sermon topics

Rev. Dr. Rayne is a member of the UU Society of Community Ministries and is a “circuit rider” for UU congregations seeking pulpit supply in the tradition of Rev. Quillen Shinn.

With his Pentecostal/Southern Baptist roots, Calen has developed a presentation that some have referred to as “Evangelical UU.” Worship services speak to our UU Principles and topics suggested by the host congregation. Calen presents interactive worship services in diverse topics, including his legendary “Old Time Buddhist Gospel Hour,” for Unitarian Universalist congregations of all sizes, weaving teachings from ancient teachings with common sense answers and approaches to some of the more profound questions raised by our rapidly changing society.

Worship service themes Calen has worked with include:

Water communion  |  Hiroshima observance  |  Labor Day  |  Samhain  |  Thanksgiving  |  Christmas  |  New Year’s Day  |  Kwanzaa  |  Easter  |  Mother’s Day  |  Father’s Day  |  Memorial Day  |  Flower Communion

recent topics

“Circle of Life, a Bon/Buddhist Perspective”…

A discussion of mandalas and their significance from the Bon and Buddhist traditions.


​”Oh Mother, Where Art Thou”…

A Mother’s Day service weaving wisdom teachings on the feminine face of the Divine with words of women of country music.


​”The Empty Chair”…

A service for Memorial Day making it possible for congregants to bring the name of loved ones and historical figures into the worship space.


​ “The Music of What Happens”…

A variation on our UU Flower Communion service with elements of a memorial service.


“The Sophia Shall Rise Again”…

A message about our emerging wisdom culture in light of the work of Dr. Paul Ray and Biblical teachings on wisdom, including her proclamation in Proverbs 8:22, “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works.”


“A Community of Ministers”… 

We explore the concept of a community of ministers, a congregation where each person assumes a responsibility to minister to each other and our global community.

“Dance of the Rivers”…

Buddhist teachings on compassion combined with a reflection on our UU water service. As one congregant in Tennessee once remarked, “this is not your Daddy’s Buddhism.”


“Geometry of Reverence”…

Reflection on sacred geometry, the Druids and the need for all faith traditions to embrace the concept of reverence for each other.


“Gospel According to John the Buddhist”…

In the beginning was the word, which transformed into both sound and light and compassion.


“Morning with the Mystics”…

Reflection on wisdom and compassion from the viewpoint of our great mystics.

“Road to Jerusalem: Jesus and the Labyrinth”…

A service presented for Easter on the labyrinth (referred to as a Road to Jerusalem) and a resurrection of spirit. An 18 foot Chartres replica labyrinth is set up to walk before and after the service.


“Reinvention of Work as Prayer”…

We look at work in light of our spiritual journeys. How can we turn what we do to earn a living, our “work,” into a “prayer?” How can we best contribute to the “Great Work,” that of building a more compassionate world?


The Reverend Doctor Calen Rayne has presented worship services in Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Florida and Virginia. Comments from some host churches are shared here.

Newly weds

“Well, it’s been a month since our wedding, and we are both still glowing from the wonder and beauty of that day.” We are so grateful to you for all the time and care you put into our ceremony—we continue to hear from guests telling us it was one of the most touching and heartfelt ceremonies they have witnessed. We quite agree!”

UU Fellowship of New Bern, NC

"Thank you so much for your wonderful work. I don't think I've ever both laughed and cried in one service. It truly struck a chord with everyone I spoke with afterwards. Thanks again for adding so much energy to our congregation!!"

UU Church Of Spartanburg, SC

“This note is simply to express our heartfelt appreciation for your wonderful sermon. As you expected, your message was received by many ears with different viewpoints. That was what we were both hoping to achieve. The many positive comments and phone calls to our worship committee chair indicate a need fulfilled. We thank you for this contribution to our growth. You made us proud to be a part of the Unitarian-Universalist family.”

Newly weds

“This will simply say thank you so very much for all you have done to make our wedding the spectacular and memorable event it was. Your generous contributions of your time and talents made the occasion a beautiful experience for all. Your presence meant a lot to us.”

UU Congregation of Hillsborough, NC

 "Thank you for your interesting, inspiring service today. For those of us who are already involved in one, or more, of the ancient religions, it was delightful to hear your references to so many traditions. For those less knowledgeable, it was an opportunity to learn about the many opportunities in the universe. I've heard that several did request more information at the "Celebrate the Circle" Samhain Ritual. And much of what you said tied in directly with the Day of the Dead celebration I attended. All in all, it has been a sacred spiritual day. We are grateful that you and your lovely wife shared this morning with us."

UU Fellowship of Wilmington, NC

"Thank you so much for your many contributions to our congregation. We have had many positive comments about the activities on Saturday [Wisdom Tabernacle], as well as the Sunday service. One woman told me that the Saturday events were close to a life-changing experience for her. One of the goals for our Sunday services is that they stimulate us to think about how we are living our lives, and what strengths we have to be more fully engaged in our process of this life journey. Your service clearly met that goal. Jini and Calen, you are both a delight, you have enriched our lives." 

Richard Venus, Minister | First Universalist Church of New Madison, Ohio

"The reports are coming and they all say that your introduction to Buddhism was a most helpful and delightful service. Thank you so very much for bringing to us this vital part of the religious tradition we draw upon for our spiritual guidance." 

Miriam Levering, Ph.D. 
| Professor of Buddhist Studies, University of Tennessee

"Calen understands Buddhism with mind and heart, and communicates well with Unitarian Universalists. Free of any kind of orthodoxy or pedantry, he liberally uses poetry, imagination and humor to get profound points across. The two services he created for our Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee were filled with visuals, zingers and truths you could take home. He delighted our congregation and opened up Buddhist truths to them in an authentic way."

Charles J. Stephens, Minister
 | UU Church at Washington’s Crossing, NJ

"Calen has the wonderful ability to bring ancient Buddhist wisdom into focus for contemporary westerners in an uncomplicated way. I have seen him present his insights beautifully through a combination of Contemplative Brush and haiku poetry. Calen’s passion for the insights he has gained from Eastern art forms and philosophy is clearly expressed in his presentations."

Joan Kahn-Schneider, Minister | UU Church of Savannah, GA

"Calen has a gift for integrating his vast Buddhist knowledge and experience into the seven principles in a way that is entertaining, informative, spiritual and highly accessible to the western mind as well as making this ancient practice relevant to the modern world."

Marcel P. Duhamel, Minister | Second Congregational Society, Unitarian Universalist, Concord, NH

"I met Calen Rayne when I arrived as a settled minister in Concord, New Hampshire and was delighted to discover that he practices an eclectic form of American Buddhism strikingly similar to my own practice. Calen is quintessentially American and he integrates his delightful wit and innate wisdom in his exploration of the ancient dharma. Calen’s approach to Buddhism is unconventional and non-traditional borrowing from the best of several traditions including but not limited to Japanese Zen, Burmese Theravada and Tibetan Vajrayana. Calen shares my belief that Buddhism must become “Americanized” if it is to become widely relevant to American spiritual practice and exploration." 

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