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Unitarian Universalists in the media

A frequently updated guide to stories about Unitarian Universalists from other sources around the web.

Supporting women’s health in New Orleans, and other UUs in the media

New Orleans church supports women’s clinic

Despite harassment from pro-life protesters during a worship service earlier this year, members of First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans, La., are providing religious support for the construction of a much-needed Planned Parenthood clinic in that city. (Cosmopolitan - 1.23.15)

More stories of UUs working for reproductive justice:

“Reverend Nathan Ryan speaks during protests against The Response: Louisiana” (The Daily Reveille - 1.24.15)

Roe v. Wade marked with call to action” (The Courier-Journal - 1.26.15)

UU clergy say religious freedom bills are discriminatory

The Rev. David Messner of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah, Ga., joins other clergy who are voicing opposition to a recent “Religious Freedom Bill” because it would open the door to discrimination against minorities in the workplace or in being refused services. (wsav.com - 1.23.15)

The Rev. Duncan Teague sees recent religious freedom legislation as just an attempt by people who do not like the increasing rights that same-sex couples are achieving nationwide to slow its progress in Georgia. (GA Voice  – 1.22.15)

Sustainable renovations, cranes for Ebola victims, and the morality of drones

Living out the Seventh UU Principle and investing in the future of their congregation, the Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Neb., recently completed a $2.5 million renovation to its building that will help reduce the congregation’s carbon footprint and offer a more comfortable space in which to worship. (Lincoln Journal Star - 1.23.15)

To honor the Sixth UU Principle and share a sense of hope with the recipients, the youth group at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango, Colo.. folded 1,000 origami paper cranes and shipped them to Sierra Leone, the African nation that has been hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak. (Durango Herald - 1.23.15)

The Rev. Chris J. Antal of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Rock Tavern, N.Y., participated in the first Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare, in part because his experience as a military chaplain showed him the moral pain that soldiers experience from harming civilians with drone strikes. (Philadelphia Inquirer - 1.25.15)

Retired ministers remember Selma, and other UUs in the media

The Rev. Clark Olsen of Asheville, N.C., recalls in vivid detail the fateful evening when, as he walked with clergy colleagues near Walker’s Café in Selma, Ala., they were attacked and the Rev. James Reeb was mortally wounded. (Asheville Citizen-Times - 1.17.15)

Acknowledging his privileged position, retired minister the Rev. Gordon Gibson says he was glad to be of use to his denomination during the civil rights movement in 1965. He traveled to Selma to support voting rights then and observed that new voting requirements in some Southern states are returning to those old ways. (wate.com - 1.19.15)

UU honored at MLK celebration, clergy witness for racial justice

The Rev. Roger Bertschausen of Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Appleton, Wisc., was given a legacy award at the town’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, an event he helped found 25 years ago. (post-crescent.com - 1.18.15)

See also: “MLK celebration’s message resonates” (postcrescent.com - 1.21.15)

Unitarian Universalist ministers joined others in the Washington, D.C., area to stage a “die-in” demonstration during lunchtime in the cafeteria of the U.S. House of Representatives. They hoped to bring legislators’ attention to underlying issues of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. (Huffington Post - 1.21.15)

Other stories about the die-in include:

“‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters stage ‘die-in’ in Capitol Hill cafeteria” (The Washington Post - 1.21.15)

“Clergy Stage a Die-in at Congressional Cafeteria for Black Lives Matter” (ColorLines - 1.21.14)

Congregation protects immigrant seeking stay of deportation

First Unitarian Church of Denver, Colo., is one of six faith communities in that state that have come together to provide sanctuary for undocumented immigrants facing deportation. Arturo Hernandez Garcia has been living in the basement of the congregation since October 2014 as he fights deportation proceedings. (Newsweek - 1.21.15)

Other Denver sanctuary stories include:

“Battle Over Deportation as Republicans Try to Roll Back Obama Immigration Policies” (The New York Times - 1.16.15)

“Immigration vote sends chilling message to those facing deportation” (The Denver Post - 1.15.15)

Unitarian Universalism in Selma film, and other UUs in the media

Unitarian Universalism in the film Selma

The depiction of the death of UU minister the Rev. James Reeb in the newly released film Selma is included among the many inaccuracies a reviewer from Selma, Alabama, notes. Reeb did not die immediately after being attacked outside of a diner, as the film depicts. (Selma Times-Journal - 1.14.15)

Other stories about the film include:

“Selma official: ‘The movie Selma is a combination of historical inaccuracies,’” (al.com - 1.13.15)

