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Unitarian Universalists in the media

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

Media roundup: Historic publisher grows in new UUA headquarters

Beacon Press grows amid troubled publishing industry

Historic Unitarian Universalist Association publisher Beacon Press is increasing its staff size and diversity at a time when the publishing industry at large is stalling. Beacon director Helene Atwan notes that adding the remote staffers would not have been possible without the technology afforded by the new UUA headquarters buildings. (The Boston Globe - 5.5.15)

Association is known for its shareholder activism

UUA treasurer and chief financial officer, Tim Brennan, advises that being present and speaking up at annual meetings is an essential step to effective shareholder activism. He says giving the company advance notice also helps ensure you will have an opportunity to speak. (The Wall Street Journal - 5.3.15)

UU congregations renovate, celebrate, reflect

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills in Somerville, N.J., delayed their building dedication until the installation of a new elevator was complete. Guided by UU values, it was important to the congregation to hold the celebration only once people of all physical abilities were able to participate. (myCentralJersey.com - 5.4.15)

After relocating to a new building in Oak Ridge, Tenn., Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church has become a new sustainable energy provider in the community. The congregation finished the installation of a 20-kilowatt solar array in time for Earth Day. (Oak Ridge Today - 5.5.15)

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bowling Green, Ky., are developing grassland near their church using local plants and following a natural growing method. This project is part of their ministry of care in the congregation and in the community. (Bowling Green Daily News - 5.1.15)

As the Rev. Andrew Clive Millard prepares to celebrate the flower communion in his congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula in Newport News, Va., he notes the ritual’s historic roots in World War II Europe and its modern symbolism highlighting the different contributions we each bring to the world. (Daily Press - 5.3.15)

UUA President the Rev. Peter Morales recently helped celebrate the installation of the Rev. Gretchen E. Weis at Murray Unitarian Universalist Church in Attleboro, Mass. The installation was also a celebration of the congregation’s 140-year history as a liberal religious presence in the community. (The Sun Chronicle - 5.4.15)

Members of the largely white Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Springfield, Ill., have been meeting with black members of Calvary Missionary Baptist Church to engage in the complicated issues of race relations. They recently rang bells to signify the work that still needs to be done on the issue of race, 150 years after the death of Abraham Lincoln. (here & Now - 5.4.15)

‘Law & Order’ UU child dedication

In pop culture news, the latest episode of Law & Order: SVU, “Perverted Justice,” featured character Sgt. Olivia Benson having her soon-to-be-adopted child dedicated at a UU church. See a picture here.

Media roundup: UUs support Baltimore, racial justice

Congregations reflect on recent events, consider ways to help

In response to the tragic events in Baltimore, members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia, Md., gathered in small discussion groups to consider the influences of history, racism, and economic inequality and what people of faith must do to resolve these issues in their own community. (Baltimore Sun - 4.30.15)

The Unitarian Church of Evanston, Ill., installed a large lawn sign with the words “Black Lives Matter” in response to recent violence against black people and to appeal for justice in the American legal system. The decision to place the sign was a result of the first unanimous congregational vote in the church for over 50 years. (Windy City Times - 4.25.15)

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Rockville, Md., held a service of solidarity with the people of Baltimore. People of all faiths were invited to their multigenerational service seeking peace for the children, acknowledging the source of these problems lies in escalating inequality in America. (mymcmedia.org - 4.29.15)

See also: “In Baltimore, Unitarian Universalists look for ways to help” (uuworld.org – 4.30.15)

UUs support marriage equality as U.S. Supreme Court reviews landmark case

William N. Eskridge Jr. observes that there has been a shift in the American religious landscape where the assumption that all religions oppose same-sex marriage is increasingly inaccurate. He highlights the amicus brief to which the Unitarian Universalist Association is signed as evidence. (New York Times - 4.25.15)

The Rev. Lynn Hopkins of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Montgomery, Ala., clarifies how the legal question before the U.S. Supreme Court is different from recent religious freedom bills under review in the states. Religious freedom laws attempt to extend special rights to religious bigots, argues Hopkins. (Montgomery Advertiser - 4.28.15)

At an interfaith service in Columbus, Ohio, the Rev. Mark Belletini of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus acknowledged that, although it has not been legally recognized, he has performed same-sex weddings since 1979. He notes that biblical references opposing such marriages are merely individuals’ interpretations of scripture. (10tv.com - 4.26.15)

