January 7th 2018 – “Intention”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

Katie Covey reports “Here’s what I discovered. Intention is different from setting goals or resolutions in that it “pulls us into” who we truly are. Goals and resolutions “push us out” into future possibilities. To set intentions, we listen to our inner voice which tells us who we truly are.”  I’ll explore “intention” and we’ll observe our annual frying pan communion as well.  – ERS


December 17th 2017 – “Yes, Virginia”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

One hundred twenty years ago, an eight-year-old girl wrote a letter to which a newspaper editor responded, “Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see.” Editors might not be so optimistic these days, of course, but that’s where I want to begin – and no, I don’t know where I’m going with this yet.  – ERS


December 3rd 2017 – “Choosing Hope”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

This is our theme Sunday, which proclaims “hope doesn’t just promise us that change will come in the future; it also changes who we are in the present. When we believe that a new day is dawning, we don’t just sit down and wait. We get up and go out to meet the light.”  But the question is, “Are we listening to everything hope has to say?”- ERS


November 12th 2017 – “Justice for All?”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

UU congregations were invited to hold another “White Supremacy Teach In” in October; I will pick up some of the themes this Sunday as I consider the claims of Chris Hayes in his new book, “A Colony in a Nation” which argues that in America, “In the Nation, we venerate the law.  In the Colony, we obsess over order, fear trumps civil rights, and aggressive policing resembles occupation.”  There will also be a special collection for the Smoketown Family Wellness Center.


November 5th 2017 – “Abundance”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

 The theme materials for this month say: “When it comes to abundance, our culture and our religion are clearly at odds. Our culture cries, ‘Accumulate!’ Our religion counsels ‘Appreciate!’ The mantras couldn’t be more different: The commercials tell us to ‘Go out and get what you want!’ The pulpits plea with us to ‘learn to want what you have.’  But, given abundance, there’s more … – ERS


October 15th 2017 – “The Joy of Giving”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

You may know the name “Irma Rombauer” from her famous creation, The Joy of Cooking. You may not know that she qualifies as one of those famous Unitarians you probably didn’t know about, and that one version of the story of the book’s creation involves the First Unitarian Women’s Alliance.  I’m going to suggest that the joy of giving is in some ways like the joy of cooking, but you’ll have to come to find out why that is. – ERS


October 1st 2017  – 
“Daily Acts of Courage” / Apple Communion / John Murray
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

The theme for October is Courage, and here’s some of what the introductory materials say: “The bravery that makes it into the history books may save the world, but our ordinary courage keeps each other going. Watching someone else make it through another day helps us endure. Witnessing someone else confront bigotry allows us to bravely be more open about who we are. They say that courage is found by digging deep, but most often it is passed on.”  We’ll also enjoy our annual Apple Communion. – ERS


September 10th 2017 – “Welcome”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

The theme for September is, “What does it mean to be a people of welcome?”  Today, we’ll welcome a new baby, and consider what theologian Henri Nouwen might have meant when he said “Hospitality means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are no alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment. It is not an educated intimidation with good books, good stories, and good works, but the liberation of fearful hearts so that words can find roots and bear ample fruit.” – ERS

August 27th  2017  – 
Taxes and the Un-taxable : A Moral Question?
Dr. Joe Brennan

Is paying taxes a moral responsibility? Why can’t I pay only what is legally required and no more? If off shore tax havens and factories are permitted by statute then why should I have any obligation to pay more than required? Isn’t this just the normal way of conducting business? Who said “I” should make America great again? What role does morality play in my business operations? These and other issues will be addressed in the Sunday service “Taxes and the Un-taxable”. 

July 30th, 2017  –  Perceiving, Behaving, Becoming
Bob Schulz 

The title of a professional Education Yearbook, Bob uses its theme of Progressive  Education to discuss human development in schools.  His students during forty  years in education ranged from 10 to 60 years of age. Karen Zanata will perform a piece for viola.  She has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and elsewhere in the United States and Europe.

July 9th, 2017     
Sanctuary and the U U Church
Joe Brennan
From fugitive slaves to fugitive Salvadorians, Unitarians have always been in the forefront of offering sanctuary to persecuted peoples. Our service on the Sanctuary Movement will recall America’s history, both its successes and failures, in being a beacon of sanctuary for oppressed peoples throughout the world. The service will focus on the current realities of those seeking sanctuary, prevailing immigration laws and their enactment, and the contributions of the undocumented whose goals are to avoid death threats, and provide a safe and productive environment for their families. The service will be conducted by professionals, experienced in the legal, social, and policy aspects of this issue.  


