By RENEE FITE
Anyone attending the recent Tahlequah Community Playhouse show, “Nunsense” would have seen the spirited Mother Superior portrayed by Rev. Susan Hamilton.
Just recently, Hamilton has begun speaking at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tahlequah, where’s she’s attended the past nine months.
A California transplant, she served as pastor at Parkside Community Church, and United Church of Christ in Sacramento, Calif., for 15 years.
Although she didn’t know she wanted to be a pastor, she said she was called, and responded, earning a Master’s of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary. She also studied at Santa Sophia seminary in Sparrow Hawk Village.
Part of the appeal of the Unitarian Church is its open, liberal and social justice stance, she said, which is very similar to that of the UCC.
“The UU accepts people of all faiths and no faith, which means in any given congregation you’ll find people who identify as Christians, Buddhists, Jewish, Humanists, or earth-centered spirituality. The UU is a comfortable fit for couples who come from two differing faith traditions,” said Hamilton.
UUCT welcomes all. People with questions, doubts and critical minds but open hearts will find a comfortable place among the congregation, said Hamilton.
“Folks who have been rejected or judged by another congregation will experience acceptance from us,” she said.
She likes to center sermons on healing and wholeness.
“These are my favorites, because we all have been wounded in life and need to know healing is possible,” she said.
This past Sunday was designated Holy Humor Sunday.
“It’s a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, the joy of the human journey, and to express that we take our faith too seriously to be somber,” she said.
Sunday, May 4 is a flower communion service in which they celebrate individual uniqueness, as each flower is unique, “but together we make a beautiful bouquet,” said Hamilton.
To celebrate Beltain, they’ll have a family picnic in the park following the May 4 service.
The church members of UUCT are a cross-section of faiths as is typical in UU congregation.
“They are passionate about living their faith in the here and now,” said Hamilton. “They stand for peace and justice, advocating for those without a voice, including Mother Earth. Love is the spirit of the congregation and they work hard to create a respectful and supportive faith community.”
As a mother and pastor, Hamilton is very interested in helping youth and parents succeed.
Youth today face too many issues that are complex and difficult, she said.
“We encourage our youth to dialogue about their pressures, their questions, and their ideals. We encourage them to make a difference in this world and to learn from our mistakes,” she said. “We teach them more than simple tolerance of others, we teach them to respect and value a diverse community.”
Encouragement for parents is a variation on the family that plays together, stays together.
“A family that serves a greater cause in their community together, will grow together and stay together,” she said. “Get involved and get your children involved.”
Music is an important aspect of worship and several community members share their talents, she said.
“We are very fortunate to have as pianist on staff, Farren Mayfield, who teaches at Northeastern State University. He also brings to us a variety of other musicians from the music program at the university,” she said. “Several of our members also play guitar and the Celtic group, Bear Creek Troupe, is made up of many of our members.”
Mentors who encouraged her are Michael and Jackie Kortright, UCC ministers in California.
She is married to Rev. Mark Throckmorton, who will graduate this summer from NSU with his master’s degree in substance abuse counseling, the couple have two children: married daughter, Rachel, 32, in Boise, Idaho, and son, Justin, 24, in Sacramento.
“Mark is invaluable to my ministry. He plays guitar, manages technical support at the church, cooks for events, and is an excellent counselor. He’s a great pastor’s wife!” she said.
The couple has been enjoying making their home in Tahlequah. The community reminds her husband of the town in which he grew up in Wisconsin. University towns always have so much to offer the community, she said. They live in Sparrow Hawk Village.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tahlequah, 104 N. College Ave., holds adult discussion forum at 10 a.m., and Sunday services at 11 a.m. Child care is provided each Sunday after the children’s conversation time in the service. For more information, call (918) 456-7900.