Rev. Dr. Aaron Maurice Saari

 
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I am always ready to eat.

Taken moments after hearing, “Congratulations, Dr. Saari,” for the first time.

Taken moments after hearing, “Congratulations, Dr. Saari,” for the first time.

Education

  • Doctor of ministry
    United Theological Seminary

    Cohort: Enacting Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Beloved Community

    Dissertation: Town, Gown, and ecclesia: Building Beloved Community across spiritual and religious divides through shared experiences

  • master of divinity
    united theological seminary

  • Master of Arts, English
    Xavier university

  • Master of Arts, theology
    xavier university

  • bachelor of arts, humanities
    Antioch university

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It cannot be denied that too often the weight of the Christian movement has been on the side of the strong and the powerful and against the weak and oppressed—this, despite the gospel.
— Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited

AN UNLIKELY STORY

I was not raised in the church. in fact, i was at times openly hostile to religion, particularly christianity, based on what i saw and experienced growing up. my hometown was surrounded by fundamentalist churches that sent “missionaries” to save the heathen hippies. however, from a young age i was fascinated by jesus, which led to me studying religion in college.

it was only after the voluntary death of my brother, who had schizophrenia, that i finally understood god’s presence and power. it was my paul on the damascus road experience. however, i did not necessarily welcome god with open arms. both of my parents are highly educated and until my brother’s death, my primary way of relating to the world around me was intellectual. the process of coming to and accepting faith was gradual…and painful. i certainly lived into luther’s description of bold sinning, even when i was feeling the depths of god’s grace.

i am openly bisexual. i have bipolar disorder. i am a recovering drug abuser and alcoholic. these are things about me, but not what define me. i am, above all things, as are you, a child of god. i’m honest about my challenges and my walk.

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i am a follower of jesus. i fall short. i miss the mark. my nickname is pastor pottymouth. from the time i was a child, i have been unable to shut up in the face of injustice. on paper, i am not what one would expect in an ordained minister. i have the dubious distinction of being an expert on the historical judas, having published my first master’s thesis, The Many deaths of judas iscariot: A Meditation on Suicide. i entered christianity through the side door. i realize that i could be horribly wrong about what i believe, so i try to be certain that what i do is based in compassion and basic decency.


with that said, i believe deeply in the gospel of jesus christ, a gospel that propels us into the world and into relationships. a gospel that pushes us past our comfort zones and requires us to center those who are othered by society and religion. it means allow ourselves to be centered. as a white man, i am aware of the myriad privilege i have and i know that jesus expects me to use it until i don’t have it anymore, which will come either through the realization of worldwide beloved community or until god calls me home.

my ministry focuses in the past have included muslim-christian relations; suicide prevention and suicide survivor support; advocating for trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming rights; immigrant and refugee issues; food insecurity; and mental health awareness. i am in recovery myself, so sobriety is an ongoing focus, both personally and as a member of beloved community.

being at washington ucc is an answer to prayer. the work of the community has immediate and long-lasting impacts upon camp washington and the lives of the people who come to the church. my hope is that the spiritual community can develop and grow by deliberating holding space for those who may not have another place, where those who have been kicked out or rejected by other churches can come and live with their questions, with their anger, with their faith, and feel affirmed. seen. heard, valued. loved.

whether wucc proves to be your next spiritual home, a way station as you pass through, or a place you come and volunteer, know that you will be loved and respected here. the gospel demands no less.

 
 
Witnessing resurrection.

Witnessing resurrection.