Sunday, June 25th, 2017     Strange Bedfellows in a Universe too big for any Mirror
Chris Robinson

The tension between religion and science is palpable throughout modern American culture. Advocates of scientific rationalism denounce religion as superstition, and religious zealotry decries the scientific as blasphemous or soulless. A common moderation approach is towards reconciliation between the two as ‘equal opposites’, but this often leaves a poor taste to those seeking deeper coherence of meaning. I will be exploring the ways in which science and theology relate, how they overlap and, ultimately, how they support and feed one another. Along the way we’ll discuss the aesthetic of mathematical proof, the teleological nature of reality, and why the cover of every book ought to have the words “DON’T PANIC” on the front in large, friendly letters.

Chris Robinson is a PhD student at the University of Louisville, studying Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. A Centre College alumnus, his enjoyment of tormenting his humanities professors left him with a taste for philosophy and critique that bleeds into his mathematics daily


June 18th, 2017    “Pride”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

Though many of us are shocked by the reactionary tone of the last election, in June it’s important to remember how far our nation has come with respect to the recognition and inclusion of the GLBTQ community in the time just since I have served at TJ.  I’ll try to share some of that story, and remember it’s Father’s Day, too. – ERS


June 11th, 2017      “Simplicity”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

The theme materials for this month argue “It’s not just society that celebrates status, stuff and overscheduled lives; we cling to them as well. The busyness of our lives is not just overwhelming; it’s also seductive. Overscheduled lives don’t just tip us over; they tempt us. They promise us power, affirmation and proof that we are of more worth than the one standing next to us. There is a reason we go on and on about how busy we are. We aren’t just complaining; we’re bragging. To be busy is to have made it. To be over-committed is to be wanted and needed.”  I’ll take a look. – ERS


June 4th, 2017    “The Water We Swim In”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

UU congregations have been invited to conduct a “teach-in” on white supremacy.  That didn’t seem to me to be the right thing to put out on our front sign, as it might seem that I would be speaking in favor of white supremacy to at least some of our neighbors. The title I have chosen is meant to stand as a metaphor for the racism in which Americans live that we may have learned not to see. – ERS


 May 14th, 2017    “Law and Love”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

Sometimes churches teach that the so-called “Old” Testament is about law, while Jesus brought new teachings about love.  Some people say that the main split in worldviews these days comes down to those who favor a “strict father” view, and those who favor a “nurturing parent” view.  I’ll explore some of the connections between theology and worldviews on this Mother’s Day Sunday.  We’ll also have a special collection for Kentucky Health Justice Network – ERS


May 7th, 2017     “Blessing”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

There’s an old joke about three clergy who are each approached to do a blessing for a new Maserati.  The first two, say a Catholic priest and a Methodist minister, are happy to do a blessing, but ask “What’s a Maserati?”  The third, a UU, supposedly asks about the performance specs of the sports car, but asks “What’s a blessing?”  The UU minister of the joke apparently doesn’t understand that we UUs actually largely operate out of a theology of blessing.  I’ll try to explain – ERS


April 16th, 2017      “Easter Hope”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

Traditionally Easter has been a time of hope.  While Christian theology has tended to speak of Jesus having made a saving sacrifice with his death, it seems to me that the better message is that what we do with our lives matters, and has consequences beyond our deaths.  We’ll also have our annual Flower Communion.  – ERS


April 9th , 2017      “Creation”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

The theme for this month is “creation” – what does it mean to be a people of creation?  The materials speak of imagination, artistry, and courage, but as it is said that the President will soon begin to withdraw the United States from participation in international climate accords, I’m hearing the theme’s question as asking “what does it mean to be a part of this world?” – ERS

March 26th, 2017    
“The Roots of Humanism”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

Many UUs identify as humanists, and many humanists look back to the first Humanist Manifesto, written in 1933.  I want to go back before that formal statement to look at some of the roots of humanism, and also at the “March for Science” currently scheduled for 4/22, Earth Day. – ERS


March 5th, 2017      “Together We Grow”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

This is our annual canvass kick-off Sunday, as well as the day we dedicate the amazing quilt that so many of you have helped create.  As promised, I plan to speak more on the benefits of generosity. – ERS


February 19th, 2017     “Whitney Young”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

