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Office: 3677 Park Ave
Ellicott City, Maryland

Our Minister, Rev. Jane Bennett Smith

I’m so glad you came to visit our website and learn more about Channing Memorial Church! I hope you can visit – I would love to meet you.  If you have any questions about Unitarian Universalism, the church, or me, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask! Call any time or arrange to meet me at my office. All are welcome here.  

A bit about me:

I grew up in New Jersey with my mom and younger sister. In my young adulthood I received my BA from Rutgers University in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies. In 2018, I received my Master’s in Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School. While in seminary, I served as an intern at the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless.  I began my call to ministry with chaplain positions, serving at a university hospital in New Jersey and a treatment center for youth struggling with mental illness and addiction. I was ordained into Unitarian Universalist ministry in 2019 at the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis.  I am currently in my third year of ministry at Channing Memorial Church, and I love every minute of it! I feel so blessed to have found my calling and to have found just the right church to serve.  

Inclusivity:

My ministry is centered around the First Principle of Unitarian Universalism: We covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.  Each person we encounter has this inherent worth. I have worked extensively with stigmatized populations to make sure this inherent worth is realized and treasured.  Mental health and addiction awareness remain passions of mine. I have worked with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and served as a chaplain at a residential treatment center for youth with mental illness and addiction.  I work to remain a safe and affirming presence for all who are struggling or on their path towards healing.

I started an initiative as an intern minister around gender.  I engaged the congregation in gender non-binary awareness and strived to create a space of inclusion for all of those who identify as LGBTQIA+

One of the beauties of Unitarian Universalism is our covenant for a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.  I affirm any understanding of theology and of the sacred.  I served as an intern at a congregation that identified strongly as humanist.  I now serve a congregation where we discuss various forms of the sacred. All beliefs are beautiful, from atheism to theism and everything in between.

Services and Theology:

I was raised atheist and first truly engaged with spirituality in my late teens and early twenties after the sudden and tragic death of an aunt.  After a time of connecting with my new understanding of the sacred through meditation and prayer, I entered my first Unitarian Universalist congregation.  I connected strongly with the idea of a group of people gathering and worshiping together, covenanting on common values, not common beliefs.  Each person was on their own spiritual journey. I still cherish this today.

I have come to identify with process theology.   I now identify as a theist and believe in a sacred that is not all-knowing and all-powerful but who instead attempts to persuade us to do good.  This sacred is loving towards every person in our interdependent web.  Through this connection, I know that I am loved and never alone.

I love crafting meaningful worship.  I follow a thematic arch throughout the month drawing from themes based on spirituality in our lives.  Together, we find hope, grapple with death, and connect with love.  We receive the spiritual sustenance needed both for those difficult times of life and simply through a typical week.  Together, we grow and thrive.  I also offer a call toward justice.  Each of us is tasked to help this aching planet.  Our community worships together, and we draw inspiration and sustenance to serve the aching and the marginalized among us.

Pastoral Care:

My calling in life is to love and to help heal.  I work for each and every person to know they are good, they are whole, and they are loved.