Rev. Cheryl Leshay
Cheryl is our affiliated community minister. A minister who grew out of our congregation, her two now-grown children and her husband, Bruce, held down the fort here while she completed her education and served UU congregations elsewhere. Before coming back home to Worcester, Cheryl served several churches all over New England. After completing 18 years as a professional UU religious educator, nine of those as an ordained UU minister, Cheryl followed her call into Campus Ministry.
She returned to us in 2012 and began forming an organization to support Worcester UU college students seeking a UU presence on campus. While Cheryl is here with us, often in the pews on Sunday, most of her ministry takes place elsewhere, with college students.
While we are home base, her ministry is in the world outside our walls. Her pulpit supply work and “The Campus Ministry Road Show” take her all over the district.
She teaches World Religions as adjunct faculty at Nichols College. Recently, Cheryl has also developed quite the wedding ministry. She serves the Clara Barton District of the UUA as clerk, and is a member of the district’s accessibility committee. It is rumored she writes fiction in her spare time.
She swears all of this activity serves her primary ministry on campus.
Of her work in forming and running the Campus Ministry, she has this to say:
“The name of my community ministry is Greater Worcester Unitarian Universalist Campus Ministries. This group, lovingly called GWUUCM, is young itself. As its ultimate goal, GWUUCM works to support and sustain student run UUClubs on each of the 12 local area campuses. I am both the director and the minister of GWUUCM. I minister to campus-based people, (students, faculty, administrators), by serving as their UU chaplain.
“The group provides support in a variety of ways. We work as allies, providing institutional memory for the transitioning population of academe. We secure administrative and faculty liaisons, leadership resources. We assure a pastoral presence, regular on-campus worship and fellowship as well as an e-newsletter connection for all area UU students.
“The more I interact with our UU college students, the more convinced I am of the importance of this ministry for our movement as a whole. I can’t abandon our young adults, and I find that I am not alone in that sentiment. Funding this ministry is its biggest challenge. I am delighted that so many UUs from all over the area have joined in to help. As part of this ministry, I also aim to provide a way for our many small local congregations to participate in this campus ministry mission.
With 12 colleges, the need is huge. By pooling our efforts through one central campus ministry organization, we can make the dream a reality.”