Unitarian Fellowship of Sarnia & Port Huron
A life-long Unitarian Universalist who "built her own theology", Wendy Starr felt called to become a Lay Chaplain for the Unitarian Fellowship of Sarnia and Port Huron because, "there was a real need."
Hers is a lay led Fellowship, and Wendy
performs weddings, child dedications, funerals and memorial services.
She has been a Lay Chaplain for over five years.
Some couples have chosen to join the UU Fellowship after Wendy
performed their weddings.
finds memorials the most fulfilling because, "they're what make me grow."
has taken extra training as a "Celebrant" and is able to do services at her
local funeral home, where she
is looked on as being able to offer a non-denominational but spiritual service.
has already done training for Unitarian Lay Chaplains on this topic.
new training will be enriching even for experienced Lay Chaplains
, and will include insights into strategic communication and deep structured listening.
"Just being a sympathetic ear helps," she
In preparing for memorials, Wendy
emphasizes the importance of asking the right questions.
has developed a questionnaire to help Lay Chaplains
discuss even difficult circumstances, such as a suicide or the loss of a child.
says that there is a lot to learn about what to say and what not to say, and that to be the most effective, a Lay Chaplain needs to "do their own work" first.
is talking with people about their loved one, sometimes someone will say something funny.
"They'll start laughing, and then you'll see that look of guilt.
They need to know it's good to remember the humour too."
says most families tell her
it's the three or four hour interview she
does with them before the funeral that really helps begin the healing process.
is not working as a Lay Chaplain, she
is involved in another form of service.
She works as a waitress, and has often found a spiritual component to that work.
For example, when a regular customer appeared after a few months' absence and for the first time without her
asked a few polite questions and learned the woman's husband had recently died.
Since the restaurant wasn't busy that morning, she
was able to listen and sympathize and in a sense, give the woman permission to enjoy everyday things like going out to breakfast again.
is a mother of three.