“Selma evokes Casper memories” (Casper Journal - 1.12.14)

“50 years later, Selma still strikes a chord” (The Blade - 1.10.15)

Unitarian Universalist Association becomes landlord

The Unitarian Universalist Association officially became owner of its new headquarters building at 24 Farnsworth Street in Boston. The Association paid $25.5 million for the six-story brick building, purchased from the Davis Cos., a real estate investment company. (The Boston Globe - 1.14.15)

More coverage of the sale:

“Unitarians close on $25M purchase of Seaport District headquarters” (Boston Business Journal - 1.12.15)

The faces of Florida marriage equality

Many couples have waited decades to have their relationships recognized in their home state. The Rev. Kathy Schmitz of First Unitarian Church in Orlando, Fla., felt a celebration was necessary for the thirteen couples married at the church last Saturday. (Orlando Sentinel - 1.10.15)

Nearly twenty Unitarian Universalist religious professionals joined clergy and other people of faith in a letter to the Georgia legislature opposing recent so-called religious freedom legislation. They see these bills as overreaching the bounds of religious freedom by using it to harm or exclude some individuals or groups. (GA Voice - 1.13.15)

Finding meaning and community without God

The father of two young children finds a religion worth considering in his local Unitarian Universalist church. While he and his wife aren’t necessarily religious, Calvin Hennick was initially drawn in by the Rev. Hank Pierce’s Twitter feed and assurances that he did not need a belief in God for his family to be welcome at First Parish in Milton, Mass. (Yahoo Parenting - 1.12.15)

Supporting clean water in West Virginia, and other UUs in the media

One year after a chemical spill in the Elk River created a water crisis in West Virginia, members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charleston, W. Va., have distributed more than $21,000 to local organizations that work to support clean water. The congregation raised $24,000 from donors nationwide. (The Charleston Gazette 1.3.15)

See also “West Virginia chemical spill reaches one-year anniversary” (The Register-Herald 1.9.15) and “One Year Later: Events Held to Remember Elk River Chemical Spill” (West Virginia Public Broadcasting 1.8.15).

Sexuality, marriage equality, and gender justice

The Rev. Meg Riley, minister of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, talks about her concerns about the safety of her gender-nonconforming child when using public facilities like restrooms and how this spurred her to raise funds to make a restroom at her child’s school welcoming to all genders. (The Seattle Times 1.4.15)

The Rev. Dee Graham, minister of Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Bradenton, Fla., was on hand at City Hall to offer religious wedding services to any same-sex couple who wished to have one now that marriage equality has come to Florida. (mysuncoast.com 1.4.15)

An article about sexuality among senior citizens quotes Melanie Davis, a UUA program associate for the Our Whole Lives sexuality education curricula, on the difficulties of maintaining sexually healthy relationships in one’s later years. The story notes that a new OWL curriculum for senior citizens is in development. (RHRealityCheck.org 12.17.14)

The Rev. Debra Haffner, a Unitarian Universalist minister, and Marie Alford-Harkey, both of the Religious Institute, are featured in The Advocate’s list of “The Religious People Who Give Us Hope for Religion” for their work on lifting up the role of bisexual people in religious communities. (The Advocate 12.24.14)

Congregation expresses grief over victims of police violence

Members of the Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware braved cold weather to hold a public healing circle and peaceful march in solidarity with people in Ferguson, Mo., Staten Island, N.Y., and Cleveland, Ohio, and express their hope for an end to racism. (CapeGazette.com 1.4.15)

UUA headquarters purchase completed; branding was fun

The UUA completed the purchase of its 24 Farnsworth Street headquarters building, where it has been leasing three floors, on January 9. The UUA purchased the six-story building for $25.5 million. (Boston Business Journal 1.12.15)

The head of branding agency Quicksilver Foundry, Will Novy-Hildesley, discusses the pleasure he got from his work with fifty Unitarian Universalists and UUA staff in the early stages of their rebranding efforts and how this led to the memorable slogan: “Wanted: Brave Souls.” (Portland Monthly 1.5.15)

Justice march draws thousands, and other UUs in the media

D.C.-area UUs join giant ‘Justice for All’ march

Washington, D.C.-area Unitarian Universalists joined thousands of people in a ‘Justice for All’ march organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. The UUs carried a large Standing on the Side of Love banner and told reporters that they were at the rally, in part, to say that killing minority teenagers has to stop. (The Washington Post - 12.13.14)

Another ‘Justice for All’ march story:

“Marc Morial: Michael Brown, Eric Garner protesters want accountability” (Face the Nation - 12.14.14)

UUs demonstrate for racial justice 

In a show a solidarity, local police in Arlington, Mass., brought demonstrators at a Black Lives Matter event outside First Parish Unitarian Universalist in Arlington coffee and muffins as they gathered for their peaceful rally. (The Arlington Advocate - 12.15.14)

The Rev. Kathleen Rolenz, a minister at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, joined members of her congregation to protest the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. (Cleveland.com - 12.12.14)

Minister killed in Selma portrayed in upcoming film

A recent screening of the new film Selma triggered memories for one reporter of the first time she wrote about Unitarian Universalist minister the Rev. James Reeb’s tragic death in March 1965, when she was a reporter for her college paper. (Boston Herald - 12.12.14)

An early review of the film Selma takes issue with the way the filmmakers chose to gloss over the negative depictions of whites, including residents of Selma, Ala., who violently attacked the Rev. James Reeb (misidentified in the article as a priest) after he left a local restaurant with fellow clergy. (The Boston Globe - 12.18.14)

Boxing helps minister ‘recalibrate’

The Rev. Ann Schranz, minister of the Monte Vista Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Montclair, Cal., finds spiritual meaning and growth in boxing because it helps her reframe pain and let go of an attachment to outcomes. (LA Times - 12.17.14)

NGO reports on thefts by U.S. border patrol

A recent report released by the humanitarian organization No More Deaths, a ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, Ariz., highlights the common occurrence of undocumented migrants losing their money or belongings during deportation due to negligence or outright theft by U.S. authorities. (PanAm Post - 12.15.14)

More holidays, UU style

In addition to lighting a menorah to acknowledge Jewish holiday traditions, and setting up a nativity scene for Christian traditions, members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Farmington in Farmington Hills, Mich., will perform a solstice ritual. (hometownlife.com - 12.12.14)

As a way of reaching out beyond their congregation’s walls, members of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley Hills, Mass., undecorated a Christmas tree and collected more than 60 gifts for local homeless people. (The Wellesley Townsman - 12.17.14)

We will take the next two weeks off from posting UUs in the Media to take time to enjoy the winter holidays. We will be back in full swing in the new year.

Choosing church on Sunday, and other UUs in the media

Being spiritual and religious means going to church

A Unitarian Universalist parent describes why her family is bucking the broadening trend of religious people spending their Sundays doing other things besides going to church. For this mother, church is necessary to help her children develop a sense of spirituality. (The New York Times - 12.7.14)

Tim DeChristopher connects faith, activism

Environmental activist and Unitarian Universalist seminary student Tim DeChristopher talks about the vital role that spirituality plays in activism, especially in its power to connect people who have been alienated by the institutions they oppose. (truthout.org - 12.8.14)

UUs deeply involved in racial justice protests across country

The Rev. Cindy Pincus, intern minister at First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco, Calif., recounts the violent blow she says she received from a police offer while participating in a protest in Berkeley. (Huffington Post - 12.8.14)

Other stories of racial justice demonstrations:

“Ogden ‘peace march’ marks reaction to police shootings” (Standard Examiner - 12.7.14)

“Local protesters continue police-killings demonstrations” (The Philadelphia Tribune - 12.9.14)

Holidays, UU style

Members of the Common Ground Choir, affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff in Dallas, Tex., sing protest songs at various peaceful demonstrations. They joined others after Thanksgiving outside the local Walmart to support a Black Friday protest for better jobs. (Oak Cliff BubbleLife - 11.28.14)

Members of the lay-led San Juan Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Farmington, N.Mex., caught the attention of their local media when they introduced the Unitarian Universalist holiday tradition of Chalica in their congregation. (Daily Times - 12.7.14)

Minister led congregation through period of impressive growth

Although the members of Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Appleton, Wisc., will be sad to see the Rev. Roger Bertschausen go, they will remember the safe space he created for spiritual growth within the congregation. (Post-Crescent.com - 12.8.14)

Making space for prayer after Ferguson, and other UUs in the media

UUs participate in vigils across the country

Leaders of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, Md., opened their doors for community members to come together and express their emotions in response to the controversial decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo. (Capital Gazette - 11.25.14)

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Mankato, Minn., participated in a peaceful demonstration at a local holiday light display after the grand jury verdict in Ferguson. (keyc.com - 12.1.14)

Attendees at South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, lit candles in remembrance of Michael Brown of Ferguson as well as Darrien Hunt, a man from Saratoga Springs who was shot by police officers in September. (Deseret News - 11.26.14)