To celebrate Black History Month, I’ll look at the life of Whitney Young.  Young grew up in Kentucky, and when he went to work for the Urban League in Omaha, he and his wife joined the UU church there.  He went on to join UU congregations in Atlanta and in White Plains when he lived in those cities. – ERS


February 12th, 2017    “Salvation”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

Yes, I know that you didn’t expect to see this as a title.  But this is Darwin Day, and I think that if we understand evolution, we have to be concerned about what’s happening to the life on this earth that stands in need of salvation from the problems human activities are causing.  – ERS


February 5th, 2017   “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

 The introductory materials to month’s theme of “desire” seem decidedly un-Buddhist as they say “get out there this month and get your heart broken,” arguing “heartbreak and heartache are not dangers to be avoided; they are signs that we are living fully and leaning into the holy dis-ease that makes us most human.” Heartbreak might be one way of describing what many people are feeling these days. – ERS


January 29th, 2017   “Our relationship with marijuana: from Hebrew Scripture to the West End of Louisville”

 James Higdon will speak on Western humanity’s long and stormy history to the cannabis plant, which begins in the Book of Exodus. Once a focal point of early Hebrew spirituality, the cannabis plant was shunned by later Old Testament authors, after associating cannabis with King Solomon’s reverence of the Queen of Heaven, aka the Divine Feminine. American history has followed a similar storyline. Once grown in vast plantations by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Henry Clay, the American government decided the cannabis plant to be unfit for society about 45 years ago. Today, we are suffering from the results of this decades-long prohibition. The violence and poverty of the West End of Louisville stems from a number of sources, but the use of police power to enforce the marijuana prohibition perpetuates the cycle of violence.


January 15th, 2017    “America’s Original Sin”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

As you know, I’m not given to preaching much about sin, but for the Dr. King Holiday weekend this year, I think I can make an exception. Jim Wallis (of Sojourners) says that America’s Original Sin is racism, and I’ll explore that idea while also considering whether there are other candidates to lift up. – ERS


December 4th, 2016  “Expectation”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

The theme for December is expectation.  Sometimes, our expectations shape what we get – for example, if we expect people to be good, we are more likely to discover and notice goodness in people. And sometimes we have to let go of our expectations in order to deal with what life appears to be handing us.  It’s a good season for exploring this human experience.  – ERS

November 6th, 2016  
“The Better Angels of Our Nature”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

The snapshot of the human condition seemingly demonstrated by the current election might lead the proverbial observer from another planet to conclude that human beings are getting worse, but our UU tradition insists that optimism is justified and that “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” – ERS

October 30th, 2016  
“Graceful Ghosts”
Frank Richmond, Music Director

Are there ghosts in your attic? Perhaps, in the form of handmade objects which bear traces of the spirits of their deceased makers, lovingly crafted into them. On the eve of Halloween, Frank Richmond, using examples of art and music, explores the Arts and Crafts movement, tying it to changing social roles, especially those of women. The service will feature a special performance by violinist Hiroko Lippman.

October 23rd, 2016  
“Why I Care: a man speaks out against domestic violence.”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant and Rus Funk

By far, our loudest and most active voices against domestic violence have been and continue to be the voices of women.  But domestic violence affects us all.  Rus Funk will share his story of becoming a leading national voice to end domestic violence. – Rus Funk  with ERS


September 4, 2016 
“The Rights of Workers”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

 – I don’t usually preach from Biblical texts, but I thought I’d begin with James 5:4 this Labor Day weekend as I look at what has been happening to the labor movement in America and why that matters as we remember that our ongoing UU Study/Action issue is “escalating inequality.” – ERS

August 28, 2016, “
A Religion of Principles”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

In our welcome every week, our welcome speaks of not having a creed, but a covenant.  As we welcome our new members, I’ll look at our TJ covenant, but also at our UUA covenant, where we find our UU principles, and I’ll explore some of what it means to try to live up to those principles.  – ERS

August 14, 2016, 
“Mingling of the Waters”
Barb Friedland, DLRE

Our annual multigenerational ingathering service uses water, a basic element of l8ife, to represent our community. Please bring some water symbolic of is meaningful to you and we reach to touch the deep springs of life that connect us all in the interdependent web. A meditation time will be offered from 10:30 to 10:50 so that those who prefer to add their water to our collection bowl in a private, meditative manner may do so. Together, we will also create a visual symbol of our coming together through a community art project to create a River of Meaning in the Gathering Space before and after the service. Our Early Childhood Education Staff will be on hand to meet the needs of families with very young children.

