On Sunday, April 29, 2012, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie formally installed The Reverend Walter LeFlore as our third called minister, having originally voted to call him to our pulpit at a Congregational Meeting on May 22, 2011.
Rev. LeFlore is a 2010 graduate of the Andover Newton Theological School and has served as Intern Minister at All Souls Church in Washington, DC, and Summer Minister at First Church in Boston, MA. He was ordained by his home congregation, the First Parish UU of Stow & Acton, on May 8.
Previously, he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology from the University of New Hampshire. Prior to being called to ministry, Rev. LeFlore was a Principle of Organizational Systems Associates, a management and organization consultancy. This work was preceded by several years spent at Digital Equipment Corporation as a Organization Development/HR Manager.
His volunteer work has included serving as a board member of the Small Group Ministry Network, a member of Seminarians of Color, and as senior General Assembly Youth Chaplain in 2008. He currently serves as a member of the Clara Barton District anti-racism/ antioppression/multicultural committee and as the secretary of DRUUMM. At his home congregation, First Parish of Stow/Acton MA, he served as member of the Board, sang in the choir, taught adult RE programs (Living Your Spirituality) and helped design, implement, and facilitate their small group ministry program. It was while sitting in a meeting planning the implementation of a small group ministry program at his home church that Walter first felt his call to ministry. The group was discussing the meaning of the "ministry" part of small group ministry when he realized that he had been “ministering” to people and organizations all his life. He described the experience to his wife, Maggie, a long time UU, who strongly supported the idea of his pursuing the ministry.
One of Rev. LeFlore's goals is the creation of a "Beloved Community." Here are some of his own words to describe it, taken from a past sermon: "The big picture view of the Beloved Community includes us all. It’s a place where we are not only loved and accepted, we are supported and encouraged to be our full selves. It’s a place where we are supported to be the biggest and best that we can be. It’s a place where we honor and take care of one another… And all that, despite freckles, odd behavioral traits, even bad breath! Now that’s the Beloved Community that I envision."
"Fundamentally, I see myself as a change agent, pushing, pulling, coddling, loving, leading and modeling a fervent commitment to what is just and life enhancing. The Beloved Community may best name what I seek. And I believe it is a real place that we can create together, not just an idea or concept. My life has taught me that it takes a continual and repeated willingness to take the next step on the journey to find or build this Community. My life has taught me that we sometimes lose our way, are stopped by fear and greed, a want for comfort, or we simply get tired. We are human and this is to be expected. These are the times when faith becomes important. It takes faith, a belief in something more, better, out there, to pull us or motivate us to take the next step. Information, knowledge, thought, rarely has sufficient motivating force to drive and sustain genuine change and growth. I believe it takes a feeling, a sensation or emotion to provide or channel sufficient energy to manifest growth and movement. Love and faith fall into this category for me. Whenever I preach, on whatever subject, I’m always trying to touch that place in people where love, faith and a belief in something better resides. I have no expectation of always hitting the mark. But even when I miss, I want to have reminded people that that place exists. I hope and believe that repeated efforts in this regard make it easier for people to access and find comfort in that part of themselves. Easy access to this feeling state is what pervades a community that is experienced as being vibrant and alive. I believe that love and faith are foundational in building the Beloved Community."