Minister sees churches as a place of racial healing

The Rev. Manish Mishra-Marzetti of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Cherry Hill, N.J., acknowledges that he did not initially understand the profound cultural significance of Michael Brown’s death, but now that he does, he hopes churches like his own can help promote cross-racial understanding. (Courier-Post - 11.29.14)

Fighting racism is a spiritual imperative

The Rev. Marisol Caballero feels a spiritual imperative drives her ministry at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, Tex. She hopes that in fighting racism through her work in her church, she can achieve her personal goal of helping to create a truly multicultural faith tradition in Unitarian Universalism. (LatinoUSA - 11.28.14)

Grieving the loss of a pet from a generational perspective

The Rev. Eliza Blanchard offers spiritual care for animal caregivers as a part of her Unitarian Universalist ministry. She explains that the increasing candor in mourning animals stems from the tendency of the Baby Boom generation to make their personal needs widely known in public. (The Boston Globe - 12.3.14)

Updates on the demise of two UU church buildings

The final pieces of the historic Murray Universalist Church in Attleboro, Mass., will soon be removed. The church originates from 1885, but the congregation, now called Murray Unitarian Universalist Church, resides in a building at a different location. (The Sun Chronicle - 12.5.14)

Members of Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church in Oak Ridge, Tenn., agreed to sell their church building to make way for a new Kroger shopping center and have since moved to a new building. Their former building is now being demolished as construction begins on the shopping center. (Oak Ridge Today - 11.23.14)

UUs celebrate marriage equality in three more states, and other UUs in the media

UUs celebrate expanded marriage equality

Officiating a same-sex wedding in Shawnee County, Kans., the Rev. Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka, felt it was a moment to celebrate and an opportunity to put pressure on other counties to issues licenses as well. (wibw.com - 11.17.14)

Unitarian Universalists in Spartanburg, S.C., held signs reading “Let us celebrate equal marriage with you!” as same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses outside the Spartanburg County Probate Court. (goupstate.com - 11.20.14)

The Rev. Nina Grey, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bozeman, Mont., viewed officiating the first same-sex wedding in the state at the Gallatin County Law and Justice Center as am important moment in our nation’s history. (Belgrade News - 11.21.14)

Controversy continues over Starr King investigation

An article in the New York Times examined the ongoing controversy surrounding withheld diplomas and an investigation into leaked documents at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif. (New York Times – 11.21.14)

The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, the new president of the school, responded to that article, and one by UU World, the following day. (sksm.edu – 11.22.14)

Plaintiff in landmark marriage-equality case remembers how it began

Unitarian Universalist Hillary Goodridge reflects on her experience as lead plaintiff in the landmark case legalizing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, and on changing the nation’s view of marriage as a civil right open to all. (International Business Times - 11.18.14)

Other marriage equality stories:

Topeka same-sex couple married in ceremony (The Topeka Capital-Journal 11.17.14)

First same-sex couple files for marriage license in Beaufort County (Savannah Morning News - 11.20.14)

Unitarian Universalist churches prepping for same-sex weddings (wyff4.com - 11.21.14)

Welcoming religious community helps college student discover himself

College junior Benjamin Spick describes how finding a supportive religious community in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ames, Iowa, helped him discover himself and engage in his campus and local community authentically. (Iowa State Daily - 11.17.14)

Chaplain services are part of new health care model in Tennessee

A Nashville-area healthcare company offers the services of a chaplain as part of its new model of accountable healthcare. The Rev. Cathy Chang, a Unitarian Universalist minister, helps patients work through important medical decisions based on individual beliefs. (The Tennessean - 11.18.14)

UU institutional investors seek justice in Bhopal gas tragedy

The Unitarian Universalist Common Endowment Fund is part of a group of institutional investors that are renewing their pressure on Dow Chemical to take responsibility for the tragic gas leak that killed thousands in Bhopal City, India, in 1984. (International Business Times - 11.19.14)

We will take next week off from posting UUs in the Media to take time to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. We hope you have a safe and restful holiday as well. 