Other marriage-equality stories include:

“Marriage supporters hold vigil outside Supreme Court” (Washington Blade - 4.27.15)

“Huntsville vigil signifies LGBT support in approaching Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage” (al.com - 4.27.15)

“Same-sex marriage supporters rally in Flint as U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments” (mlive.com - 4.28.15)

Other UUs in the news

On the question of what groups are best placed to lead efforts to reduce extreme poverty and economic inequality in America, the Rev. Myriam Renaud of Du Page Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville, Ill., believes that only religious institutions have the scope and moral authority to reverse this dangerous trend. (Al Jazeera America - 4.24.15)

The Rev. Barbara Prose of All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Okla., testified in the nonjury trial of Matt Slick, accused of stabbing his mother to death in 2012, that the young man was incoherent the evening of the crime. Both the defendant and his mother worked at the church. (Tulsa World - 5.1.15)

Other coverage of the trial includes:

“Family Says Mental Illness Caused Tulsa Son To Stab Mother To Death” (NewsOn6.com - 4.30.15)

Media roundup: UU religious educator is top teacher in Maryland

Creating a safe space for students to succeed

Laura Potter, chair of religious education at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Harford County in Churchville, Md., was nominated by her high school math students to be Harford County teacher of the year. Making a safe space for learning, where students feel valued, is central to her teaching philosophy. (The Baltimore Sun - 4.22.15)

Minister discusses integration of spirituality, business

The Rev. Scotty McLennan, former dean of religious life at Stanford University, is interviewed about his views on the connections between business and spiritual life. He sees these as a natural pair, given that people in business spend much of their lives at work and want that time to be meaningful. (qz.com - 4.17.15)

When inclusive prayer is excluded

Joseph Laycock offers some analysis of the recent protest in the Iowa State House of a prayer given by a leader of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, Deborah Maynard. The protest highlights the faulty logic of religious freedom assumed by allowing different forms of prayer in public meetings. (Religion Dispatches - 4.16.15)

Interfaith family is united despite differences

John and Miriam Saxon are a married couple who not only practice different religious traditions but are also ordained clergy in different traditions. John, a Unitarian Universalist minister, sees little problem with Miriam’s role as an Episcopal priest because they are both spiritual pathways that lead to good. (WCNC News - 4.20.15)

UU connections to landmark LGBTQ issues

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Va., is listed on a new online map of LGBTQ historic sites as the place where the Transgender Education Association was founded. The Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston is also listed as the location of the first legal same-sex marriage. The map was created by the National Park Service LGBTQ Initiative. (The Bay Area Reporter Online - 4.23.15)

The Unitarian Universalist Association is noted as a contributor to one of the largest amicus briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. The court will hear oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a same-sex marriage case scheduled to come before the court next week and widely expected to decide the legal status of same-sex marriage nationwide. (ThinkProgress.org - 4.21.15)

Media Roundup: Harvard grads start homeless shelter in UU church

Congregation more than willing to provide space for shelter

Recent graduates from Harvard University are working with First Parish UU in Cambridge, Mass., to create an overnight homeless shelter for youth in their area. First Parish in Cambridge sees this work as a natural extension of the congregation’s core values. (The Boston Globe - 4.13.15)

Additional coverage of this story includes:

“Student-Led Shelter for Homeless Young in Works at Harvard” (The Chronicle of Philanthropy - 4.14.15)

New co-ministers are part of a growing trend in ministry

As the Revs. Cathy and Heather Rion Starr prepare to be installed as co-ministers of the Unitarian Society of Hartford, Conn., they become part of a growing trend among religious groups today: that of having married couples leading houses of worship. (The New York Times - 4.17.15)

UU Pagan prayer met with silent protest

Despite the absence of many Iowa state representatives and others who turned their back in silent protest, Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans leader Deborah Maynard was humbled and awestruck at the opportunity to give the morning prayer before the Iowa State Legislature. (KCRG.com - 4.9.15)

Additional coverage of this story includes:

“Wiccan prayer at Iowa Legislature draws silent protest, boycott” (WCF Courier - 4.9.15)

Civil rights hero honored posthumously

Viola Liuzzo, a Unitarian Universalist activist who lost her life in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, received an honorary doctorate from Wayne State University. Her five children and grandchildren received the award on her behalf. (Detroit Free Press - 4.11.15)

