ABOVE: REFLECTION IN GUADALAJARA, MEXICO
Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael has served the Accotink UU Church in Burke, Virginia since August 2008. A co-founder of the Maryland chapter of the Nuclear Freeze Campaign in 1983, Rev Scott helped organize the Southwest Baltimore Tree-mendous Maryland initiative in 1993, bringing fresh, live plants and playgrounds to vacant city lots. Rev Scott also worked as a labor organizer for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers from 1998 until 2000.
Scott prepared for the ministry at Meadville Lombard Theological School. At Meadville, Rev. Scott received the Jenkin Lloyd Jones Scholarship, the Atherton Scholarship, and the Von Ogden Vogt Scholarship for liturgical studies. Scott holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UMBC and a Masters in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, Annapolis. A musician, audio engineer and music producer, Scott has also worked as an electrician, an electrical code enforcement officer, and taught English, Writing and Drama in several colleges, including Coppin University, in Baltimore.
In 2007 Scott founded TUUL-Belt Ministries, a practical ministry training people with construction experience to respond to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Rev. Scott is the 2011 recipient of the Outstanding Contribution by a Minister Award from the Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice. Scott serves on the Fairfax City Core Team for Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement. V.O.I.C.E. is a congregation based community organization promoting immigration reform and economic justice for Northern Virginia's middle and low income families whose largest win was securing $60 million in relief for homeowners defrauded in the Mortgage Crisis.
Though he graduated High School in suburban Bel Air, Maryland, Rev Scott was raised on the streets of East Baltimore. The gift of growing up in a tough neighborhood made him resilient and inspired compassion for those who may not always benefit from our economy. His working class parents struggled hard to give him a life better than what they had known, and this ethic of sacrifice and persistence seeped deeply into who he is today. “I have never expected anything to come easily nor to be simply provided,” Scott shares. Coming from such humble origins attuned his concern towards those who have little material wealth and guides his value formation to this day. He is outgoing, has a strong memory, loves people and community, understands managing church buildings and grounds, and reads voraciously.
Rev. Anya graduated from Meadville Lombard Theological School in 2007. Since, she has served the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling, in Sterling, VA. Rev. Anya grew up in North Branford Connecticut where she learned to love the ocean, played countless sports, spent hours in the wild, and cared for injured animals. Her parents profession in the theatre, attuned her early to the gifts of the lively arts - especially their ability to encourage empathy and understanding. She was honored to learn from the series of 10 plays about race in American, created by August Wilson - indeed this experience, coupled with personal encounters, had a lasting impact on her life, calling her specifically to racial justice work.
In college at the University of the South, Anya studied philosophy and fine arts, as she worked to build bridges of understanding between diverse social circles. She has worked as a fine art photographer, dark-room artist, caterer and chef. She first felt the call to ministry as a youth in her Unitarian Universalist Youth Group, but had to discover her call again, in young-adulthood, before she pursued seminary.
Rev. Anya has helped the UU Congregation of Sterling triple it's Sunday attendance, and develop its outreach and connection to the wider community. Under her leadership the congregation grew from 53 members to 125 members plus 50 pledging friends. Together, they literally broke down a wall and added 50% more space, developed numerous new congregation wide-programs, and transformed their local community with generous donations of time and money.
Rev. Anya has received awards and recognition for her interfaith work and has been elected by her colleagues to serve twice on the chapter executive team. Both Michelle and Barack Obama had Rev. Anya offer invocations at campaign events.
When Rev. Anya reflects on her ministry in Sterling she is most gratified by the congregation's dual achievements of a sustained pastoral care team, and solid justice program. The care the congregation is now able to offer it's own community as well as the surrounding region is a powerful ministry that will last and continue to grow. When UUSterling chose "Seek, Love, and Serve Boldly" as their mission, Rev. Anya felt that her ministry had made an impact that would last.
Scott and Anya:
We were advised by other co-ministers to serve separate congregations for their first settlement. That sage advice is appreciated as we have had the time to learn our own strengths and weaknesses and attune our own ministerial identities. While working independently, we have relied upon one another's guidance and support. We have also worked together at district, congregational and community events and found how well our particular callings meet and merge. We have read one another's sermons and have encouraged and challenged one another to be our best selves. We now long to unite our professional gifts to serve a single congregation.