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Unitarian Universalists in the media

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

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)

Mexican man takes sanctuary in UU church, and other UUs in the media

Denver UUs offer sanctuary despite deportation order

Stemming from a 2010 confrontation with a fellow contractor that led to his arrest and the flagging of his legal status, a 41-year-old father of two and 15-year Colorado resident, Artruro Hernandez Garcia, moved into the basement of First Unitarian Society of Denver last week to claim sanctuary from deportation. Though Garcia was found innocent of any charges associated with the altercation, a deportation order was issued to take effect on October 21. “There are so many families just like mine that have come here to work and look for a future for our children,” Garcia told the Denver congregation. “…we are a part of this country and not a threat.” (Raw Story – 10.27.14)

Related stories include:

Mexican claiming sanctuary in Unitarian church in Denver seeks asylum (TribLive – 10.27.14)

Six individuals claim refuge in US churches to avoid deportation (International Business News – 10.28.15)

Man facing deportation claims sanctuary in Denver church basement (Denver Post – 10.26.14)

Social Security benefits denied to lesbian widow

Last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor extended social security benefits to same-sex couples, but a Texas woman is now suing to claim those benefits. Widow Kathy Murphy, who married her longtime partner Sara Barker at the UUA in Boston in 2010, claims that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has continued to follow current Texas state laws in issuing benefits, and that the SSA policy violates the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection. (Project Q – 10.28.14)

News from congregations

After recently receiving an Earth Keepers Grant to install their own solar panels, the Marquette Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Marquette, Mich., will be holding a forum to address what solar power is, and how it might further benefit their community. (ABC 10 News – 10.24.14)

After same-sex marriage was declared legal in Idaho last week, Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship welcomed all same-sex couples who wished to be legally wed or who wanted their existing marriages blessed. (KBOI 2 – 10.25)

The Beyond-These-Four-Walls initiative at Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church in Racine, Wisc., offers help and support to community endeavors that assist individuals and families. Funds for the initiative are obtained by splitting the proceeds of the church’s collections. (The Journal Times – 10.25-14)

Sanctuary initiative holds Denver families together, and other UUs in the media

Sanctuary seeker takes refuge from deportation at UU church

In an effort to avoid being forcibly deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Arturo Hernandez became Colorado’s first sanctuary seeker earlier this week, and has taken refuge at First Unitarian Society of Denver. Hernandez, a 15-year resident of the state, hopes to draw attention to the issue of immigration and the separation of immigrant families. (The Denver Post – 10.22.14)

Related story: 

First person in Colo. claims sanctuary to avoid deportation (Public News Service – 10.22.14)

Same-sex marriage ban lifted in Wyoming, other states

Same-sex marriages became legal in Wyoming earlier this week after State Attorney General Peter Michael filed a notice saying that the state will not appeal a judge’s order overturning its ban on same-sex ceremonies. Unitarian Universalist Church of Cheyenne minister, the Rev. Audette Fulbright, was on hand outside of the Laramie County Courthouse to oversee one of the state’s first same-sex ceremonies. (Wyoming Tribune Eagle – 10.21.14)

Related stories:

S.C. county awaits its first gay marriage after ruling (Nogales International – 10.21.14)

Gay marriage to begin in Wyoming (Wyoming Tribune Eagle – 10.21.14)

Same-sex marriage arrives in Wyoming (Wyoming Public Media – 10.21.14)

Idaho Falls church rejoices start of same-sex marriages (Local News 8 – 10.19.14)

Marriage equality in Fairfax and beyond (The Connection – 10.21.14)

UUs stand for racial justice, call to end police brutality

Residents of Rockford, Ill., rallied against police brutality this week in the wake of the unarmed shooting of Missouri teen Michael Brown, and called for an end to “unnecessarily aggressive police tactics, mass incarceration, and racism.” The protest was organized by the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rockford and the local Anti-Racism Network (MyStateLine.com – 10.23.14)

Related story: 

Race protest draws 75 in Montclair (TheAlternativePress.com – 10.23.14)

Renaming Columbus Day, growing marriage equality, and other UUs in the media

Sudbury UUs honor indigenous peoples

First Parish of Sudbury, Mass., joined in the effort to change the focus of the Columbus Day holiday to recognize the culture and contributions of Native Americans by celebrating “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in their church. Describing Christopher Columbus as a man who exemplified “the worst of what human kind has to offer,” the Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty said in her sermon, “Some traditions are just not worth carrying forward.” (MetroWest Daily News – 10.13.14)