UUs call to end gun violence, and other UUs in the media

Brother of gun-violence victim joins peace walk

A Peace Walk sponsored by the Columbia, S.C., Faith Coalition on Gun Violence brought together members of the interfaith community, law enforcement, and civil rights activists last week to call for peace in the community and the nation. Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia member Michael Sullivan, whose brother was a victim of gun violence nearly 40 years ago, was present at the walk. “I want to see some sanity happen in the world and in the United States so that we don’t have such a devastating amount of gun violence,” Sullivan said. (The State – 11.8.14)

Two incidents at Arkansas church prompt investigation

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Mountain Home, Ark., member Billy Rhodes recently received a disturbing piece of hate mail for his “liberal mindset” and opinions posted in a local paper’s letters to the editor section. A separate incident involving a church window being shot out with a BB gun was ruled by police to be unrelated. (Baxter Bulletin – 11.13.14)

Related story:

Arkansas church gets threatening note in response to marriage equality support (The Advocate – 11.13.14)

Jacksonville interfaith group pushes for a better city

A Jacksonville, Fla., nonprofit group, Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation & Empowerment (ICARE), recently held a meeting for over 40 area churches to review the work accomplished over the past year and to begin preparing plans for the future. Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville minister the Rev. Phillip Barber addressed the assembly, saying, “We are blessed to have an opportunity to create a more just city.” (Florida-Times Union – 11.12.14)

More news from congregations

As anticipation mounts over the grand jury announcement on whether to indict the police officer involved in the shooting death of Missouri teen Michael Brown, the African American Clergy Coalition of Mid-Missouri hosted a community prayer vigil in Columbia, Mo. “It’s important that the community of Columbia show support for Ferguson,” said vigil attendee and minister of the UU Church of Columbia the Rev. Molly Gordon. (Mid-Missouri Public Radio – 11.10.14)

The second annual Festival of Faith and Culture in Salem, N.C., brought more than 200 youth and adults together earlier this month to learn about a wide range of cultures and faith traditions, including Unitarian Universalism. (The Chronicle – 11.13.14)

In response to a federal appellate court ruling earlier this month, which upheld Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, the Harbor Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Muskegon hosted a gathering and discussion on action and next steps for the LGBTQ community and advocates. (mlive.com – 11.11.14)

More than 40 people gathered outside of the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Boston for a prayer vigil in solidarity with the 250 undocumented immigrants detained inside. “These are not criminals. These are people,” said acting Executive Director of UU Mass Action Laura Wagner. “We’re going to continue to work to change laws, so this will no longer happen.” (Daily Free Press – 11.10.14)

Civil disobedience leads to arrest for UU minister, and other UUs in the media

Faith leaders arrested for crossing police barricade 

The Rev. Deane Olivia, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Flint, Mich., was arrested with other faith leaders after crossing a police barricade in an act of non-confrontational civil disobedience. The protest, which saw over 50 arrests, took place in solidarity with the Ferguson, Mo., community, where unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was killed by police this past August. (mlive.com – 11.1.14)

South Carolina prepares to welcome same-sex marriage

With the U.S. Supreme Court declining to take up the 4th Circuit’s same-sex marriage decision, South Carolina is preparing to allow legal same-sex marriages. The Rev. Neal Jones of the UU Congregation of Columbia, S.C., and four other community and religious leaders voiced their views on the conversations taking place in their state. “If two people love each other, and want to commit their lives to each other, why would we want to deny any couple that? There’s nothing more American and wholesome than that,” Jones said. (The State – 11.1.14)

Same-sex marriage suffers setback in four states

A ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reversed district court rulings this week that had struck down same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. “It’s a sad day for Michigan,” said Margot Haynes, member of the Harbor UU Congregation Social Action Committee in Muskegon, Mich. (mlive.com – 11.6.14)

Related stories include:

Flint-area gay marriage advocates devastated after court upholds ban (mlive.com – 11.6.14)

Court’s upholding gay marriage ban is ‘crazy, disappointing,’ says pastor who conducted Muskegon marriages (mlive.com – 11.6.14)

Florida church sponsors self-help sobriety group 

The Big Bend Secular Organizations for Sobriety, a self-empowered recovery based approach to sobriety sponsored by the UU Church of Tallahassee, Fla., offers an alternative to self-help groups that emphasize dependence on a higher power to attain sobriety. (Tallahassee Democrat – 10.31.14)

New hopes for immigration reform

President Obama’s recent pledge for immigration reform by the end of the year has rekindled hope for immigrants facing deportation, including Arturo Hernandez Garcia, who took sanctuary within the walls of the First Unitarian Society of Denver, Colo., last month. With a record number of deportations taking place under the Obama administration, the president is expected to take action to defer deportations, grant work permits, and offer more business visas. (CBS Denver – 11.6.14)

Related story:

He lived in the U.S. for 15 years. Only church sanctuary saved him from deportation,” (Washington Post – 11.6.14)

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