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Unitarian Universalists in the media

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

Church targeted in arson, and other UUs in the media

Church targeted in arson

The First UU Church of San Diego, Calif., was targeted in a case of arson. The fire broke out in and around a shed on the property and spread to playground equipment and a storage room but was put out before it could damage the inside of the main building. (CBS8.com – 1.6.13)

Standing on the Side of Love on “Biggest Loser”

The Standing on the Side of Love campaign made a brief appearance on the season premiere of reality TV show “The Biggest Loser.” The opening montage on contestant Jackson Carter featured him standing in from of an SSL banner. He also spoke about how he was bullied for being gay, which contributed to his weight problem. The banner can be seen at the 12:12 mark in the video. (NBC.com – 1.6.13)

Two arrested after church break-in, and more

Two men were arrested for breaking into the UU Church of Owensboro, Ky. Upon apprehension, police discovered that the phone of one of the suspects contained sexually explicit photos of apparent minors. (SurfKY News – 1.9.13)

The First UU Church of Youngstown, Ohio, is having its damaged steeple removed. The congregation is exploring its options, which range from restoring the steeple to replacing it with solar panels or wind turbines. (Youngstown Vindicator – 1.10.13)

The Davies Memorial UU Church in Camp Springs, Md., was featured in a news broadcast covering the passing of same-sex marriage laws in Maryland. (NBC Channel 4/Youtube – 1.1.13)

Andy Reese, ministry associate at the UU Church of Augusta, Maine, is quoted in an article about the area’s largest interfaith event, “Keeping the Dream Alive: Why Dr. King Still Matters.” (The Augusta Chronicle – 1.11.13)

The Oak Ridge UU Church in Oak Ridge, Tenn., is considering buying land at the east end of town after agreeing to sell their current church so that the town can make a new shopping center. (Oak Ridger – 1.9.13, WBIR-TV – 10.1.12)

Minister earns activist award, and other UUs in the media

Michigan minister earns social justice award

The Rev. Bill Freeman, minister of Holland’s Interfaith Congregation and Harbor UU Church in Muskegon, Mich., will receive Holland’s Social Justice Award in the area of government and community relations. Freeman, who was jailed in 2011 for trespassing at City Hall during a protest for gay-rights, said he was honored, but “would gladly trade the award for the City Council to support gay rights.” (Grand Rapids Press – 12.31.12, 10.19.11)

Milestone marriages

Thanks to Washington State’s new same-sex marriage legislation, the Rev. Laura Shennum of the Cascade UU Fellowship in East Wenatchee was able to perform a wedding for two women who have been together 20 years, and grant them the same legal privileges as a married heterosexual couple. (The Wenatchee World – 12.29.12)

On Saturday, the Rev. Todd Eklof, minister of the UU Church of Spokane, Wash., performed his first marriage ceremony in almost a decade. In 2004, while a part-time minister at a church in Louisville, Ky., he announced that he wouldn’t perform marriages until same-sex couples could wed. (Salon – 12.27.12)

A sermon on violence, celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation, and more

The Hopedale Unitarian Parish in Hopedale, Mass., had a sermon on guns and violence in American society at a joint service with the First UU Church of Milford and the Unitarian Congregation of Mendon and Uxbridge. (Milford Daily News – 12.29.12)

On New Year’s Day, the Murray UU Church in Attleboro, Mass., heeded the call of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Committee of Greater Attleboro to participate in publicly marking the 150th anniversary of the moment that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and became effective on Jan. 1, 1863. (The Sun Chronicle – 1.2.13)

Despite uncooperative weather, the First UU Society of Marietta, Ohio, with the Marietta Rowing and Cycling Club put together the 17th annual Marietta Holiday Lights Bicycle Tour, with cyclists riding through the city’s decorated downtown streets and neighborhoods before ending at the church for refreshments. (Parkersburg News – 12.27.12)

Members of the UU Fellowship of Kamloops, British Columbia, have chosen to take a stand against the proposed construction of the Ajax mine. (Kamloop’s Daily News – 1.4.13)

UUs respond to recent shootings, and other UUs in the media

UUs respond to recent shootings

UUA President Peter Morales released a statement responding to the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., saying, in part: “This is a time for embracing one another and helping each other find strength and solace.” (UUA.org – 12.14.12)

