My Pathway to All Souls Church

Originally I was introduced the Unitarian Church as a child of about 8 to 10 years old when my family chose to visit the Unitarian Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. We didn’t attend for long and our attendance was sporadic but the experience left enough of an impression on me so as a young adult living in Northampton Massachusetts I decided to check out the Unitarian Universalist Church there.

It was an exciting time for that particular congregation because it was led by the young reverend Victoria Safford, who is now a famous and highly regarded minister in UU circles. For about a year I was the nursery care provider there, which presaged my later career as a caregiver for infants and toddlers here in Brattleboro. I also joined their choir, fulfilling my lifelong love of singing and choral music. After Victoria moved on from the ministry of that Northampton UU church I admit my attendance lapsed.

I moved to the Brattleboro area in 2000 to accept an AmeriCorp position with Windham Child Care. I had heard of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church but I didn’t cross the threshold of our beautiful building until mother’s day 2003 when I was experiencing a major life transition. I had become a single mother at the age of 40 and entered that Sunday bearing my 5 month old baby on my chest in her infant carrier. I was seeking a sense of community as well as a deeper spiritual life to guide me in the daunting task of parenting. My daughter and I attended All Souls on and off as “friends” for many years, taking advantage of nursery care, then RE activities, the Harry Potter Camp, and always the beautiful musical contributions Sunday mornings.

Things changed, as things do, in lives and in congregations. In 2016 when Shayna Appel became our minister my daughter was a young teenager identifying as a lesbian and becoming an outspoken advocate for lgbtq rights. She felt the warmth and acceptance of this community keenly. I remember when we participated with a small delegation of All Souls Uus in the Women’s March in Montpelier in January of 2017. That was a peak experience of solidarity for both of us.

In the summer of 2017 I lost both of my parents, thus another chapter of my life began. With a small inheritance, I decided to retire from the child care business and pursue two things I’d always dreamed of: making art and doing more singing. So here I am today; having become a full fledged member by signing the membership book, joined the All Souls Choir, had an exhibit of my art work in the All Souls gallery space, joined the board as a “member at large”….

And….. the changes keep coming! In pandemic times, times of political unrest, really difficult times when we need each other more than ever, my connections with All Souls Church have continued to strengthen as I rely on them for ballast and continuity against the winds of change. I am so grateful that my path has led me here. In keeping with the theme of pathways, I quote a song from the teal hymnal “It will be hard we know, and the road will be muddy and rough but we will get there, heaven knows how we will get there but we know we will….. Woyaya, Woyaya.”

Marie Gorst