Transition for Lifespan Spiritual Exploration at UCM

Letter from the Minister

Beloved UCM community,

In August of 2022, UCM hired Rowan Van Ness as our Acting Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration. At the time, it was unclear how we, as a congregation, would move forward with Sunday morning programming for children and youth after the crisis period of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rowan was joined by a small but enthusiastic LSE committee in restarting in-person Sunday morning programs for children and youth which now includes nursery care, PreK/kindergarten and elementary classes as well as middle and high school youth groups. We will also have 7 high school seniors participating in our annual Bridging Ceremony on May 7.

Starting up these programs again took a lot of imagination and hard work. It has been wonderful to welcome back many of our children and youth and to also welcome new families to our LSE program. Thank you to all those who have helped make this happen!

We knew that this church year would be one of transition – a time of reconnecting and rebuilding and laying the groundwork for the renewed, long-term viability and vibrancy of spiritual exploration programs at UCM. Rowan has played a key role in creating more stability for our LSE programs and also preparing the way for what comes next.

Rowan will be completing her role as Acting Director of LSE at the end of June and moving onto other ministry opportunities. In the final weeks of our church year, we will take time as a congregation to thank Rowan and to bring closure to our period of ministry together.

The Executive Team is actively working on a transition plan for recruiting and hiring the next person to lead children, youth, and family programs at UCM. We hope to have someone in place by early to mid-August. If you’d like to be a part of the team that recruits and selects this new staff member, please be in touch with me at

I hope you’ll join me in thanking Rowan for her incredible leadership this past church year and wishing her well in her ministry!


Rev. Joan Javier-Duval

Letter from the Acting Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration

Dear UCM Community,

I have appreciated the opportunity to get to know you this year, as UCM has been transitioning back to primarily being in-person with one another. It has given me a great opportunity to get to know some amazing people, to learn about working in a smaller congregation than I had previously worked in, to get to know (a little bit!) another part of Vermont, and to work in a part-time role while finishing up the ministerial fellowship process and while my little one is still little.

I appreciate your commitment to and care for one another—I have seen how this community is another family for some of you and this church, another home. The relationships between people are part of the heart and soul of a congregation, and I’ve found warmth amongst you.

I’m still finalizing my next steps, though I’m hoping to be able to spend more time with my family in South Burlington and to plan my ordination.

There is a lot going right at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier—wishing you every blessing in how things continue to unfold!

With gratitude,