Local Unitarian Universalists hire first minister

Rev. Evan Keely

Two years after beginning to organize in Rappahannock and surrounding counties, the Unitarian Universalists of the Blue Ridge (UUBRidge) now welcomes its first minister, Rev. Evan Keely.

Keely previously served congregations in Massachusetts, Texas and New Jersey, and most recently completed a one-year interim ministry with the Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston, Va. A native Long Islander, he attended the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington, N.Y., as a child. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music history from Boston University and received a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School.

“I’m feeling humbled and very excited to be the first minister of this emerging congregation in Rappahannock County,” Keely says. “I’ve been immensely impressed with their energy and enthusiasm, and I’m very much looking forward to the work we will be doing together.”

Emery Lazar, speaking for UUBRidge, was equally as enthusiastic about Keely’s accepting the position: “We are most fortunate to have found Rev. Keely to lead our new congregation. Having such a top-notch minister will enable us to grow not only in numbers but also in the effectiveness of our service to the local community.”

Keely lives in Reston with his wife, Sarah, whom he met in a Unitarian Universalist Church in Cambridge, Mass. that they both attended in the 1990s. She is now an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fairfax. They have two sons, 8 and 5 years old.

Serving in a half-time capacity, Keely will conduct his first service on Aug. 1, at 10:30 a.m. at The Link in Sperryville. For the next 12 months, he will conduct services on the first and third Sunday of each month. On other Sundays, services will be conducted by guest ministers, lay speakers and music leaders.

Based in Rappahannock County, UUBRidge began to organize in the summer of 2008 with only a handful of people. More than 120 people have attended at least one of its Sunday services. Most UUBRidge members are from Rappahannock and neighboring counties. “All are welcome,” says Lazar. For more information on this new congregation, visit www.uubridge.org.

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