August 7, 2016, “
On the Path Towards Understanding”
Jordan Friedland

Mental illness can be invisible. This can leave the people around someone with a mental disorder frustrated. Join me as I take you on a journey through my life and struggles with mental illness. Together we are all on the path to understanding people with these invisible mental disorders, and greater understanding of each other.

July 10th, 2016 – “
Environmental (In)Justice”
Sarah Lynn Cunnigham

We live in complex times, and often wonder what to think about controversies we hear in the news. We might hear the terms “sustainability” and “environmental justice” so often as to wonder what their mean in specific situations. Sarah Lynn Cunningham, an environmental engineer, educator and historian, will lead us in a discussion of the Flint, Michigan drinking water crisis and the methane biodigestors proposed for West Louisville using some of our UU principles. 

July 3rd, 2016  – “
How Far We Have Come”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

I’ll share some special TJ members’ memories and more as I share some of the story of how far we’ve come as a congregation since TJ’s early days.  I also expect that we’ll have something new and special to share – come and see! – ERS

June 26, 2016 – “
The Fight for Marriage Equality from Kentucky to the Supreme Court”
Shannon Fauver and Dawn Elliott

 Louisville attorneys Shannon Fauver and Dawn Elliott have battled for the right for all persons to be married. From June 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a part of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional in that it restricted marriage to one man and one woman.  In June 2015, the high court ruled that all states must recognize and allow same-sex marriages.   They will discuss “The Fight for Marriage Equality from Kentucky to the Supreme Court.”

June 19, 2016  – 
“Re-imagining Fathers”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

Let’s face it – fathers often have an image problem.  For generations, people who have looked at the Bible have figured that Jesus was the nice one, while God was likely to be vengeful.  And the counter to the authoritarian patriarch in the popular culture has often been the bumbling, clueless dad.  But maybe these days a new understanding of fatherhood is emerging? – ERS

June 12, 2016 – 
“The Universe Bends Towards Justice”
Rev . Elwood Sturtevant

For me, Dr. King’s paraphrase of Theodore Parker’s words, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice” is a statement of faith.  That is, I can’t prove it, but I believe it to be so.  As we anticipate the Kentuckiana Pride events and celebrate Pride Month, I’ll look at the direction of inclusion. – ERS

June 5th, 2016 – “
Beatrix Potter”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

This summer the world will celebrate the 150th birthday of Beatrix Potter, a British Unitarian.  You may remember her stories of Peter Rabbit and the illustrations, but she is also remembered for her interest in land conservation and her contributions to the British National Trust.  I’ll share some of her story a bit before her birthday and a bit after Women’s History Month. – ERS

April 10th, 2016 – 
“Missing the Mark”
Rev. Dawn Cooley, Minister First Unitarian Church, Louisville, KY

April 3rd, 2016   –  “Justice Sunday”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

Every year, the UU Service Committee invites us to learn about and take action on issues of human rights “so that we can make a difference in the world.”  This year, the issue is economic justice and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclamation that “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.” – ERS

March 6th, 2016 – “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore”
Rev Elwood Sturtevant

 It’s the first Sunday in March, so you know it’s time for our annual canvass. And of course, there is a theme. There is no place like home. Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t you think? Never give up. No one knows what’s going to happen next. And of course, a heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others. – ERS

February 14th, 2016 – Love and Justice”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

  This Sunday, we come to the conclusion of the Standing on the Side of Love’s 30 Days of Love, and I’ll look at what love and justice have to do with each other, starting with something Jesus is quoted as saying: “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.” [Matt. 5:17, New Living Translation]  – ERS

January 24th, 2016  –  “Loving the Hell Out of the World”
Rev. Dawn Cooley, First Unitarian Church Louisville

How are we, as individuals and as people of faith, called to live our values in our communities and in the world? What guidance does our Universalist heritage provide?

January 17th, 2016  – “Martin Luther King’s Call to Build the Beloved Community in the Time of Black Lives Matter: What is Our Part?
Carla Wallace

Members of Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice will share about the ways we can be part of the change we need to build a community where ALL people matter, and the particular role of us who are white in this change making. Carla F Wallace, a founder of national SURJ, will give the sermon.  Carla has worked on issues of racial justice and LGBTQ equality for decades.

