Issue

UUCMC’s Climate Change Action Team and friends

This service is in honor of the interdependent web of all existence and the shredding of the web caused by the changing climate.

June 18, 2017                                            The Circle of Life: The Sixth UU Source

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

This final sermon in our yearlong series will celebrate “Spiritual teachings of Earthcentered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.”

June 4, 2017                                               People Who Need People: The Fifth UU Source

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

Today we will explore our fifth source of wisdom: “Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.” We will also celebrate all the new members who have joined UUCMC this year!

May 28, 2017                                             Beyond “Thank You for Your Service”: America’s Troops

Sue Fulton, Former Army Captain

Progressives sometimes have mixed feelings about our Armed Forces: gratitude for their sacrifice, but uneasiness about this huge organization we have tasked with deploying violence in our name. Meanwhile, military service falls to an ever-shrinking group of Americans. How do we close the gap? Sue’s stories will break down some of the myths.

Sue co-founded Knights Out, the organization of LGBT West Point alumni and allies, and OutServe, the association of actively-serving LGBT military members. As President of SPARTA, she played a leading role in lifting the military’s ban on transgender service in 2013. Appointed by President Obama as the first openly gay member of the West Point Board of Visitors, she became the first female USMA graduate to chair the Board. In 2017, she was appointed to the Board of Visitors for the National Defense University in Washington, DC, and was recognized a “Veteran to Watch” by We Are The Mighty.

May 21, 2017                                              Diversity in Unity – Coming of Age Service

Coming of Age Youth and Michelle McKenzie-Creech, CDRE

Our 8th & 9th grade youth have engaged in a year-long curriculum to learn more about Unitarian Universalism and articulating their own beliefs. The Coming of Age year and service are an important rite of passage that recognizes the transition from childhood to youth. Our youth will share with us their personal credo statements in this worship service designed by them. It is in this spirit that we share our beliefs and experiences at the core of our faith, Unitarian Universalism.

May 14, 2017                                              All of Us Need All of Us: UU White Supremacy Teach-In

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst and All

Recent events at the UUA have demonstrated how difficult it is to separate ourselves from the waters of white supremacy that we swim in. Today we are participating with over 400 other UU congregations in a Teach-In to help us better understand the racism that diminishes Black lives and our community. Not your typical Mother’s Day, but you will make her proud by participating!

April 23, 2017                                            Everyday Activism

Nicole Homer, Dr. Myra Zinke honored speaker

In the turbulent times that we live, each of us is called to act. It is required of us as individuals to discern what actions we are best suited to take in the service of our values and our fellow humans.

Nicole Homer is a poet, professor and a parent. Her debut collection of poetry, “Pecking Order” is available from Write Bloody Publishing.  The book looks at parenthood through the lenses of racism and colorism. She is an Editor at BlackNerdProblems.com and an Assistant Professor of English at Mercer County College.

April 9, 2017                                               A Legacy of Hope: UUCMC’s 60th Anniversary Celebration

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst and Friends

Six decades goes by fast!  They contain an amazing number of stories that don’t just tell us about the past but may guide us into the future.  A special Anniversary lunch followed the service.

March 26, 2017                                         Love Your Neighbor: The 4th UU Source

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

The next source of Unitarian Universalist wisdom is “Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.”  This will be a timely discussion of what it really means to follow this teaching in a time when it is so many refuse to do so.

February 26, 2017                                   All or Nothing:  The Third UU Source

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

This third source looks to a broad set of religious sources for inspiration.  Is there anything they all have in common or are they far too diverse to fit in this one sentence?  Today we consider, “Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life.”

February 12, 2017                                    Darwin Day – A Multigenerational Celebration of Curiosity

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst and Michelle McKenzie-Creech

International Darwin Day is meant to inspire people throughout the globe to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin.  As one of our ‘famous Unitarians,’ his intense curiosity about the natural world was a model for us today.

January 22, 2017                                     Why We March

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst & Friends

On Saturday, January 21 hundreds of thousands of women and men marched in Washington, DC, and cities around the country to raise up concerns for issues concerning women.  Today we will hear from some of our own marchers about why they march and what issues matter so much to them that they will make this arduous journey.

January 1, 2017                                        Keep on Moving Forward…Multigenerational Service

Core of Fire Interfaith Dance Ministry, Carol Penn, choreographer

Through dance, music, and words, Core of Fire explores a pressing question of our time: In the midst of fragmentation, polarization, and uncertainty, how do we keep our hearts open for love and grace so we can move forward toward personal and community wholeness, to the beloved community?

December 11, 2016                                  All the Feels: UU Source #1

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

This service will be the first in a series exploring the Unitarian Universalist sources of our faith. We begin with the “Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life.”