The Rev. Aaron Payson delivers the Reflection “The Other Side of Sadness” during the service on May 29, 2022. (photo by Betty Jenewin)

Rev. Aaron R. Payson began his tenure at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester in August 1999. He has a BA in psychology with a minor in religion and philosophy from Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pa., and an MDiv from Andover Newton Theological School, Newton Centre, Mass. He is currently studying for his doctorate at Hartford Seminary.

Aaron served as minister of The First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta, Ohio, from 1991–1999. In Marietta, he was involved in community activities including chaplaincy at Marietta Memorial Hospital and Home Nursing and Hospice Services. He was a founding member of the Washington County Community Crisis Response Team; served as president of the Greater Marietta Ministerial Association and vice president of the Wood County, W.Va., Clergy Association; and taught courses in the interdisciplinary study of death and dying at Washington State Community College and Marietta College.

Active as well in district and denominational groups, Aaron served on the Executive Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association as the Publications Representative. At the Summer Institute of the Ohio Meadville District, he has been a theme speaker for youth, young adults, and the main conference. Over the course of his ministry, he has led district-wide men’s conferences, been theme speaker and minister of the week at Ferry Beach, served on the nominating committee of the Clara Barton District, and been the Good Offices Representative for the CBD UUMA Chapter. A founding member of the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry Team, Aaron responded to the aftermath of hurricanes Charley in Florida and Katrina in Louisiana. In addition, Aaron has presented in many places across the country on Emergency Preparedness for Faith-based Institutions. Aaron currently serves as an emergency preparedness trainer and trauma team responder with UUTRM.

Besides commentaries in local newspapers, Aaron has published articles on reproductive rights in Conscience magazine and has a chapter on mealtime as a spiritual discipline in Everyday Spiritual Practices (Skinner House, 1999) edited by Scott Alexander. He has also presented papers at the Berkshire Study Group on the Sufi mystic Rumi, and at Collegium on the ethical intersection of same-sex marriage and reproductive rights and on the work of 19th-century Spiritualist Andrew Jackson Davis. He was an emergency medical technician as a teen and young adult. As a minister, he has served on the boards of Daybreak of Central Massachusetts, the Worcester County Ecumenical Council, the Men’s Resource Center of Central Massachusetts, the Interreligious Forum, and the clergy caucus of Worcester Interfaith. Additionally, Aaron recently completed his tenure on the National Board of Directors of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.  He was president of the Massachusetts Affiliate of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and the Jane Fund of Central Massachusetts.  He was involved in efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

Currently Aaron is on the Board of Worcester Interfaith, the Worcester Clergy Police Partnership Program, and the Domestic Violence Taskforce of the YWCA of Central MA. In addition Aaron serves on the Good Officer Support Team of the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association and as a Compassionate Care Trainer with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice in Washington, D.C. Aaron is an Adjunct Faculty Instructor in the Sociology Department of Worcester State University where he offers courses in the Sociology of Religion and the Sociology of Death & Dying.

Aaron lives in Worcester with his wife, Kristen, an editor with The Landmark, a local newspaper serving communities around Worcester in Central MA; his daughter, Morgaine; and son, Charles. The son of the late Rev. Robert E. Payson, a Unitarian Universalist minister, and the late Marcia Payson, an educator, Aaron credits his family with his passion for ministry.