UU church offering free wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples

In the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling that ended the ban on same-sex marriage in some states, Olympia Brown UU Church minister the Rev. Tony Larsen will be performing free wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples at the Racine, Wisc., church over the next few weeks. Larsen and his longtime partner were the first couple to receive a marriage license in Racine County. (Journal-Times – 10.14.14)

Related stories include:

Lesbian ministers declare victory (MyFoxOrlando.com – 10.14.14 )

Same-sex marriages continue in Wake Co. after ruling (WNCN.com – 10.11.14)

Church leaders address legalization of same-sex marriage (Time-Warner News – 10.12.14)

Eau Claire lesbian couple led relentless fight for marriage equality in Wis. (Leader-Telegram – 10.12.14)

South Fork UUs celebrate 30 years

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork in Bridgehampton, N.Y., will celebrate its 30th anniversary by holding a special “homecoming” service. (Sag Harbor Express – 10.15.14)

Pennsylvania UUs gather in interfaith solidarity

In response to a seminar titled “Islam, Christianity: The Coming Conflict,” an interfaith group of Unitarians, Jews, Christians, Pagans, Muslims, and atheists gathered in Sunbury, Pa., to showcase the peaceful relationships amongst the various groups. “We wanted to organize this interfaith grouping tonight because we believe in putting love out in the world,” said UU Congregation of the Susquehanna Valley minister the Rev. Ann Keeler Evans. (The Daily Item – 10.10.14)

Rallying for reproductive justice in North Dakota

A November ballot initiative in North Dakota that seeks to protect existing laws regulating abortion has come under scrutiny from local groups and faith communities. With the potential to prevent judicial activism that could grant the right to unlimited abortion in the future, the initiative also raises concerns with members of Bismarck-Mandan Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. (Bismark Tribune – 10.11.14)

 

 

Same-sex marriage gaining ground, and other UUs in the media

Virginia’s first same-sex wedding performed by UU minister

Thirty U.S. states now have marriage equality following the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this week to refuse to hear appeals from five states seeking to prohibit same-sex marriage. The Rev. Linda Olson Peebles of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Va., was on hand at the Arlington County Courthouse to perform the state’s first same-sex wedding ceremony. “The Commonwealth of Virginia agrees with us that every person has worth and dignity and that love matters no matter what your sexual orientation is,” she said. (ARL Now – 10.6.14)

Related stories include:

Same-sex couples begin to marry in Virginia (Washington Post – 10.6.14)

Supreme Court’s decision on Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban kills opposition for “foreseeable future” (Elkhart Truth – 10.6.14)

Falls Church couple seizes the moment after Virginia allows same-sex marriages (Washington Post – 10.6.14)

GOP legislative leaders ask to intervene in NC gay marriage cases (WRAL.com – 10.9.14)

The Rev. Audette Fulbright Fulson of the UU Church of Cheyenne, Wyo., wrote in to tell us that she and two members of the congregation were featured in two front page stories this week in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on the state’s continued ban on same-sex marriage. The articles are not easy to access online, but at least one is on the paper’s website. (Wyoming Eagle Tribue – 10.8.13)

UUA HQ designed to foster collaboration

Many modern office buildings now use open concept designs to foster a sense of community at the workplace and create more opportunities for inter-office collaboration. The Boston Globe looks at the UUA’s new headquarters and other office spaces designed with that mindset. (Boston Globe – 10.8.14)

Michigan UUs collect shoes for charity

Contributing to the national nonprofit organization, Soles4Souls, New Hope Unitarian Universalist congregation members in New Hudson, Mich., have worked to organize shoe drives in their community, and have collected more than 800 pairs of shoes over the last three years. (hometownlife.com – 10.6.14)

Texas church celebrates 60th anniversary

Celebrating their 60th anniversary as a congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Midland, Tex., and the Rev. Thomas Schmidt are taking advantage by welcoming community members to come and learn more about Unitarian Universalism, and to dispel any misconceptions about the faith. (Midland Reporter Telegram – 10.9.14)