January 10th, 2016 – “Open Hearts, Inquiring Minds, and Helping Hands”
Rev. Elwood Sturtevant and others

Chances are, when you heard “Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church” you figured the “church” part of the name gave you a clue about what to expect.  And like many people these days, perhaps your expectations about churches aren’t all positive.  After all, religion is commonly thought to be divisive, and churches are often imagined to be judgmental and dogmatic.  If that’s at least some of what you expect from a church, then we invite you to experience at TJUC something that may be not what you expected, but instead what you have been looking for: a community of open hearts, inquiring minds, and helping hands where no one pretends to know all the answers, but where everyone is encouraged to search for meaning and to live the Golden Rule.

On the following recordings please turn your sound up to listen

December 20th, 2015 –  “Christmas Values”

Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

This season has more and more become one of merchandising, so that seeing “Christmas Values” probably makes many people think that it’s a reference to a sale.  But I think there are other values to be found in the season. – ERS



November 1st Sermon –  “Working with Allies”

Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

People with passionate beliefs often find it difficult to make alliances with folk who only share some of their beliefs.  The Tea Party, for example, apparently didn’t find soon-to-be-former Speaker of the House Boehner to be a pure enough conservative.  UUs, however, try to remember that each of us is unique, so we focus more on what we have in common than on our disagreements.  I think we need to remember that when we join with others in alliances, too.  – ERS

October  18th Sermon  – “The Rights of Children”

Rev. Elwood Stiurtevant

Last year, we took a stand on CEDAW, the convention to end discrimination against women.  This year, for the Children’s Sabbath, I’ll look the rights of children, and how the United States, Somalia, and South Sudan are the only countries in the world which have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  There will also be a special collection for Maryhurst.  – ERS



September 27th  Service – “About Flight”

Frank X Walker

will read from and talk about his newest work, About Flight, a collection of poems that speak to the impact of addiction on the families of the addicts.  The award-winning author of six other poetry collections, Walker became the first African-American as well as the youngest to be selected as Kentucky’s poet laureate in 2013.  His work focuses on social justice issues as well as themes of family, identity, and place. He is the co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets and the creator of the term “Affrilachia,” and has dedicated much of his career to “challenging the notion of a homogenous, all-white literary landscape of the Appalachian region.” In 2007, he became the founding editor and publisher of PLUCK! The New Journal of Affrilachian Art and Culture. He is currently an associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Kentucky where he also directs the African American and Africana Studies program in the College of Arts and Sciences.

September 20th  – “Church in the Age of the Internet”

Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

There’s no denying that the institution we call church goes back a long time, and from time to time it needs an upgrade.  We’re going to be looking at new church goals in the coming year, so I thought I’d begin the conversation today with some of the things that are happening around our movement, and some thoughts about what’s happening after the service today. – ERS



August 23, 2015

“The Flaming Chalice”

Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

The first time I attended a UU service when I was a teenager, my mother later reported that it didn’t feel like going to church for her because there wasn’t a cross in the front somewhere.  Today, I’ll tell the story of the flaming chalice, and explore some of what religious symbols can mean.

June 21, 2015 – “Valuing Families”

Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

This is Pride Month as well as Father’s Day.  Recently, the head of the Boy Scouts called for removing its ban on gay adult leaders, and Ireland voted to legalize same sex marriage.  Traditional understandings of family are changing, but family remains important.  I’ll look at some of what is happening and at where our UU movement has been involved.

May 3, 2015 – “The New Era in Unitarian Universalism”

Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

TJ is one of the 200+ member congregations of the MidAmerica Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and while TJ celebrated Earth Sunday, I was completing my attendance at this year’s Regional Assembly. I’ll share what I learn, especially from the two theme presentations by Rosemary Bray McNatt (the new president of the seminary I attended) and Marlin Lavenhar (the senior minister at All Souls, a congregation with almost 2000 members and almost 1000 children and youth).



March 1, 2015 – “Priceless”

Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

The first Sunday in March is canvass Sunday, and this year we will celebrate our TJ community and lift up some of the ways in which it is priceless.  We’ll also look at the relationship between values and money, and share our annual muffin communion.  – ERS

March 30, 2014 – “HUGs, RAKs, and GIs”

Roger Omanson

Roger Omanson will be speaking about HUGs, RAKs, and GIs, all of which should help make the world a better place. Roger is a member of TJUC.



  April 11, 2014 – “Jefferson’s bible”  – Rev. Elwood Sturtevant

Thomas Jefferson famously created not a Bible, but two edited versions of the Gospels, which he called The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth and The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.  I’ll look at why Jefferson did this, and some of the choices he made in light of what we understand of his religious opinions.  (Jefferson was born April 13, 1743)