Religions and Spirituality

More Than 300 Attend Ceremony as Summit's Beacon UU Installs Leadership Team

The Summit Beacon UU choir, under the direction of Music Director Mitchell Vines, performs for the assembled crowd. Credits: Wendy Roome
From left, the leadership team of Rev. Emilie Boggis, Dr. Tuli Patel, and Rev. Robin Tanner. Credits: Wendy Roome
Youth Group leaders Ian Hicks and Tennessee Woodiel read "The Low Road" by poet Marge Piercy at the installation service. Credits: Photo by Wendy Roome

SUMMIT, NJ - Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit officially inaugurated its new leadership team with the installation of Reverend Robin Tanner as Minister of Worship and Outreach and Reverend Emilie Boggis as Minister of Congregational Life, along with the affirmation of Dr. Tuli Patel as the congregation’s executive director.

More than 320 members of the congregation and community attended the afternoon ceremony, held in the large, modern sanctuary at Summit's Congregation Ohr Shalom in Summit. The synagogue accommodated a larger audience than the New England-style Beacon building -- Beacon was formerly known as The Unitarian Church in Summit.

At the ceremony, Summit Mayor Nora Radest offered greetings, and singers from Fountain Baptist Church joined Beacon’s choir in a musical number, conducted by Beacon Music Director Mitchell Vines. Adults and youth leaders from Beacon’s congregation marched through the crowded auditorium to take their seats.

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Officials of the Unitarian Universalist Association traveled to join in the service, including UUA Moderator Jim Key, the top elected lay leader in the movement. Reverend Cheryl M. Walker, president of the UU Ministers Association, preached the sermon, which was based on similarities between the individual and team leadership required in both ministry and baseball.

In establishing a leadership team model, Beacon’s board of trustees has initiated an unusual pastoral-management model that enables ministers to work with congregants while handing administration over to a lay person focused on such details. The three Leadership Team members are co-equal in the arrangement.

Beacon UU’s congregation voted to call Reverend Tanner as Minister of Worship and Outreach last May 22 after a nationwide search that included the Leadership Team model. Reverend Tanner formerly served as lead minister at Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Reverend Boggis joined Beacon as assistant minister in 2005 and was called as Minister of Congregational Life in March of 2015. She graduated from Meadville Lombard Theological School, a UU seminary in Chicago.

Dr. Patel began her work at Beacon in 2004 as Director of Religious Education. The board of trustees asked her to become Executive Director in early 2014. She holds a doctorate in education from UCLA.

For more information on the Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit call 908-273-3245 or visit


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