UU church is clean energy leader, and other UUs in the media

UU church is clean energy leader

Recognized as a clean energy leader, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin, Ill., will be one of more than 60 sites across the state to be featured on the Illinois Solar Tour this month. Coordinated nationally by the American Solar Energy Society, the statewide tour demonstrates how innovative technologies used locally can benefit the environment on a global level. (The Courier-News – 9.29.14)

Raising awareness for domestic violence in Maryland

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Harford County, Md., will host its annual Silent Witness Program in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness month. Wooden silhouettes representing real victims of domestic violence will be unveiled during a special ceremony on the lawn of the church. (Baltimore Sun – 10.3.14)

OUT MetroWest expands program, mission

A gay, lesbian, and transgender youth support program launched three years ago by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Wellesley, Mass., now has a new name and expanded mission. The newly formed nonprofit, OUT MetroWest, plans to increase support services for middle school students and teens in need. Executive Director Jack Lewis said he will seek “community involvement and input from the schools and faith leaders’’ in order to provide a safe place for teens to explore questions of gender and orientation. (Wicked Local – 9.28.14)

Pennsylvania minister shows support for minimum-wage hike

The Rev. Peter Friedrichs of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County, Pa., joined local politicians, union representatives, and community groups at the Delaware County Courthouse earlier this week to show support for raising the minimum wage. (Philly.com – 10.1.14)

Summit UUs rally en masse for climate action

Two hired buses helped carry over 100 members of the Unitarian Church in Summit, N.J., to the People’s Climate March in New York City late last month to stand alongside the estimated 350,000 participants calling on world leaders for immediate climate action. “It was inspiring to be part of an ever growing stream of folks committed to saving our place on the planet,” said senior interim minister the Rev. Terry Sweetser. (Alternative Press – 9.29.14)

Church hires first full-time, female minister

A central Massachusetts church hired the first full-time, female minister in its 272-year history. Taking over the pulpit at First Church in Sterling, an interdenominational church of Unitarian Universalists and members of the United Church of Christ, the Rev. Robin Bartlett will now focus on establishing an “open and affirming process” and will make a public covenant of welcome to all in the church, regardless of sexual orientation. (The Landmark – 10.2.14)

UU church added to Virginia Landmarks Register and other UUs in the media

UU church may become national landmark

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Va., has been named an historic landmark in the Virginia Landmarks Register, and may soon also be named to the National Register of Historic Places. Built and designed in 1964 by architect Charles Goodman, the structure reflects the liberal and progressive beliefs of the congregation. “We’re hoping by it being put on the national registry, people will realize that the physical presence of a group in a community matters,” said the Rev. Linda Olson Peebles. (ARL Now – 9.23.14)

Waging peace in Connecticut

Members of First Unitarian Universalist Church in Bridgewater, Conn., took to the streets last week with signs and slogans to mark their 10th annual Celebration for Peace in conjunction with the United Nations International Day of Peace. The march was accompanied by the support of passers-by who honked car horns and cheered in a show of solidarity. “It’s kind of been a tough year for peace with all of the un-peaceful things going on in the world right now,” said church member Betty Gilson. “We saw a lot of people in the world waging war, so we decided we should wage peace.” (Wicked Local – 9.22.14)

Tufts University creates first humanist staff position

A newly created humanist chaplain staff position at Tufts University has become the first of its kind in the United States. UU minister and Tufts University chaplain, the Rev. Gregory McGonigle, was responsible for developing the trailblazing decision. (Religious News Service – 9.3.14)

Remembering the Sharps

For their efforts in rescuing Jews from Nazi terror during World War II, Martha Sharp and the Rev. Waitstill Sharp are two of only four Americans honored by Israel’s Yad Vashem national museum of the Holocaust. The couple’s humanitarian efforts are the focus of the documentary film Two Who Dared: The Sharps’ War. (Toledo Blade – 9.20.14)

Volunteers construct new rain garden on church grounds

Volunteers from First Unitarian Universalist Church of Rochester, Minn., and others have helped to avoid erosion caused by heavy rains by constructing a rain garden on the church property. Filled with donated and purchased plants, including many native species, the rain garden “fulfills one of our missions, to be environmentally responsible,” said project organizer Key Eberman. (PostBulletin.com – 9.23.14)

