The Reverend Dr. Susan Veronica Rak has been a Unitarian Universalist since the early 70's and Unitarian Universalist Minister since 1996. She was born and raised in New Jersey and after living in several different states, had been happy to return to her roots, living in the state since 2005. She attended Glassboro State College (now Rowan University), studying art with an eye toward later focusing on art history. After college, she worked for a then-major investment firm (Bache and Company) and American Telephone and Telegraph in “operations liaison” work, providing customer service to brokers and individual stock and bond holders. Later, while living in Vermont she worked at a small printing company, learning about a whole other field of work and developing skills in graphic design.
In 1981 she began working as a Director of Religious Education at the First Unitarian Society of Albany NY, where she began professional training in the Unitarian Universalist Association’s newly developed “Renaissance” program. She served on the UUA R.E. Futures committee and the Saint Lawrence District Religious Education Committee. Toward the end of her time in Albany, she entered the UUA’s Independent Study Program in preparation for the Ministry of Religious Education.
After relocating with her family to Delaware, Rev. Dr. Rak continued work as a religious educator at the UU Fellowship of Newark DE and then the Unitarian Universalist Church in Cherry Hill NJ, continuing her involvement in District R.E. activities. She enrolled in Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster PA, joining several other UU’s completing Masters of Divinity degrees there. She also pursued studies in ministry thorough Meadville-Lombard Theological School’s “modified residency program”. Her “call” to ministry turned in its focus from religious education to the preaching ministry of the parish. She completed her internship at Cherry Hill, graduated from Lancaster Theological and was ordained to the parish ministry by that congregation in May 1996. And then later she continued her professional development and pursued a Doctor of Ministry degree at Meadville-Lombard Theological School, Her doctoral project explored the theological tensions that exist with our Unitarian Universalist congregations and the presented thesis is entitled “What’s God Got to Do with It?Living and Loving the Tension of Unitarian Universalist Theological Pluralism”. She was awarded the degree of Doctor of Ministry in May 2009..
After ordination, her ministerial experience includes serving the Community Church of New York as Interim Associate Minister (1996-97); the UU Fellowship of Lower Bucks (Levittown PA, 1997-98); the Unitarian Universalist Association (as Program Consultant for the Joseph Priestley District, 1997-2001); the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Bridgeport (Stratford CT, 2001-03); Unitarian Universalist Church of Flushing, NY (2003-05). She served The Unitarian Society, a Unitarian Universalist congregation in East Brunswick NJ, from 2005 - 2014. After "retiring" from there, Rev. Susan went on to serve two congregations as Interim Minister: First Unitarian Universalist Church in Philadelphia PA (2014-16) and BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (2016-18). Both congregations are thriving with successful settled ministries!
Now fully retired from active UU ministry, Rev. Susan occasionally preaches for congregations near and far - thanks to Zoom! And officiates rites of passages as often as asked (see that section for more information). In addition, she is currently the President of the Board of the Unitarian Universalist Retired Ministers and Partners Association (uurmapa.org).
Rev. Susan has two grown children. Her daughter Abigail lives in Brooklyn and is a content design specialist, employed by Meta. And son Seth is a sculptor and art director, living in southern California. She and her spouse, Dr. Mary Chinery (Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Georgian Court University in Lakewood, NJ) share their home in Asbury Park NJ with two cats and a lot of books! Theyhave been together for 26 years and after celebrating their civil union in 2008, were married in 2019.
Beyond ministry, Rev. Susan loves music - a very wide variety from ancient to contemporary classical, jazz, "world" music, and some good old rock'n'roll. She also is an fan of films (from grand, sweeping epics to independent and foreign films to science fiction movies) and stage productions, on and off Broadway. Her interest in fine art (especially painting, prints and photography) has remained a constant throughout her life. Taking in exhibitions at various museums in the NY metro and whatever city or country she visits is an important source of inspiration and soothes the soul! When they can, she and Mary love to travel. (pictured here in Monet's gardens at Giverny, France).