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May 7, 2019 10:36 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

The Reverend Kimberly Johnson Installed As Pastor Of Unitarian Universalist Congregation Of The South Forks

Reverend Kimberly Quinn Johnson became the Unitarian Universalist of the South Fork's permanent minister on Saturday. ELIZABETH VESPE
May 7, 2019 1:35 PM

The Reverend Kimberly Quinn Johnson mingled with members of her new congregation in the foyer of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork meetinghouse on Saturday afternoon before her installation ceremony began at 2 p.m. A packed room and full choir began to sing worship hymns as Rev. Johnson, adorned in a black robe and colorful scarf, walked down the aisle and took her seat at the front of the meetinghouse just before being installed as the congregation’s permanent minister. The noise from the baby grand piano and saxophone flooded the room as the congregation clapped and sang along to the music.

Once the music stopped, local leaders went up to the podium to congratulate Rev. Johnson.

Rev. Johnson said she was honored and excited to be chosen as the pastor at the place of worship on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.

According to Pamela Wittenberg, the president of the congregation, it was three years ago, on May 21, 2016, when Rev. Johnson was ordained by ministerial colleagues, community leaders, and congregational members, surrounded by friends and family.

Although only sworn in as the congregation’s permanent minister on Saturday, Rev. Johnson is familiar with the South Fork, having joined the congregation in August 2015. The congregation voted for her at its annual meeting last June.

“We are fortunate to gather today in this profound act to install the Reverend Kimberly Quinn Johnson as our chosen minister, and for Kimberly to choose us as the congregation she will serve,” Ms. Wittenberg said.

Among Rev. Johnson’s specialties are anti-racism work, youth ministry and youth programs.

Before being chosen by the South Fork congregation, she served as an intern minister at the Fourth Universalist Society of New York, located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where she led the small group ministry program and a monthly Jazz Vespers Service, among other things.

Rev. Johnson is a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School, and while attending Meadville Lombard was a president’s scholar and awarded the prestigious faculty award for religious leadership.

She is currently a program leader with the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice, which offers experiential learning journeys and social justice training designed to help Unitarian Universalists deepen and sustain the work of justice in their congregations and communities.

In addition, Rev. Johnson currently teaches women’s and gender studies at New Jersey City University, and serves as a member of the board of trustees for the Metro New York District.

Before becoming a minister, Rev. Johnson worked as a union organizer with the United Auto Workers.

While being installed, Rev. Johnson explained that she will support the congregation with moral leadership, religious insight, and spiritual guidance.

Rev. Johnson said, “With joy and a deep sense of responsibility, I take up the ministry to which you have called me.”

As the congregation listened to Rev. Johnson’s speech in silence, she continued with a smile on her face, and vibrant energy, “In my truth, I pledge myself, so far as the power in me lies, to maintain the freedom of the pulpit, to speak the truth in love, both publicly and privately, and to diligently fulfill the several offices of worship, instruction, counsel, service and administration.”

Members of the congregation began to cheer, as Rev. Johnson continued, adding that she hopes to “promote love, service and excellence among all people.”

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