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!

January 5, 2019                          Let It Be

Rev. Craig Rubano and Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

We begin a new year hoping to embrace lives of integrity, our January congregational theme. What if this year, rather than resolving to add healthy practices or to prohibit certain foods or thoughts or ruts, we instead made a serious vow just to let things be: underneath the noise, the business, the promises, the errands, the masks, just who are we, really? Perhaps integrity, among other things, means authentically to be the one and only us. Dare we let that be?

December 22, 2019                      Out of the Darkness

Michelle McKenzie-Creech, CDFM & Rev. Craig Rubano

Together, on the shortest day of the year, as we celebrate the sacred flame that burned far longer than it should have, we return to the light. We find hope, possibility, and promise in light, casting us out of the darkness on this day as the Winter Solstice and Hanukkah arrive just hours apart.

December 15, 2019                      O Come, O Come: Advent Anticipation

Rev. Craig Rubano

Advent is a time of waiting, waiting for the coming of something novel, for the arrival of a new way of doing or thinking about things, and, in Christian tradition, the birth of a child. Yet, unlike more homogeneous spiritual communities, in our congregation, each of us may well be waiting for something quite different. This morning, exactly halfway through Advent, we’ll explore the lessons of the season: what can all of us learn from being mindful about waiting?

December 8, 2019                      The Awe-ful Truth

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

Being filled by awe is both exhilarating and troubling. The fear and trembling we experience when faced with forces far beyond us is not always reassuring. What truths might bring you to that edge of fear and wonder?

December 1, 2019                      The Suffering Artist Myth

Rev. Rosemarie Newberry, guest minister

I reject that artists must suffer in order to be great creative types. I believe that tapping into our creative natures is natural and available to all of us. The source of creativity is from the divine, the sacred. Let’s honor all creativity from that sacred place.

November 24, 2019                  The Breads of Our Lives: A Multigenerational Thanksgiving Communion

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst, Rev. Craig Rubano, and Michelle McKenzie-Creech

Part of glorying in our common humanity is to enter into the wonder of what is different about each of us and, at one level, we eat what we are—in other words, our heritages are tied to our foods. This morning, we express our communal gratitude for our specificities through the breads of our diversity. We will have many baker volunteers, to offer and briefly describe in the service the culture their offering represents.

November 17, 2019                   Attending to Joy

Rev. Craig Rubano

Getting out of ruts, discovering new meaning, living into bliss—these all may emerge somewhat counterintuitively, by doing less. This morning, we’ll attend to finding stillness, embracing honesty, and identifying desire as beginning steps of paying attention to our joy.

November 10, 2019                   We All Can Rise

Dr. Carol Penn

“Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, still I rise.” ~ Maya Angelou

This service is designed to be lively and interactive to bring a message of hope and inspiration as we pay attention to the collective vibration of goodness and hope that can rise in us together as a conscious, awakened community.

November 3, 2019                    All Souls’ Sunday: Love and Loss

Rev. Craig Rubano & Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

It is a practice, this paying attention to our grief. This Sunday, we pay attention once again to those who have died this year and to those whose lives still resonate years after death has claimed them. On this All Souls’ Sunday, we will reflect on the nature of love and loss.

October 27, 2019                        Which Witch Are You?

Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst

Are witches good or bad, or even from Kansas? This All Hallow’s Eve, let’s explore the nature of witchcraft. How and why has it come to be so misunderstood?

SisterCircle offered the Search for Meaning: Jo Grazide & Linda Stehlik

October 13, 2019                        Exploring Sexuality Values for Our Whole Lives

Melanie Davis, Ph.D., guest speaker

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Our Whole Lives (OWL) Sexuality Education, a lifespan curricula co-published by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Now used in secular and faith settings across the US and nternationally, OWL is considered the Gold Standard for comprehensive sexuality education. Dr. Melanie Davis, the UUA’s OWL Program Manager, will provide an OWL overview and will introduce us to the values and their connection to our faith.

Dr. Melanie Davis is the author of OWL for Older Adults, which will be released next month, and Sexuality and Our Faith, a Companion to OWL for Grades 7-9, 2d edition. For 15 years, Dr. Davis has been a lay speaker for UU congregations around the US. She is a member of the UU Trauma Response Ministry and the UU Congregation of Somerset Hills. Dr. Davis has a private sexuality counseling and education practice for teens and adults.

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??