Parish Co-Minister Wayne Arnason

The Rev. Dr. Wayne Arnason has had a thirty-nine year career of service as a minister in all sizes of Unitarian Universalist congregations and on the UUA staff. He has shared the parish co-ministry with his wife the Rev. Kathleen Rolenz at the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, since 2000. Previously, Rev. Arnason served in a long-term parish ministry at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church in Charlottesville, Virginia beginning in 1984. He is the author or editor of three books and five curricula published by the Unitarian Unversalist Association.

As a worship leader, Reverend Arnason was influenced by involvement early in his career with the Congregation of Abraxas, a small but influential ordered community of UU's interested in creating worship for personal use and for retreat settings in a monastic format. The sabbatical that he took with Rev. Kathleen Rolenz in 2005-06, was focused on the present state and the future of worship in the UUA. The product of that sabbatical, a book called "Worship That Works" was published by Skinner House books in October 2007 (and is available on-line from the UUA Bookstore and in our church book store) .

Wayne Arnason devotes significant volunteer time to the denominational service. From 2008-2015 he served as the Chair of the UUA's Ministerial Fellowship Committee, charged with credentialing new ministers and preserving the integrity of the UU ministry through monitoring ministerial ethics. He previously served four years as the UUA Board's representative on the Ministerial Fellowship Committee from 2001-2005. Rev. Arnason is also currently a member of the UUA's Presidential Search Committee. Rev. Arnason was an at-large member of the UUA Board from 1996-2005, serving on the Finance Committee, the Anti-Racism Monitoring Team, and the MFC. He was Secretary of the Association from 2001-2005, responsible for UUA elections and congregational certification.

Rev. Arnason has also  served the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association on their Executive Board for two terms, from 1985-87 and 1992-95, when he was President of the UUMA . He chaired the UUMA Guidelines Revision Committee working on revising the ethical code for UU ministry from 2005-2007.

In Northeast Ohio, Reverend Arnason has served on the Board and as co-chair of the Clergy Caucus of the Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope (NOAH), the interfaith community organizing coalition affiliated with the Gamaliel network. He currently serves on the Strategy Team of Greater Cleveland Congregations, an IAF-affiliated faith based organizing coalition.

Earlier in his career, from 1980-1984, Reverend Arnason served as the UUA's Youth Program Director and is credited with the leadership initiatives that resulted in the creation of Young Religious Unitarian Universalists, our UUA youth organization. He is the author of a history of the UU youth movements, recently published in a new 2004 edition under the title "We Would Be One" by Skinner House books.

Rev. Arnason is well known throughout the Unitarian Universalist Association as an educator. He is the author or co-author of five UUA curricula for both youth and adults, including: "Life Issues for Teenagers,"(1983) "On the Path" (a curriculum on spiritual practice- 1985)) and "Faithful Choices" (a curriculum on bioethics choices in family life-1995). In 1990, Wayne Arnason was named a recipient of the UUA’a annual Angus MacLean Award for achievement in religious education.

In his early career years, Wayne Arnason served as a parish minister for congregations in Hayward (1976-80) and San Francisco, CA (Interim Assistant – 1976). He is a 1976 graduate of the Harvard Divinity School. During his time in California, he also had a strong relationship with Starr King School for the Ministry. He served on the Board of Trustees of Starr King School from 2006-2008. In 2014, Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago honored with an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree.

Reverend Arnason is a 1972 graduate of the University of Toronto. A major areas of continuing education for him in his mid-career was clinical ethics . In 1990, he was named a Fellow at the Center for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center during a period of sabbatical leave. In 1991, his article on “Affirmative Action in Kidney Allocation” was published in the Hastings Center Report. From 1994 until coming to Cleveland, he served as a community representative on the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center's Ethics Committee.

Wayne Arnason’s personal spiritual practice is rooted in Zen Buddhism. He was a student of the late John Daido Loori, Roshi, the Abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, NY. He is currently a student of James Ford, Roshi of the Boundless Way Zen Community, and is practice leader of an affiliated sitting group of the Boundless Way Zen Community, the River Rocks Sangha, that meets at West Shore. Wayne serves on the Board and was formerly the President of the UU Buddhist Fellowship. In 2013, he edited a Skinner House books collection of essays called "UU Bddhist Voices".

Reverend Arnason is a fourth generation Unitarian Universalist from the Icelandic Canadian Unitarian tradition. He grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba and retains his Canadian citizenship. He is married to the Reverend Kathleen Rolenz and has one child and two adopted children from a previous marriage.