This page is adapted from a page that Peter had while minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover, Mass (ca. 2000). He has since retired from the ministry and now lives in a house built by his great-grandfather, Frank Seavey Kalloch in Rockland, Maine.
For a current biography click: BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES for Peter Tufts Richardson
Rev. Peter T. Richardson
I. Life as a Minister
I feel fortunate as a minister of religion to serve a congregation which dwells in the same general universe of spiritual vision, emphasis and practice that I do. Therefore I work to help elaborate and inspire that vision and practice in the lives of participants, to assist in building our community one with another, and to further our work in a world around us which sorely needs our presence in it. I live in Andover, Massachusetts, U.S.A., where the Congregation also centers its activity. The paragraphs below will fill in aspects of my life which may illustrate what I bring to the larger ministry of our Congregation.
In 1984 when the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association adopted its new Principles and Purposes, I stood at a microphone and wrote the line, "wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life." That the delegates quickly passed it was for me an affirmation of our identity as a religion aspiring to serve a planetary human situation. The U.U.A. is the first religious body in the world to affirm an interfaith basis for its own ministry. World citizenship has been a life focus for me since fourth grade when I began a stamp collection and eighth grade when I began reading the scriptures of world religion. Actualizing global centered living in local religious communities has been my life dedication.
To explore this world emphasis further I invite you to click on the announcement of my new book, Four Spiritualities: Expressions of Self, Expressions of Spirit; on sermons by P.T.R.; explorations in scripture; editorials and articles by P.T.R.
An important turning point in my conduct of worship occurred in 1975 when I decided as a spiritual practice to write all the prayers and meditations I deliver. Prior to that time I had often read poetry of others. I have found in this discipline a rewarding way to connect with what I know others are experiencing at the time, and to keep my own antennas open to the world around me. I collected 52 of these into a book (Meditations In a Maine Meeting House) in 1986 and hope soon to select another collection. Meanwhile on request I'll supply to you a copy of those you like.
When I began preaching in 1965 I was afraid I might run out of topics by the first summer solstice. It never happened because I have received a rich feedback of responses and suggestions. This interaction with parishioners also leads to adult education meetings and workshops where we have an opportunity to dialogue more deeply on life issues, spiritual growth, issues of society. Please e mail me (PTEMR@aol.com), or speak with me at any time.
The same principle operates in the pastoral aspects of my ministry. When I listen to you I often become insightful enough to be helpful and I am enriched in my own life. Rites of Passage (of birth, coming of age, services of union/marriage, and memorial services/funerals) keep me connected with others in experiencing the cycles of our lives. How are you doing? It is important for us to keep in touch.
In 1973 a parishioner took me with him to a camera store and I bought my first camera. It disrupted whole dimensions of my seeing and opened up new creative avenues in my life and ministry. Since then I have published over 600 pictures and incorporated slide shows in worship and education. In the '90s I have traveled to 22 countries on religious pilgrimage and have documentation in colored slides of some of the most wonderfully spiritual places on the planet.
Unitarian Universalist history has been a love of mine since ninth grade when I walked into my first UU foyer and discovered that many of my heroes (Emerson, Jefferson, Darwin, etc.) were Unitarians. My thesis in graduate school catalogued the 69 Unitarian churches in the City of Boston, 20 of which are mentioned in a U.U. Christian article I wrote in 1975, "Boston Unitarianism: 1825 and Now." In 1986, in reaction to Evangelical assertions to kinship with the founding fathers (largely untrue) I privately published an essay called, Spiritual Founders of Our Constitution to set the record straight. It is subtitled, Six Great Principles of Freedom (liberty, independence, reason, character, openness, pluralism). Freedom is a world theme, irresistible I believe to our deepest natures. It is a central portion of our U.U. story.
II. Family and Home
I am blessed in that Eleanor, my partner in marriage, is also my soul mate. It is a lovely companionship. My first wife, Caroline, and I parented two daughters, Tamsin and Bradbury and I am now "Grandfather Richardson" to Charles and Peter Kemos and Vann and Sarah Brazz. All live in Maine as does my mother. My second wife, Mona, died tragically of a brain tumor, so I have been single in three ways (unmarried, divorced and widowed). While my life has had its share of losses close to me I feel fortunate and inhabit a very good place at this point.
Eleanor and I share a love of travel, photography, writing, family connections. We share cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc. equally. However she says when people drop by and see dirty dishes in the kitchen, she probably gets the credit even though chances are they are mine! Long ago we both summered in Maine on landscapes in sight of each other, but only first met at General Assembly in 1986. Indeed we suspect my great grandfather (from Rockland) peddled tinware to her "summer folk" great grandmother on North Haven. I am still connected to Knox County as Historian of the Kalloch Family Reunion Association, the oldest such group in America (135 years).
Every New Year we invite our friends and members of the Congregation to an open house and light over 100 candles on candlesticks I inherited from my great uncle, one of the founders of the Rushlight Club. Eleanor and her music friends enjoy candlelight concerts too in our living room. Our home reflects our life interests and if you walk in between state occasions and find chaos, chances are our lives are somewhat like that as well!
For what it is worth I received an A.B. from Tufts University, a M.Div. from St. Lawrence University (two Universalist founded colleges) and a M.ED. from Bridgewater State College. That's about all the "higher" education this lifetime can manage.
I hold memberships in the International Association of Religious Freedom, the Association for Psychological Type, the Unitarian Universalist Minister's Association (Secretary of our local chapter), the Andover Clergy Association, the UU Historical Society, U. U.s for Jewish Awareness, the American Civil Liberties Union, Greenpeace, Planned Parenthood, Abortion Rights Action League, the Maine Historical Society, the Partner Church Council, Alban Institute, and too many other important organizations.
In the past I have learned a great deal as founding Chair of the Board of an elder services agency (Kent, Ohio), political candidate for Regent of a Community College (Midland, Texas), founder and later Chair of the Downtown Revitalization Committee (Kennebunk, Maine) and many other opportunities to serve communities. Anti-nuclear war and peace, ecological integrity and issues of religious freedom have particularly held my loyalty. More recently women's rights and opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation are central. And I have views on educational reform!
And what do I do on my days off? Mow lawn, shovel snow, prune trees, turn over the compost pile, visit aged mother or grandchildren, buy books, tend collections, clean house, browse internet, listen to music from India or Iran or finish things in ministry too critical to let slide over into the following week. And I keep a journal and sit staring at the wall, waves or a tree.
Books by Peter T. Richardson: (For up-to-date list of available books, prices and ordering information, click the "Red Barn" link below)
The Spiritual Founders of Our Constitution, 1987 (Privately Published).
Available from the author at $10.00 plus $2.00 postage and handling.
Meditations In A Maine Meeting House,1986 (privately printed) - Out of print.
Resources for interfaith dialogue:
Peter T. Richardson, Four Spiritualities: Expressions of Self, Expressions of Spirit. A Psychology of Contemporary Spiritual Choice. Palo Alto: Davies-Black Publishing. 1996. paperback. $18.95 ISBN 0-89106-083-9 and Growing Your Spirituality. A Workshop and Seminar Guide for Four Spiritualities, 2001. $12.00.
“The Boston Religion”: Unitarianism In Its Capitol City. hardbound, 264 pages, 139 illustrations, index, 29.95, available June 15. ISBN 0-9741152-0-7 Library of Congress Control Number: 2003093255
The Red Barn - Home of Red Barn Publishing in Rockland, Maine and of author, Peter Tufts Richardson
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