New minister to be installed

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By Special to the Monitor

The Unitarian Church of Los Alamos will formally install its seventh minister, the Rev. John A. Cullinan, in a ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the church.

The installation ceremony is a formal recognition of the covenant between the minister and the congregation. The Rev. Jennifer Innis has been invited to preach the sermon, titled “Sunday Promises.” She serves as minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Midland, Texas and the consulting minister for the Red River Unitarian Universalist Church in Denison, Texas.

Also taking part in the service are the Rev. Nancy Bowen, executive director of the Mountain Desert District of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations; the Rev. Dr. Dale Arnink, minister emeritus of the Unitarian Church of Los Alamos; the Rev. Christine Robinson, senior minister of the First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque; the Rev. Dr. Stephen Furrer, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Santa Fe; and the Rev. Bret Lortie, minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio.

The church began to look for a new minister after the departure of the Rev. Dr. James Macomber, who left to serve another congregation in New York in July 2006. Arnink, who had served as the church’s minister for 24 years before retiring, acted as the transition minister for the 2006-2007 church year, leading services twice a month.

In the Unitarian Universalist tradition, a search committee is appointed by the members of the congregation to select a ministerial candidate in a year-long process. The congregation then decides as a whole whether or not to call that candidate to ministry in an open-ended, covenantal relationship.

After he spent a week as the church’s ministerial candidate last April, leading two Sunday worship services and meeting with members and committees, the vote to call Cullinan as the church’s new minister was unanimous. He began leading services in September after moving to Los Alamos from Chicago with his wife, Jess, and children, Brandon and Nora.

“I’m very pleased with the match that I’ve found here in Los Alamos,” said Cullinan. “Very few first-time ministers are so lucky to find a church so warm, and ready for new opportunities.”

Cullinan holds a Bachelor of Arts from Marquette University in Milwaukee, and a Master of Divinity degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School, a Unitarian Universalist seminary affiliated with the University of Chicago. The First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee ordained him in May 2007. This is his first ministerial settlement.

The installation ceremony will be followed by a reception at the Betty Ehart Senior Center at 6 p.m.

Bowen, visiting from Denver, will lead the worship service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Her topic is “Entering in the Middle,” exploring the Unitarian Universalist practice of covenantal theology. More information can be found at uulosalamos.org.