The Rev. Rick Davis of the UU Congregation of Salem, Ore., facilitated an interfaith vigil to mark the recent shootings at Clackamas Town Center and in Newtown, Conn. Said Davis, “People just need to gather and be reminded there’s a sense of community and that there are helpers.” (Statesman Journal – 12.17.12)

At the River of Grass UU Congregation in Davie, Fla., children cut red hearts out of paper and wrote words of support, such as “Our hearts are with you” and “We’re sad for you,” to send to the Newtown survivors. The Rev.  Amy Carol Webb said, “There are many more people who are trying to change the world for the good than there are trying to hurt.” (Sun Sentinel – 12.16.12)

The Piedmont UU Church in Charlotte, N.C., held a candlelit vigil to honor the lives lost in the shooting in Newtown. (Salisbury Post – 12.17.12)

The Rev. Josh Pawelek, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society: East of Manchester, Conn., was a guest on NPR’s On Point program “The Spiritual Challenge of Newtown.” (WBUR – 12.21.12)

The ‘end of the world,’ and more

The Rev. David Green, minister of the Amarillo UU Fellowship in Amarillo, Tex., delivered a sermon on the end of the Mayan calendar where he noted that being drawn to the end of the world isn’t particular to modern life. (Amarillo Globe-News – 12.19.12)

In celebration of Human Rights Day, UUs gathered in front of the city hall in Bainbridge Island, Wash., for the Interfaith Council’s Fifth Annual Community Read-In of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Bainbridge Island Review – 12.17.12)

Holiday break

Season’s greetings from UU World. Our offices will be closed for the holidays December 24 to January 2. UUs in the Media will return on January 4. See you next year!

Congregation sets a world record, and other UUs in the media

Record-setting carolers in Westport, Conn. (Courtesy Jim Keenan)

Members and friends of the Unitarian Church in Westport, Conn., set a world record Dec. 12 for the number of carolers going door to door. (Jim Keenan)

Connecticut congregation sets world record

Singing songs like “Let it Snow” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” the Unitarian Church in Westport, Conn., and members of the community have set the world record for the most carolers going house to house. Representatives from Guinness World Records awarded the “One Voice” event entry. Each of the 502 participant payed $10 to sing, and the money raised will support the Lily Sarah Grace Fund, which benefits the arts in under-funded elementary schools across America. While it did not set the record for largest gathering of carolers, the group did set the record for largest organized and sanctioned gathering of door-to-door carolers. (Westport Now – 12.12.12, Forbes – 12.12.12)

A video report of the event can be found here and a video of the singing can be found here. (WTNH.com, The Norwalk Daily Voice – 12.12.12)

Helping the homeless, speaking against bigotry, and more

Members of the social action committee of the Unitarian Universalist Bay de Noc Fellowship in Escanaba, Mich., among others, spoke to the Escanaba City Council about the city’s homelessness problem. Member Jim Rettig said the group is “seeking to have multiple commercial areas in the city zoned for transitional housing for the homeless.” (The Daily Press – 12.7.12)

The Revs. Becky and Mark Edmiston-Lange, co-ministers of the Emerson UU Church in Houston, Tex., joined other religious leaders in signing a letter addressing the members of the Islamic Outreach Center in Cypress, Tex., expressing their sorrow over a recent act of bigotry, saying they are “dismayed that still, our Muslim sisters and brothers are unfair targets of prejudice born of misplaced fear, ignorance and narrow mindedness.” (Houston Chronicle – 12.6.12)

The Northlake UU Church in Kirkland, Wash., celebrated same-sex marriages by offering couples a complete wedding package that included everything from the ceremony to cake and a champagne toast for only $25. (KING5.com – 12.10.12)

Police are still searching for whoever burglarized the UU Congregation of Fort Wayne, Ind., on November 15. There was a loss of electronics, gift cards from a scrip program, and cash totaling approximately $6,400. (Frost Illustrated – 12.12.12)

Celebrating Chalica, and other UUs in the media

UU holiday joins packed season of celebration

The religion editor of the Toledo Blade wrote that, while he sincerely gives “respectful greetings to friends and family of many faiths in this month of holidays” such as the Unitarian Universalist Chalica, the modern overabundance of decorations, music, and festivities throughout December might be overdoing it a little. (Toledo Blade – 12.1.12)

If you don’t know about Chalica, a celebration of the UU Principles, UU World has an article explaining it. (UU World – 12.7.09)

Avoiding the fiscal cliff, exhuming burial grounds, and more

UUA President Peter Morales called upon elected political leaders to “let the common good, not the interests of the powerful, guide you toward reaching an agreement” in their attempts to avoid going over the fiscal cliff. (The Huffington Post – 12.3.12)

