September 2023 Member Spotlight – Natasha Barden

Natasha Barden came to the United States from Ukraine with her family in 1989 and settled in New York City.  She attended NYC public schools through high school and then went on to college in upstate New York eventually settling in Silver Spring with her former husband.  A coworker at GAO spoke glowingly of her Virginia UU church and how there was a time in each service to share joys and sorrows. This really appealed to Natasha so she searched the Internet for “Unitarian-Universalism” and “Silver Spring” and found us in 2007.  At her first service she was glad to find her neighbor Nicole Levesque in the congregation.  Natasha saw UUCSS as both kind and welcoming and about 9 months later signed the book.

Natasha’s own religious philosophy is one of lifelong discovery which is a particularly good fit for Unitarian-Universalism.  She likes that we are not exclusive.  Everyone, regardless of religious beliefs, can participate.  Raised in a secular Jewish household, she found our Seder to be the most meaningful in her experience.  She also appreciates UUCSS as a place to raise her children.  Both Ezra and Zhenya love coming to UUCSS.

Natasha was a YRUU advisor with David Uffelman the year before her son Ezra arrived.  She found our youth to be passionate and insightful and still keeps up with them on Facebook.  She particularly enjoyed working on the Passover Seder, on the RE committee, and as a substitute religious education teacher.  In addition to the Seder there are other yearly events that she finds meaningful – Catoctin, the Fellowship Dinner, Water Communion, the YRUU service, the Coming of Age service, and particularly the Flower Communion.  In her spare time, she bakes, gardens, reads, takes Ukrainian language lessons, and enjoys going places with her children.  Natasha sees UUCSS as a source of kindness and support and loves the way we have embraced her family.