Walking Toward Trouble


Rev. Janet Parsons, third from left, is joined by other local clergy in a procession to her installation ceremony.

This month marks the first anniversary of the arrival of our church’s 25th settled minister, Rev. Janet Parsons. After her installation in Spring 2016, Janet published an opinion piece in the Gloucester Daily Times about Sister Simone Campbell’s concept of “walking toward trouble.” Blog editor Jan Young interviewed Janet about her GDT column and what it means to her to walk towards trouble.

Read Janet’s column here.


I understand that one of your reasons for choosing a ministry is that you wanted to have an urban ministry. Can you tell us a little more about that decision, and also in what ways you and the church can walk toward trouble in Gloucester?

I’ve always loved cities. I like the energy of cities, and the diversity, and I just find them much more interesting than the suburbs. I think that the needs and the issues are so much more complex and really call out for a Unitarian Universalist presence. Because of our commitment to justice and transformational work I feel as though we can do really important work in cities.

What issues?

The obvious one that comes to mind is addiction. I was also struck by this as a community with really obvious income inequality—people who are homeless as well as very wealthy people as well. It’s a community that seems to hold that wide of a spectrum. So I was drawn here by hearing a lot about what’s happening with the fishing industry, knowing it’s a community in transition and a community in which there will be a lot of change and growth in areas that they haven’t even anticipated yet. And thinking that I’d like to be a part of it.

There’s a lot of income inequality right in our own church, and in a way that’s been a source of pride for the church–that the wealthy and well-connected worship side by side with very low-income people who may be homeless or transient, and that people to seem to create friendships here. Can you comment?

For me personally, that made me feel that this is the type of community that allows us to honor the inherent worth and dignity of each person. So that allows us to live our values and embody our principles. There is a lot of room and space within this community for us to genuinely welcome a wide diversity of people.

In closing?

My own goals are for us to live this out more visibly and actively in the community, as much beyond the four walls as possible. We’re doing okay with living our values, but my goal is to carry our values outside and make our mark in the wider community.


The purpose of this blog is to raise topics for dialogue and discussion. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church or its board of managers.









2 thoughts on “Walking Toward Trouble

  1. Reverend Janet touches squarely on topics that define both the weaknesses and strengths of Gloucester. These are the sorts of characteristics that bonded the poet –and bond so many of all of us — with our community. They are cause, ironically, paradoxically, and yet simultaneously, for both concern and celebration.


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