David Coombs, the attorney for Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged WikiLeaks tipster, spoke to the Bradley Manning Support Network at the All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington D.C., about Manning’s “disgraceful” treatment in prison. More information on the case, including a video of part of Coombs’ speech, can be found here. (guardian.co.uk – 12.4.12, Kansas City infoZine – 12.6.12)

The Community Action Party criticized the Salford City Council and Asda Supermarkets for exhuming 313 bodies from the former Swinton Unitarian Burial Ground in Swinton, England, to put in a new supermarket. Locals are upset that the construction, approved in June 2012, will mean relocating the bodies of, among others, three victims of a historic mine explosion and a WWI hero. (Manchester Gazette – 12.4.12, BBC News – 6.20.12)

The UU Church in Meriden, Conn., hosted a forum called “Coming to America: A Forum on Immigration” for people interested in learning about immigrants and the struggles they face as they start a new life in the United States. (Myrecordjournal.com – 12.5.12)

Embracing community at interfaith Thanksgiving services, and other UUs in the media

UUs mark Thanksgiving with interfaith services

Allyson Lent, the student minister of the UU Fellowship in Plattsburgh, N.Y., planned and led the Interfaith Council of Plattsburgh and Clinton County’s annual Thanksgiving Service. (Press-Republican – 11.23.12)

The Rev. Cynthia Landrum of the Universalist Unitarian Church of East Liberty in Clarklake, Mich., organized an interfaith Thanksgiving Eve celebration where representatives from different faiths could say a prayer or hymn and explain how their religion celebrates the holiday. She said, “It’s a wonderful experience, and it’s a gift to bring the community together, which is the main purpose.” (MLive.com – 11.20.12)

The UU Society of Greater Springfield, Mass., joined other local churches in an interfaith Thanksgiving service. The reporter relates one notable moment when Jennifer Seymour, wife of UU Society of Springfield’s minister the Rev. Jason Seymour, danced in the pews with her young son while the St. John’s Congregational church’s choir sang gospel music. (MassLive.com – 11.20.12)

Concert benefits Sandy victims, London church can wed same-sex couples, and more

The Bergen UU Relief Group is holding a Superstorm Sandy Benefit Relief Concert at the Central Unitarian Church in Paramus, N.J. The group is formed from a trio of New Jersey churches: Central Unitarian, the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, and the Unitarian Congregation of the Palisades, and their purpose is to focus the time, talent, and money of their congregations to aid those in Bergen County who have suffered as a result of Sandy. (NorthJersey.com – 11.29.12)

The Newington Green Unitarian Church in London, England, has finally been given its license to marry same-sex couples. Originally, the 300-year-old church was denied the license by the London Fire Authority, despite already being allowed to marry heterosexual couples. The church’s minister, the Rev. Andrew Pakula, said, “To celebrate, we are giving the first couple to apply to have a same-sex partnership a free service, saving several hundred pounds.” (Islington Tribune – 11.30.12, EastLondonLines – 11.3.12)

More than 600 people attended the fifth annual Association Sunday gathering of eight central-Pennsylvania UU congregations, where they worshiped together and learned about Earth-based spirituality from guest speaker Starhawk. (bctv.org – 11.21.12)

The Unitarian Church of Staten Island in New Brighton, N.Y., is receiving an award from the Staten Island LGBT Community Center for its work with and support of the local LGBT community, including its “advocacy for civil rights, marriage and transgender equality.” (SILive.com – 11.26.12)


Activist denied job at UU church, and other UUs in the media

Bureau of Prisons blocks DeChristopher from job at UU church

An attorney for environmental activist Tim DeChristopher says DeChristopher won’t be allowed to take a job at a UU church because Bureau of Prisons officials didn’t want him serving his work release in the church’s social justice ministry since his crime was related to social justice. (Deseret News – 11.7.12)

The latest issue of UU World has two articles about DeChristopher: one detailing how his activism led him to prison and to plans to become a UU minister, and one written by him reflecting on how interconnectedness makes the powerless powerful. (UU World – Winter 2012)

UUs spotted on ‘The Daily Show’

On Thursday night, UU viewers of The Daily Show spotted several people in Standing on the Side of Love shirts during a segment about Arizona. You can watch the episode online (the Arizona segment starts at about the 10:00 mark; look for the SSL shirts at about 12:20).