UU congregation hopes to deepen interfaith dialogue

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Owensboro, Ky., was a co-sponsor in the area’s annual Faith Fest, an interfaith event to help their local community become more familiar with the diverse religious groups in their area. In addition to workshops, the co-sponsors have also received a grant to create an interfaith dialogue curriculum. (Messenger-Inquirer - 4.15.15)

UUs support sustainability, and other UUs in the media

Calling for climate justice, protecting and preserving natural resources

The Unitarian Universalist initiative Commit2Respond is in the spotlight for calling for spiritual action to fight climate change. UU leaders hope to inspire people of all religions to honor interconnectedness and work for positive change. (EcoWatch.com - 4.10.15)

The Rev. Kate Lehman is interviewed for her work as president of a West Virginia watershed association committed to protecting and preserving the streams and rivers in the state. Lehman describes the difficulty of supporting the watershed without long-range plans for sustainability. (The Star Democrat - 4.8.15)

Members of Towson Unitarian Universalist Church in Lutherville, Md., received a grant to build a rain garden on their property, which will keep most pollutants from going into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The congregation’s Green Sanctuary committee applied for the grant, which includes a public workshop. (The Baltimore Sun - 4.9.15)

Other congregational news

Casas de Luz, a nonprofit based out of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito in Solana Beach, Calif., is celebrating ten years of building homes for those in need in Tijuana, Mexico. Since it began, Casas de Luz has grown from a project of a single member of the fellowship to a sustainable nonprofit. They will build their 40th home this year. (Del Mar Times - 4.7.15)

United First Parish Church in Quincy, Mass., will install the Rev. Rebecca Froom as senior minister. Froom will be the first female minister to lead the congregation in its long history. The church is known as the Church of the Presidents because Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams were members. (The Patriot Ledger - 4.6.15)

Unitarian Universalist connections with Buddhism

The Rev. Doug Traversa of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tullahoma, Tenn., points to the seventh Unitarian Universalist Principle to explain the affinity many UUs have with Buddhist practice. He sees Buddhist awakening to be similar to honoring the interconnected web of existence. (Lion’s Roar - 4.8.15)

Major renovations for Frank Lloyd Wright church, and other UUs in the media

Famous church scheduled for $25 million restoration

Members of Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Oak Park, Ill., will begin meeting at a local Lutheran Church as construction begins on their famous Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building. Earlier this year, the church was nominated for consideration as a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site. (Chicago Tribune - 3.23.15)

Selma martyr awarded posthumous degree

In the first such act in their 145-year history, Wayne State University will award Viola Liuzzo an honorary doctor of law degree. Liuzzo’s five children have been invited to the awards ceremony. Liuzzo was a nursing student at Wayne State when she joined the civil rights movement. (Christian Science Monitor - 3.21.15)

Construction would make building more accessible

Second Parish in Hingham Unitarian Universalist, in Massachusetts, has been working for more than two years to design an addition to their building that is both historically appropriate and fully accessible for people with mobility issues. (The Patriot Ledger 3.22.15)

More coverage: “Second Parish in Hingham seeking funds for handicap-accessible entrance” (The Hingham Journal 3.22.15)

A new paradigm for interconnectedness

The Rev. Peggy Clarke writes to urge people to acknowledge that the work of seeking environmental justice is indelibly linked to seeking racial and economic justice and opposing discrimination based on individual identity. What we need is a Beloved Community, argues Clarke. (Huffington Post - 3.18.15)

Selma anniversary inspired Wisconsin march

The Rev. Laurie Bushbaum, interim minister at First Universalist Unitarian Church of Wausau, Wisc., has been instrumental in organizing a march in support of  the Black Lives Matter movement. Other faith groups expressed interest in joining the event after observing the 50th anniversary of the Selma, Ala., march. (Wausau Daily Herald - 3.25.15)

UU recognized for volunteer contributions

A member of First Unitarian Universalist Society in Albany, N.Y., Dawn Dana is interviewed about her volunteer work in the annual CROP Walk, her Unitarian Universalist beliefs, and her daughter, who serves in Unitarian Universalist ministry in Dallas, Tex. (Albany Times Union - 3.20.15)

Members of burned church vow to rebuild, and other UUs in the media

Fire destroyed church built in 1860

While heartbroken over the loss of a building that was like a second home to many of its members, the congregation of First Universalist Church of Southold, N.Y., is determined to rebuild. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but is not considered to be suspicious. (cbslocal.com - 3.16.15)

The Unitarian Universalist Association’s Central East Regional Group (CERG) is facilitating donations for recovery assistance for First Universalist Church of Southold. Learn more on the CERG website.

