Dieterich ordained by Unitarian Universalists

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Rev. Charlie Dieterich – new Universal Unitarian minister.

GALLOWAY – Members of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Jersey Shore ordained Rev. Charlie Dieterich of Smithville into the ministry Sunday, Sept. 30.

Dieterich has been pastor to the congregation since September 2011.

Previously, he was a chaplain in suburban New Orleans. He graduated from Starr King School for the Ministry in 2010.

Unitarian Universalist ministers from across the country and clergy of other faiths participated.

Members of the local congregation voted in June to ordain Dieterich, allowing him to use the title Reverend. Before entering the ministry in 2010, he worked for RCA and other consumer electronics companies in the Princeton area.

Dieterich holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The ordination program included a processional, chalice lighting, music from the choir, readings, and a sermon by Rev. Libby Smith of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Lower Bucks, Pa., as well as the laying on of hands by the congregation.

While some Unitarian Universalist congregations can trace their history back to the Mayflower, the local congregation received its charter with the Unitarian Universalist Association in 2000.

Membership has grown to more than 100, mostly from Atlantic County but also from Cape May, Cumberland, Burlington and Ocean counties.

In 2008, the congregation built the Unitarian Universalist Center on Pomona Road in Galloway, across from Stockton College. September 30 will be the fourth anniversary of its use for worship.

There are 21 Unitarian Universalist congregations in New Jersey and more than 1,000 nationwide. 

“Years ago, a minister told me that our name was longer than his statement of belief, which is simply ‘“God is Love’” said Dieterich, a life-long Unitarian Universalist. “We leave it up to the individual to develop understandings of Love and God. 

“My interest is not in beliefs, but in faith—what do you have faith in?  And I have faith in our ability to build a better world,.” he continues.   

“When I preach, I tend to center the sermon on our seven UU principles. Among these,” he says, “ are respect for the inherent worth of every individual, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and respect for the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part.”

Dieterich said these principles translate in daily practice into social justice initiatives that include an active LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) support and advocacy group, sustainable living education programs, weekly collections for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey Southern Branch, an animal welfare ministry and more.

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Jersey Shore holds services 10 a.m. Sundays at 75 S. Pomona Road at the corner of Liebig Street. For information

Karen York of Galloway, president of the Board of Trustees for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Jersey Shore, leads the congregation in ordaining Rev. Charlie Dieterich into the ministry.

Rev. Richard Speck, executive director of the Joseph Priestley District of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, speaks during the ordination of Rev. Charlie Dieterich, seated, center. The ordination drew Unitarian Universalist ministers from across the country and clergy of other faiths, as well as more than 100 members and friends of the local group.

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