Religious liberty, services for non-believers, and more

The Rev. Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, an ordained UU minister and executive director of the ACLU of Colorado, wrote an article about religious liberty, saying, “religious liberty does not include a freedom to impose religious views or practices on others.” (Denverpost.com – 11.10.12)

This fall, the Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Okla., started a special service for non-theists. (Tulsa World – 11.10.12) All Souls has been opening its doors to religious seekers for some time, having invited Bishop Carlton Pearson and his congregation to join their services several years ago. (UU World – Fall 2009)

The People’s Church of Kalamazoo, Mich., was chosen to receive the Unitarian Universalist Association’s 2012 Bennett Award “for the scope and depth of work at both local and international levels.” The award is given annually to honor a congregation that has done noteworthy work in social justice. (MLive.com – 11.14.12)

Musicians Dan Arnow, Mark Stevenson, and Yolanda Sue Guedea from the UU Church of Ogden, Utah, will offer musical selections as part of the annual Interfaith Works Thanksgiving Celebration. (Standard.net – 11.9.12)

The Occult, a movie filmed this spring at Pender County locations including the Shelter Neck UU Camp in Burgaw, N.C., will be returning this week to gather additional footage for the movie. (StarNewsOnline.com – 11.13.12)

UUs engage with election, and other UUs in the media

UUs engage with election, politics

Ami Bera may be helping to add some religious diversity to Congress by getting elected in California. A California doctor who was raised Hindu, Bera now identifies as a UU, according to the Hindu American Foundation. (Washington Post – 11.7.12) As of November 8, Bera held a 184-vote lead over the incumbent, Rep. Dan Lungren, who had not yet conceded the race. (Sacramento Bee – 11.8.12)
The only UU currently serving in the House of Representatives, Rep. Pete Stark of Fremont, Calif., lost his bid for re-election (Mercury News – 11.7.12). Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, the only UU in the Senate, is retiring at the end of this session.

UUA President the Rev. Peter Morales wrote a blog about how, in the wake of the latest election, UUs must look to the future and not be afraid. (Huffington Post – 11.8.12)

On election day, to show her support for the Civil Marriage Protection Act, Katherine McCann, a member of the UU Congregation of Frederick, Md., joined other of members of the congregation’s Social and Environmental Justice Committee to hand out fliers in support of Question 6 to voters. (Gazette.net: Maryland Community News Online – 11.6.12)

The Rev. Todd Eklof, minister of the UU Church of Spokane, Wash., said that he is willing to perform weddings again if the measure to uphold same-sex marriage in Washington passed. Eklof has not performed a marriage ceremony since 2004, when Kentucky, where he used to live, banned same-sex couples from marrying. (Northwest Cable News – 11.7.12)

Bill Maher recapped the 2012 election and said of Romney, “By Tuesday, he’ll be insisting he’s always been a staunchly pro-gay Unitarian who hates corporations, is proud of his Latino heritage, and doesn’t want old white men telling him what he can’t do with his vagina.” (PoliticusUSA – 11.3.12)

London church denied license for same-sex ceremonies

The Newington Green Unitarian Church in London, U.K., was denied a license to conduct same-sex civil partnership after failing a fire risk assessment. Had the Fire Authority granted the license, it would have become the first religious building in London to host same-sex civil partnerships. The church’s minister, the Rev. Andy Pakula, expressed frustration that while he must update the church with new fire exits and smoke detectors in order to marry same-sex couples, he does not need these things to continue to marry heterosexual couples, an issue he considers “absurd.” (EastLondonLines – 11.3.12, Gay Star News – 11.7.12)

‘Robust kindness,’ shelter from the cold, and more

The Rev. Elizabeth Linton Greene, minister at Boise UU Fellowship in Garden City, Idaho, wrote an article about “robust kindness” and the kind of courage it takes to achieve it. (Idaho Statesman – 11.3.12)

The UU Fellowship of the Emerald Coast in Valparaiso, Fla., is joining other churches in providing cold-weather shelters. (The Northwest Florida Daily News – 11.4.12)

In response to discrimination against LGBT and agnostic/atheist youth and leaders in such groups as the Boy Scouts of America, the UU Church of Ogden, Utah, has formed a co-ed, non-discriminatory scouting program, part of Navigators USA. (Standard.net – 11.2.12)

See also:
Scouting alternatives draw UU youth
(uuworld.org – 9.21.07)
Alternative scouting group starts to grow
(uuworld.org – 3.14.11)

