Our Minister – Rev. Don Garrett
Rev. Garrett comes to UUCLV with a strong passion for worship, reconciliation, and justice. He says that, “Worship is our coming together in community to lift up our highest values. Reconciliation is recognizing our vital connections with one another and committing to the nurture and deepening of our relationships, and justice calls us to walk our talk, to work for an earth made fair, and all her people one.”
Rev. Garrett brings a strong interfaith background to the Lehigh Valley, having studied with teachers from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu traditions, among others. Rev. Garrett explains that, “because we are an open fellowship committed to honoring the diversity of faiths and spiritual paths, Unitarian Universalism can be the living laboratory for developing the answer to one of the most pressing problems confronting American culture today: how do people of different faiths and heritages come together and celebrate the shared values and common interests we need to live together in peace and respect? It is not an easy path, but one we are called to walk together as we engage one of the most important issues of our time.”
Rev. Garrett has a long history of working for social justice. Starting with opposing the American involvement in Viet Nam, he went on to counsel draft resistors and conscientious objectors to military service.
A longing to unite his spiritual journey with his passion for justice eventually led Rev. Garrett to join the Community Church of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which was founded in 1954 when the minister of the University Presbyterian Church was defrocked for supporting integration. About a third of that minister’s congregation left with him and, joined by a number of Jewish residents in the area, formed the CCCH, an interfaith community “rooted in activism for civil rights and justice.”
“This was a doctrine I could wholeheartedly endorse,” Rev. Garrett said. Eventually, that congregation chose to affiliate with the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. “So I became a UU when my congregation did in 1992.”
Not long after that, Garrett began to consider the ministry again. “I had thought about pursuing the ministry several times in my life, but had never found a religious tradition in which my eclectic, experiential approach – valuing reason equally with religious experience – would be welcome, “ he said. “Unitarian Universalism provided me with such a home. It gave me a place to grow and to serve.”
He returned to college and completed his undergraduate degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and his Master’s in Divinity from Duke University three years later in 2000.
After student ministries in Hillsborough and Greensboro, North Carolina, Rev. Garrett served congregations in Durham, Wilmington, and Raleigh, North Carolina; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Newport News, Virginia.
“I look forward to enjoying a long and fruitful ministry here in Bethlehem with the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley,” Rev. Garrett said. “I am grateful we have chosen to walk together on our journeys of wholeness and discovery.”