See related: Evanston Unitarian church installs rain gardens (uuworld.org – 9.1.14) 

More environment news from UUs:

UN Climate Summit prompts People’s Climate March, hundreds block Wall St. (Latin Post – 9.24.14)

Companies to make climate pledges at UN Summit (PNJ.com – 9.22.14)

UUs march for climate change awareness, and other UUs in the media

UUs march for action on climate change 

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Church in Elkhart, Ind., hosted participants in the Great March for Climate Action, a cross-country march to raise awareness for climate justice. Some of the marchers will take a short break from their journey to travel to New York City to take part in the People’s Climate March on September 21. (The Elkhart Truth – 9.12.14)

Other climate march news:

Updates from the People’s Climate Train to New York City (uuworld.org – 9.16.14)

Why we march: Five individuals share their stories (The Indypendent – 9.12.14)

Climate vigil to show solidarity with march in New York City (Daily Record – 9.16.14)

Religious groups mobilize at People’s Climate March (Huffington Post – 9.17.14)

Volunteer group helps children learn to read, write

After funding for kindergarten aides was cut three years ago, Unitarian Universalists volunteered their time to successfully continue mentoring children in their reading and writing skills at the Morris Street School in Danbury, Conn. Now the program is expanding to other district elementary schools. Founded by retired IBM executive and UU Charles Schott, the Morris Street School Project and its volunteers have become an important part in the lives of the students at the school. (News Times – 9.15.15)

Romanian Unitarians strengthen bonds in the U.S.

Earlier this month, Follen Community Church in East Lexington, Mass., welcomed visitors from its partner church in Alsófelsoszentmihály, a rural farming village in the Transylvanian region of Romania, for a ten day tour filled with social and religious events to help form a stronger bond between the two partner congregations. (Wicked Local – 9.16.14)

Church’s potluck for the needy resumes

A weekly potluck picnic for the homeless and needy families will resume early next month after being put on hold since Labor Day. The five-year-old program hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg, Fla., was put on hold due to a broken air conditioner at the church and complaints from neighbors about the increased presence of homeless people in the area. (St. Petersburg Tribune – 9.16.14)

 

UUs push for minimum wage increase, and other UUs in the media

Maine UU state advocacy network pushes for minimum wage increase

The Maine Unitarian Universalist State Advocacy Network and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee have partnered to push for an increase in the federal minimum wage through a campaign called “Wage Outrage,” that calls on Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins to help resurrect a bill that would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. “It’s just anti-American to think that a person could work that much—that many hours—and not be able to support their family,” said Dale McCormick, Augusta city council member and co-chair of the Maine UU State Advocacy Network. (MPBN News – 9.4.14)

More on minimum wage:

Las Cruces councilors to decide path for $10.10 minimum wage measure (Las Cruces Dun-News – 9.6.14)

Advocated unveil ‘Living Wage’ proposal for Sonoma County (The Press Democrat – 9.8.14)

Church offers community financial literacy program

The Rev. Ian White Maher of Original Blessing in Greenpoint, N.Y., a new Unitarian Universalist congregation, has partnered with financial planners in his Brooklyn neighborhood to develop a five-part seminar series called “Money Matters.” The seminar addresses important topics such as budgeting and goal setting, and also incorporates the societal and spiritual aspects of money, commerce, and the economy. “We explore the psychology behind money and the economic system that keeps us running in circles and tied to jobs we don’t like because we are afraid of our financial futures,” Maher said. “When earning more money becomes our only goal, it is very hard to feel satisfaction with our lives, particularly when our money habits have us constantly reacting and never really planning.” (CNBC – 9.10.14)

More news from UUs and congregations:

A recent pride rally in the NOTO Arts District of Topeka, Kans., drew about 500 people to celebrate the LGBT community. The event featured speakers from event planners, teens from the local LGBT community, and others, including the Rev. Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka, who praised the growing acceptance in the community and urged the crowd to “stand on the side of love.” (Topeka Capitol Journal - 9.6.14)

A scholarship program from Aiken Unitarian Universalist Church in Aiken, S.C., and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) recently recognized its first recipients who have demonstrated the PFLAG values of education, support, and advocacy through excellence in their educational achievements and leadership activities. (Aiken Standard – 9.8.14)

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