The Unitarian Church in Westport has added two people to its ministerial staff, Rev. Shelly Thompson, Assistant Minister for Faith Formation, and Intern Minister Margalie Belizaire.
Rev. Shelly earned her Master of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School in 2016 and as a part of that degree program completed a 2-year internship at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA. She comes to Westport from Richmond, VA where she served the First Unitarian Universalist Church as their Minister of Membership for the past two and a half years. She was recently ordained by that congregation.
In her early twenties she considered herself spiritual but not religious- a spiritual seeker who avoided organized religion for many years.
That changed when she first felt called to the ministry shortly after discovering Unitarian Universalism at the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines Iowa in 2011. It was there that she found a true sense of belonging and meaning and developed an awareness of how she was meant to serve in the world.
Prior to her call to ministry, Rev. Shelly worked for many years in southern Oregon as a youth and family mental health therapist with families in crisis and chronic distress resulting from poverty, abuse, addiction, mental illness, poor educational opportunities and underemployment. In many ways that work helped prepare her for parish ministry.
Raised in California, college in upstate New York, Divinity school in Chicago, with stops in Iowa and Richmond, she has moved quite a lot in pursuit of her passions and education. Connecticut is state number eight for her.
Intern Minister Margalie Belizaire grew up in a large Haitian family in Miami, Florida, where she was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, a faith that didn’t work for her. After a period of being spiritual but not religious, she happened upon Unitarian Universalism and hasn’t looked back since.
In her ministry she has a particular sense of responsibility, especially to people coming from a turbulent and often painful spiritual background as well as to making Unitarian Universalism more racially and culturally diverse.
Before entering divinity school Margalie’s professional life was one of service. She worked with people who were developmentally disabled, with battered women, and with youth adjudicated into the foster care system by the courts.
In addition to Rev. Shelly and Intern Minister Margalie, the staff at The Unitarian Church in Westport includes Senior Minister Rev. Dr. John Morehouse, Minister of Music Rev. Dr. Edward Thompson, and a part and full-time staff of eight lay people with portfolios ranging from religious education to social justice.
For information about The Unitarian Church in Westport visit: https://uuwestport.org/