Are you looking for a place to grow?

CUC is a welcoming, supportive community of faith

Welcome! Rejoice. And Come In.

We are so glad you have reached us. These transition journeys can be arduous and completing each stage of the journey should be a celebration.

We will go out of our way to make you feel welcomed. Sit down, relax. Get comfortable. We have some stories to share with you about our history, our hopes, our expectations of you.

Perhaps our stories will touch you and you’ll choose to stay. Perhaps we will be moved and we’ll choose you. However it works out,  let us remember each other with warm thoughts as we are fellow travelers together on a shared journey of spirit. We are one in hearts and arms striving to make a better world.

When you are ready we can talk, but let it be soon, our time is short and we have much to do. The world needs our care.

Introductions and Welcomes

From CUC’s current board president, Martha Bell

From the UUA Metro District Executive Andrea Lerner

From the Rev. Carlton Smith, interim minister at Central Unitarian Church

From UUMA Metro NY District President Rev. Alison Miller

And now, let us introduce ourselves:

Back row (from left): Louise Lessersohn, LeAnne Plunicki, Arthur Eves, Debbie Spina, Joan Whelan. Front Row: Tom Lupfer, Lisa Horton

Back row (from left): Louise Lessersohn, LeAnn Wilcox Plutnicki, Arthur Eves, Debbie Spina, Joan Whelan. Front Row: Tom Lupfer, Lisa Horton

Search Committee
The search committee is pledged to represent CUC as a whole but each of its members is deeply familiar with one congregational constituency or another. Following are brief bios of each member and their involvement with CUC.

Lisa Horton, committee chair, owns her own business. She is a Quickbooks Pro-adviser, focusing on those in small business and nonprofits, for whom she provides bookkeeping and office management. She joined CUC in 1992 when she and her husband, Peter, and their two daughters moved to Tappan, N.Y.,  from Connecticut where they had been members of the UU Society of Northern Fairfield County. She coordinated CUC’s involvement with displaying panels from the Names Project AIDS Quilt, served six years on the Board of Trustees, including as President during Rev. Dr. Justin Osterman’s sabbatical year. She has taught Affirmation, has been co-chairwoman of the Welcoming Committee, served on the Worship, Nominating and Membership Committees and is a Covenant Circle Facilitator. Lisa’s vision for CUC is “a place people can come and feel welcome and connected; a place that will allow each individual to pursue their spiritual search, with guidance from both the minister and other members of the congregation.”

Louise Lessersohn, committee secretary, is an event planner for the New York Intellectual Property Law Association. She has been a member since 1995. She and her husband, Jim, live in Oradell, N.J. They have two college-age children who benefited from CUC’s religious education program. Over the years, her interests at CUC have included active participation on the Personnel, Religious Education, Worship and Nominating Committees and financial support for the Women’s Alliance. She has also  served on her town’s board of education for six years. Her husband is currently Vice President of the Board of Trustees. Asked about her vision for CUC, she said: “I love Central Unitarian Church — its history, its members, its mission, its energy, its compassion and resilience. It is my hope to find a minister who will conduct Sunday services that are inspiring, substantive and reverent.”

Tom Lupfer, committee treasurer, teaches drama at Glenfield Middle School in Montclair. He lives in Westwood, N.J., with his wife, Merielle, who is on the Board of Trustees. He joined CUC in 2006 and immediately became active, serving coffee, leading summer services in 2008 and 2009 and more recently led a formal Sunday service. He has been a Covenant Circle facilitator for the past two years. He is an enthusiastic member of Foundations of Fellowship (a subcommittee of Membership), where he helps new members become connected and involved in congregational life. Tom has also helped cook and serve the homeless in our overflow shelter. He hopes “to reinvigorate our youth offerings for high school students so that more of our older students are involved and active in our community.” He believes our challenge is to maintain the warm, inviting family atmosphere in our congregation and, at the same time, continue growing our opportunities.

Arthur Eves recently left BusinessWeek after 22 years; he was the creative director for He is now completing a master’s degree in religious education and seeking meaningful work in the nonprofit world or education. He has been a member of CUC for 21 years along with his wife, Myra. His daughter, Ariel, grew up in the RE program and was very active in youth group. His major focus has been on teens at CUC: working with the youth group in the late 1980s-early 1990s, teaching OWL (the UUA-approved Sexuality Education Course) for more than a decade, and often working with the Affirmation group or acting as a mentor. Arthur was among the original facilitators trained to lead Covenant Circles three years ago. His vision for CUC is as a vibrant hub of activity all week, not just on Sundays – a place that pulls people in and engages them enough that they come back for more. He believes that our congregation needs to offer something for everyone — young adults, young families, tweens, teens, childless families, active, retired and infirm — and that we can accomplish this if we encourage everyone to share their gifts. He believes that the leadership style of the next minister will be important in moving us forward.

LeAnn Wilcox Plutnicki is a staff editor at The New York Times. She learned about Unitarian Universalism in Kansas City, Mo., almost 25 years ago, where she first attended a UU church. She signed our Membership Book two years ago after nine years of active participation. She and her husband, Ken, live in River Edge, N.J., with three children, who are in our religious education program. She has been a teacher in the program nearly every year since she began coming here. Thinking of CUC in the future, she said: “I feel it is important for our children to have a place to shape their spiritual selves and find peace because of their faith. I would love CUC to be a household name to nonmembers in the community. I come to this building on Sundays with the hope of leaving it inspired and recharged in order to make my own little world — and the really big one we are all in — a better place.”

Debbie Spina is an administrator at Ramapo College and teaches a class in Leadership. She first came to CUC in 2001 with her partner, Rhonda Van Antwerp, as former members of the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield. They have been UUs since 1996 and signed our membership book in 2005. Their two young daughters, Sophia and Darlene, are currently enrolled in our religious education program. Debbie has volunteered for the Holiday Craft Fair, participated in a Covenant Circle, worked on the Rummage Sale, and attended a UU Stewardship Conference in New York City with other CUC delegates. She was also a member of last year’s Ministerial Search team. Her vision for CUC is that it will be “a growing community that celebrates the history and successes of our seasoned members as we bring in the energy and enthusiasm of younger members with families.” She wants to get the message out to all “UUs in waiting” that we are here for them.

Joan Whelan is the database administrator for enterprise applications at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  Her own life experience led her to become an intersex activist in 2000, speaking to classes and giving workshops on intersex issues. She came to CUC through our status as a “Welcoming Congregation,” officially joining in 2002. She has served on the Welcoming and Nominating Committees and has also volunteered with the InterReligious Fellowship at St. Cecelia’s shelter for the homeless in Englewood, N.J. She has been a member of the Board of Trustees and has served as a CUC representative on the Leadership Leaves Council, which provides sabbatical support for full-time religious professionals in our area. Her vision for CUC is to “increase its role as an agent for positive change in the wider community.” She believes that in order to do this, we must “call a settled minister who will awaken, encourage and challenge members to put their spiritual beliefs into action.”

CUC religious symbols