The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Central Nassau is a community of religious persons whose beliefs and ethics are freely chosen and constantly evolve throughout their journey through life. While Unitarian Universalists seek the guidance and inspiration of the great pioneers of religious insight of many cultures, their final religious authority is their own reason and personal understanding. We love people and are inclusive. We are proud to be a Welcoming Congregation. We strive to widen our circle of inclusivity so that we can extend a heartfelt and warm welcome to friends, and visitors.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Central Nassau began its life with the merger of two local congregations, one Unitarian, the other Universalist, not long after the national merger of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America. Each group brought differing, valued gifts to the new partnership. The Universalist Church of Floral Park, founded in 1930, brought with its members a long record of stability and experience in the art of churching. The younger Unitarian Fellowship of Garden City was able to offer the dynamism and enthusiasm associated with a new religious venture. It was decided that the blending of these two congenial yet disparate groups warranted a new meeting place. The Universalist building was sold to another congregation. The Unitarians had no building originally, having met in people’s homes.
In 1961, the first meeting of the newly formed UUCCN was held in the fall of 1961 in the chapel on the Mitchel Field Air Base. Reverend Kenneth Smith, minister of the Floral Park Universalist Church, agreed to serve the new church for a one-year period. 1962-1967 Reverend Farley Wheelwright was called by the merged group to be their first minister. During this period the Garden City property was purchased and the present building erected and dedicated in 1965.
Rev. Petra Thombs, our minister at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Central Nassau, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the youngest child of John (Trinidadian) and Lillian (African American and Cherokee heritage) Vilabrera. Both were active in community and civic improvement; the family worked diligently to support electing Shirley Chisholm to Congress. In her youth, Rev. Petra was active in her Catholic parish of St. Ignatius.
Her undergraduate degree is from Fordham University, and her master’s degrees are from Teacher’s College, Columbia University in Special Education; Bank Street College of Education in Supervision and Administration; and Union Theological Seminary, where she received her Master’s of Divinity. She retired from her 32-year career in the NYC Department of Education before attending seminary. Most recently she served as the Executive Director of the Ramapough Lenape Community Center and continue there as an Educational Consultant.
Rev. Petra turned to Unitarian Universalism in 2002, and became a member of Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains, New York. As Chairperson of In the Spirit of Truth, addressing racial justice issues, she brought the annual Kwanzaa celebration to central White Plains for accessibility to the African American community and worked to create a collaboration of community stakeholders as partners, resulting in a flourishing event for 14 years. In 2005 she introduced Juneteenth services to the congregation in an annual summer service. Rev. Petra has participated in Beloved Conversations and supported the 8th Principle, which calls for us to work actively to build a Beloved Community, accepting multiculturalism and ending white supremacy in ourselves and our institutions. Ordained by her home congregation in May 2021, she continues to focuses on informing communities about the Doctrine of Discovery, advocating for Indigenous rights and healing Mother Earth.
She enjoys writing poetry and creating arts and crafts. Rev. Petra and her husband Bernie have been married for 41 years and reside in Valhalla, NY. Their sons are Benjamin and Matthew, they have a grandson named Finn and a cat named Esteban.
WE BELIEVE IN:
The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.