Dear Members and Friends of The Unitarian Universalist Church at Washington Crossing,
I am honored and thrilled to be your ministerial candidate. I have long held a deep respect and appreciation for UUCWC’s dedication to shared ministry, social activism, and building a compassionate community. I look forward to learning more about the congregation you love through our time together during candidating week. Until then, here is a bit about me and my starting points.
I live in Maplewood, New Jersey, with my wife, Tara, and our two dogs, Owen (like Meany) and Wrigley (like the field).
Since 2011 I have served The Unitarian Church in Summit, New Jersey, as Minister of Congregational Life. During this tenure, my portfolio has included Pastoral Care, Membership, Small Group Ministries, Volunteer Recruitment, Giving, Strategic Planning, and, in partnership with the senior minister, Worship. Before my ministry in Summit, I served as the ministerial intern at The Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis; the Unitarian Universalist Campus Ministry Chaplain at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana; and as a chaplain intern at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. A lifelong Unitarian Universalist, I grew up attending a small lay-led fellowship on Long Island, the North Fork Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (NFUUF).
Having grown up in a lay-led fellowship, I often wondered how I knew I would be a minister. Inspired by, and raised among, the shared ministries of the few families who made up the NFUUF, I was given the gift of faith in people and the belief in commitment. The congregation shared joys and concerns courageously and honored them lovingly. We learned to memorialize one another in life and in death. We cut the lawn and blessed the babies. How else, I wonder now, could I have learned to minister?
Growing up UU—and in such a small context—I had the opportunity to experience religious education not only through my fellowship but also by means of the district, which encouraged our participation with other Long Island congregations. Again and again, I met with and benefited from the reality of our tradition’s rich diversity of belief from person to person and from congregation to congregation.
This was not confusing or shallow. The Principles became the core of my theology and world view. It is not surprising then, that I later attended Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. Union’s core message is one of social activism, faith lived fully in the world, and the blessing of diversity of thought.
Not long after graduating from Union, I met my wife Tara. On March 16, 2013, we celebrated our Civil Union in Lambertville. The following October, we were married in the Summit congregation. We now think every couple should renew their wedding vows every seven months.
Tara completed her master’s degree in sociology in Missouri and has worked for the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as for the City University of New York, doing research and analysis. In recent months Tara has worked as the administrator for the UU Legislative Ministries; she started her own dog-running company “Run Dog Run”; and is a certified personal trainer. Almost every Summit employee has been trained by her!
As I begin this next stage of ministry, Tara and I are taking the opportunity to change our last names. Like many couples, we have wondered how to make a family name that honors both of us, especially with last names like Tomaszewski and Wildhagen, which just can’t be hyphenated! Now by introduction, and soon legally, our new family name is Wildszewski, pronounced, Wild-shes-kee.
Tara and I have had nothing but adventures in recent years: moving to NJ, celebrating a civil union and then getting married, adopting our two dogs, and becoming doting aunts to five nieces and nephews. We cannot wait to root ourselves in the Washington Crossing area.