Parents at the Unitarian Church of Staten Island, N.Y., have decided to provide middle school students with a course the the UUA’s Our Whole Lives (OWL) sexuality education program to give “a more complete approach to their sexuality with a broad base of information.” (SIlive.com – 11.6.12)

Colbert jokes about ‘cult of Unitarianism,’ and other UUs in the media

Stephen Colbert jokes about ‘dangerous cult of Unitarianism’

Unitarianism was mentioned on The Colbert Report Thursday night. Colbert said that while the Rev. Billy Graham, after meeting with Mitt Romney, has removed Mormonism from his list of cults, Unitarians are still on the list. (02:55) Said Colbert, “Oh yes, the dangerous cult of Unitarianism. Their rules are so loose that their three sacred texts are the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Free To Be You and Me.” (The Colbert Report – 11.1.12)

It should be noted that the Rev. Billy Graham’s website has taken down the section about cults. (Billygraham.org)

Politics, a paranormal pastor, and more

The Rev. Meg Riley, of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, wrote about the upcoming vote concerning the marriage amendment in Minnesota and how various members of the Catholic faith are responding to it. (Huffington Post - 10.31.12)

Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins spoke at the Peoples Church UU in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, about the role of the judicial branch and how it does not have a political agenda. Wiggins is facing a retention vote to keep his job, as conservatives want him removed from the bench for having taken part in the court’s unanimous 2009 ruling that paved the way for same-sex civil marriage in Iowa. (The Gazette – 10.28.12)

According to Atala Toy, an author and spiritualist in Geneva, Ill., the spirit of the Rev. Augustus Conant, the first pastor of the UU Society of Geneva, who served the congregation from 1842 to 1857, haunts the UU church. Toy said that she “met” Conant a few years ago during a Geneva History Center ghost tour. (Kane County Chronicle – 10.31.12)

Dr. Paul Louis Metzger wrote an article responding to a piece on religious tolerance written by the Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell, former senior minister of the First Unitarian Church of Portland, Ore. (Huffington Post – 11.1.12, 10.19.12)

Congregations celebrate fall holidays, and other UUs in the media

Congregations celebrate fall holidays

The Unitarian Church in Summit, N.J., is celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. (Independent Press – 10.25.12)

For Halloween, the UU Congregation of Marblehead, Mass., is hosting its second annual “Great Pumpkin Carving Contest,” and the UU Church of Little Rock, Ark., is hosting a live staging of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. (WickedLocal – 10.19.12, InArkansas.com – 10.24.12)

The UU Congregation of the Palisades in Englewood, N.J., will commemorate the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, the “Day of the Dead.” (NorthJersey.com – 10.25.12)

The UU Congregation of Charleston, W.Va., is holding a Witchy Weekend, which will include a Psychic Fair, the annual Witches’ Ball, and a ceremony observing Samhain—a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest year and the beginning of winter. (Charleston Daily Mail – 10.25.12)

Physician-assisted suicide, Houston church hosts conference, and more

The Rev. Tim Kutzmark of the UU Church of Reading, Mass., once again discussed “Dying with Dignity” and why he now supports it. In the November 6 election Massachusetts will be voting on Question 2, which will decide whether or not “to allow a physician licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at a terminally ill patient’s request, to end that patient’s life.” (AP, Boston.com – 10.20.12, 2012 Information for Voters)

The Emerson UU Church in Houston, Tex., will be hosting the 9th annual Houston Bioneers Conference, which will provide “social and scientific innovators with the opportunity to share ideas and solutions to issues facing the economy, city, environment and humanity.” (Ultimate Memorial – 10.25.12)

The Rev. Darcy Baxter of Starr King UU Church in Hayward, Calif., along with other religious leaders, condemned Indiana Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock’s horrifying statement that pregnancies as a result of rape are a “gift from God” and as such women who become pregnant from rape should be denied abortions. (ThinkProgress – 10.25.12)

The Mission Peak UU Congregation in Fremont, Calif., has hired Washington High teacher Teri Hu to teach a free class that will focus on critically acclaimed literature banned by the Fremont school board. (San Jose Mercury News – 10.23.12)

The Rev. Eugene R. “Guy” LaMothe has been hired as the new minister of the All Souls UU Church in Watertown, N.Y., becoming “the shepherd of two flocks” as he now splits his time between working on his farm and at the church. (Watertown Daily Times – 10.23.12)

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