Minister, author, and teacher Rev. Jane Rzepka is the 2010 recipient of the Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA) Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism. The Award Committee presented the honor to Rzepka on June 25, 2010, at the UUA’s 2010 General Assembly, in Minneapolis, MN.
The Award for Distinguished Service, one of the most prestigious awards given by the UUA, recognizes those who have strengthened the institutions of Unitarian Universalism or clarified the message of Unitarian Universalism in an extraordinary way. The Distinguished Service Award Committee members are Joan Lund (chair), John Blevins, and UUA President Rev. Peter Morales.
“I am grateful to the committee and the UUA Board of Trustees for knowing how much this award would mean to me, even though I didn’t know it until now myself,” said Rzepka. “Of course this kind of award should by rights be shared among all those who have been my inspiration, my comfort, and my joy.”
Rzepka is the author of A Small Heaven: A Meditation Manual (Skinner House Books, 1989), a meditation manual, and the co-author with Rev. Ken Sawyer of Thematic Preaching: An Introduction (Chalice Press, 2001), the first full Unitarian Universalist preaching textbook. She taught preaching at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for thirteen years with Sawyer; they also have offered courses at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, Illinois, and the Starr King School for the Ministry, in Berkeley, California.
“A Small Heaven remains a classic expression of Jane’s capacity to use wry observation and everyday experiences to reveal the depths of life,” stated the selection committee in its citation. “Jane is one of the clearest articulators of what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist: in word, in life, in loyalty, identity and honesty.”
Rzepka ministered to Unitarian Universalist congregations for more than twenty-five years, serving most recently as senior minister of the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF), from 2000 to 2010. CLF is a congregation for isolated Unitarian Universalists and is the largest congregation in the UUA. Prior to her ministry at CLF, she served as minister at Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading, Massachusetts, from 1984 to 1999, and as associate minister of the Winchester Unitarian Society, in Winchester, Massachusetts, from 1980 to 1984.
CLF’s membership increased by more than 1,000 during Rzepka’s ministry. Under Rzepka’s leadership, CLF developed a prison ministry, an online community for young adults, and a military ministry. In March 2010, the Board of Directors at the CLF honored Rzpeka with the title of minister emerita.
Rzepka’s other professional accomplishments include serving twice on the Executive Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA), twice on the Board of the Starr King School for the Ministry, and a full term on the UUA Ministerial Fellowship Committee, which credentials Unitarian Universalist ministers. At the 1990 UUA General Assembly, she delivered the prestigious Sermon of the Living Tradition. In 2002, the 25th anniversary of her ministry, she was selected to preach at the UUMA’s 25/50 worship service.
Rzepka lives in Lexington, MA, with her husband of forty years, Chuck Rzepka.