Minister is first installed in church’s 177-year history

After leaving the Catholic Church, the Rev. Helen McFadyen found the support she was seeking in the Unitarian Universalist Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It helped her come to terms with her deteriorating eyesight and follow a spiritual journey to atheism and Unitarian Universalist ministry. (CBCNews - 3.14.15)

Congregation supports undocumented children in Long Island

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, N.Y., is tapping into its endowment to give $400,000 this year to four Long Island organizations helping immigrant children in their community. The money will help provide legal services for the children. (Newsday - 3.17.15)

Mich. congregation offers reception for weddings held last year

The Rev. Bill Freeman, of Harbor Unitarian Universalist Church in Muskegon, married nearly 50 couples during the brief period of time when same-sex marriage was legal in Michigan. Now the congregation is planning a wedding reception for the couples, in connection with other marriage-equality events across the state. (mlive.com - 3.18.15)

High school students honored for leading peaceful protest

First Parish Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist in Cambridge, Mass., recently gave Courageous Love Awards to Sydney Fisher and Mary Gashaw. The young women led more than 200 of their fellow students in a “Hands Up Walk Out” protest last December in response to the decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson. (Cambridge Chronicle & Tab - 3.20.15)

Taking Selma home, and other UUs in the media

Anniversary participants link Selma to issues in their communities

Unitarian Universalists and others showed their support for Black Lives Matter protesters during an arraignment hearing in Minnesota. Many had just returned from Selma anniversary events and felt their presence at the court house was a continuation of that racial justice work. (KARE11.com – 3.10.15)

After participating in a Unitarian Universalist conference honoring civil rights activists from 1965 in Selma, Ala., climate justice activist Amelia Shenstone returned to her work at home with a renewed calling to continue working to bring clean energy to the South. (cleanenergy.org – 3.7.15)

The Rev. Phyllis L. Hubbell of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun in Leesburg, Va., invoked the anniversary of Selma in a town council vote on creating the town’s first-ever Diversity Advisory Commission and urged the town to be a model for inclusion in the region. (Loudoun Times – 3.11.15)

Remembering Selma activists who lost their lives

Amy K. Nelson interviewed the families of Unitarian Universalists Viola Liuzzo and the Rev. James Reeb to get their reflections on the current state of race relations and to consider whether enough progress has been made to make the loss of life worth it. (Medium.com – 3.11.15)

The Rev. Rob Hardies of All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C., is interviewed describing the civil rights work of the Rev. James Reeb, a former minister of All Souls. Hardies also described the congregation’s commitment to continuing the work of seeking racial justice. (The Washington Post – 3.6.15)

The Rev. Clark Olsen was with the Rev. James Reeb when he was attacked in Selma, Ala., in 1965, and he offered a powerful retelling of that evening and how it shaped his life and ministry since. (New York Daily News – 3.8.15)

Other remembrance stories include:

“Beaten, bloodied and murdered – Selma 50 years later” (CNN – 3.4.15)

“The unsung American heroes of Selma” (Al Jazeera – 3.6.15)

“Ragland: Don’t forget Selma or the hard-earned right to vote” (The Dallas Morning News – 3.6.15)

“Dying for the Right to Vote: Remembering the Selma Martyrs, From Jimmie Lee Jackson to Viola Liuzzo” (DemocracyNOW! – 3.10.15)

“Rev. James Reeb died in Birmingham 50 years ago today after Selma beating” (al.com – 3.11.15)

Unitarian Universalist Association supports environmental sustainability

The U.S. Green Building Council profiles the Unitarian Universalist Association’s new headquarters building in a list of best organizations that have achieved LEED certification. The UUA was awarded LEED platinum certification in December, which is the highest of four possible certifications. (USGBC.org – 3.13.15)

UUA Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Tim Brennan wrote an op-ed as an organizational shareholder in American Electric Power to urge the company to expand its existing clean-energy offerings and support clean-energy policies in Ohio and throughout the country. (Cleveland Plain Dealer – 3.13.15)

