Minister Jill Cowie
A little about me..
I was born in a Whitefish Bay, a suburb of Milwaukee and when I was six my parents and three siblings moved to Canandaigua, New York, a Finger Lake named by the indigenous people, meaning “the chosen spot. For the ten years I lived there it was just that. When I was sixteen, my father was promoted to Mobil headquarters in New York City and we moved to Fairfield County, Ct. where we attended the Westport UU church.
After graduating with a liberal arts degree from College of the Atlantic in Maine, I worked first as a science teacher at a residential treatment center for high school age students, then as an Outward Bound Instructor for adjudicated youth. After receiving a Master in Social Work from Boston University I became a Presidential Management Fellow for the Federal Government and focused my career on employment and training/economic development programs for low-income families. I worked for ten years at the Federal, State, and local level as the Executive Director of non-profits that received federal/state funding for training and economic development..
I inherited the “twin gene” and was blessed to give birth to two sets of twins in two years. We lived in Key West for five years and moved to Massachusetts when they became school age. My husband works for the National Marine Sanctuary Program and the appreciation of the ocean has been a common value we have instilled in our children, starting with snorkeling on coral reefs when they were four. I still remember when my daughter bobbed to the surface and said through her snorkel “Mom, I just saw a good night fish” (meaning a midnight parrotfish). Boating and hiking are mainstays of enjoyment we still share with our now young-adult children.
My adult journey of faith officially began 21 years ago when I first entered the doors of UU Duxbury. I fell in love with the Hymn “Just as Long As I have Breath I Must Answer Yes To Life.” I was 40 years old, and 7 years into raising my 4 kids. My journey to “Yes” began with the woman honoring adult Religious Education class “Cakes for The Queen of Heaven” that explores the Jewish and Christian cultures that may have worshiped the female as divine. I can still feel the joyful surprise when I “met” Sophia, the feminine voice of the Logos in the Hebrew Bible. It was her voice that included me in the holy story; her voice that invited me to bring all that was my life into the sanctuary and find it holy. Being a parent awakened my senses to the deep interconnection of all beings, and the necessity of recognizing the inherent worth of all beings. After ten years of leadership in local non-profits, I was called into the ministry of cultivating the heart space that empowers people and organizations to fully embody the values of compassion, justice, worth, and interconnectedness. My ministry is deepened by the wisdom cultivated over the years as I have processed the early loss of my mother, who died of cancer when I was twenty-two. As a daughter of an alcoholic I have come to appreciate along with my siblings the resilience of children who are raised by alcoholics. Both of these experiences ground me in the truth that from our sufferings often come our greatest gifts. Theologically, I am drawn to the cosmology by which all of creation is the expression of an energy engaged in a sacred journey to discover and actualize its sacred possibilities through an emerging process of being and becoming. This energy or spirit is both within and transcends time to find expression within the spiritual practices of the mystics, the inter-being philosophy of buddhism, and the principles embodied by humanists. Informed by love, and human agency this spirit creates an ever-expanding reality of a beloved community.