Working toward interfaith understanding

The Rev. Dr. M’ellen Kennedy led an event at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Marietta, Ga., intended to help heal the divide between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Kennedy is founder of Peace and Unity Bridge, an organization dedicated to this work. (The Marietta Daily Journal – 3.6.15)

The Rev. Lynda Smith, co-chairwoman of Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio, joined an interfaith conference in Hilliard, Ohio, to show support for a local Muslim congregation that has recently been the target of harassment. (The Columbus Dispatch – 3.11.15)

All eyes are on Selma, Ala., in this UUs in the media

Anniversary events over the weekend draw broad coverage and Unitarian Universalists are in the spotlight in different ways

Unitarian Universalists are participating in events across the country and reconnecting with civil rights efforts.

“Knoxville, Oak Ridge groups to march in Selma,” Oak Ridge Today 3.6.15

“Olympian Alison Mathews was moved to march in Selma,” The Olympian 3.4.15

Rubén Rosario: Debbie Montgomery is going back to Selma,” Pioneer Press 3.4.15

“Selma: Commemoration and Commitment,” The Huffington Post 3.2.15

The civil rights of 1965 are linked to justice work of today around LGBTQ equality

Coming Home: Selma, Int’l Women’s Day, LGBT Rights and Unitarian Universalism, The Huffington Post

“Like Selma 1965, Unitarians vow to keep fighting for civil rights – this time on gay marriage,” al.com 3.6.15

MAHONEY: Many footprints show Lyla the way to Selma, Alabama, Hamilton Spectator 3.4.15

Rev. Reeb’s death a common touchstone, with some mention of Viola Liuzzo

“‘A Call From Selma,’” The New York Times 3.6.15

“John Shearer: Selma Participant Viola G. Liuzzo Was A Former Chattanoogan,” TheChattanoogan.com 3.2.15

“The road from Selma was paved with the blood of four unsung martyrs,” Religion News Service 3.5.15

“Remembering the martyrs of Bloody Sunday,” USA Today 3.3.15

Image galleries offer visual narratives

“Gallery – Timeline of 1965′s Voting Rights Movement,” The Commercial Appeal 3.6.15

“Selma: ‘Marching to the Freedom Dream,’” The Wall Street Journal 3.5.15

“Timeline: The Selma-to-Montgomery marches,” USA Today 3.6.15

Honoring memories of Selma, and other UUs in the media

More coverage of UU connections to the historic march in Selma, Ala.

Former executive editor of The New York Times Howell Raines reflects on the powerful experience he had in 1965 when he was given the assignment to cover the prognosis of Unitarian Universalist minister the Rev. James Reeb. (Montgomery Advertiser 2.23.15)

The Rev. Lynn Hopkins of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Montgomery led a vigil to honor the death of a young, unarmed black man at the hands of police in 1965, Jimmie Lee Jackson. (Montgomery Advertiser 2.20.15)

Other Selma related stories include:

“Honoring civil rights activists on Selma’s 50th anniversary,” Albany Times Union 2.21.15

“Oscars 2015: What “Selma” Got Right and Got Wrong,” NBC News 2.22.15

“Practicing compassion, and teaching your kids: #1000speak,” ChicagoNow.com 2.21.15

UU minister seeks justice for prisoners

San Francisco, Calif., public defender and Unitarian Universalist minister, Karen Tse is profiled for her work fighting for the rights of prisoners by providing them with free legal counsel. (The Wall Street Journal 2.20.15)

Congregation celebrates new building

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon have spent the past 3 years designing and building their new meeting place in keeping with Unitarian Universalist principles supporting the democratic process and environmental stewardship. (The Bend Bulletin 2.22.15)

Seasonal event supports community members

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in East Falmouth, Mass., holds a mid-winter event each year to help support their local community, many of whom are senior citizens. The Rev. Bob Murphy says the event raises awareness of the problems brought on by difficult winter weather conditions. (capenews.net 2.20.15)

UUs lobby Texas legislators

Members of the Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry joined other people of faith at the state Capitol in Austin to lobby legislators to support full equality for LGBT people. Talking about LGBT issues from a faith perspective was both uncommon and appealing to the legislators. (dallasvoice.com 2.20.15)

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