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Unitarian Universalists in the media

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

Evolution Camp celebrates science, and other UUs in the media

Evolution Camp offers summer programming unique in area

First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Springfield, Mo., sponsored an Evolution Camp organized by religious education director Jennifer Lara, who created the program from others used in UU churches. Parents throughout the area took advantage of the opportunity the camp offered to kids who love science and filled the roster in just a few days. (Springfield News-Leader - 7.11.14)

Other evolution camp stories:

“Vacation Evolution School? This Unitarian Universalist Camp May Shock You” (Charisma News - 7.14.14)

“Ken Ham Criticizes Unitarian Church’s ‘Evolution Camp’ for Children; ‘Shocked’ at Assemblies of God Presence” (The Christian Post - 7.14.14)

Read more about UU summer camps for children: “The only place I can really be” (UU World – Summer 2013) 

UU retreats and conference centers highlighted

The Unitarian Universalist conference center Star Island, located off the New Hampshire coast, is installing enough solar panels to power nearly 30 homes. They hope to be a model for the future of sustainable energy use on the mainland. (New Hampshire Public Radio - 7.14.14)

Members of GAYLA, a program of the Ferry Beach Park Association’s Retreat and Conference Center in Saco, Maine, reflect on how the organization has spent years offering a safe space for gay men to relax and rejuvenate themselves once a year. The Association has a proud historic connection to Unitarian Universalism. (Sun Monthly - 7.13.14)

More news from UU congregations

A group of more than 300 members of All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C., gathered in front of the Supreme Court steps to call attention to the need to strengthen voter protections nationwide. The flash mob event included a musical medley of justice songs. (HRC Blog - 7.11.14)

Volunteers from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Silver City, N.Mex., have joined other local churches to support the children involved in the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. border with Mexico. The group is taking donations of a variety of goods, including food and clothes, to help care for the immigrants on a short-term basis. (Silver City Sun-News - 7.15.14)

The Unitarian Universalist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., was named an early adopter in the community of environmentally sustainable initiatives. The congregation has installed solar panels, which enable them to sell the electricity they do not use to the Tennessee Valley Authority and supplement their income. (timesfreepress.com - 7.13.14)

Work begins this month on renovations at First Parish Unitarian Universalist in Arlington, Mass., to expand its buildings to accommodate the growing number of members and non-members using the space. Congregation members raised $2 million for the upgrades. (The Arlington Advocate - 7.14.14)

 

Religious opposition to religious exemptions, and other UUs in the media

Hobby Lobby opinion is not the opinion of all religious people

The Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher, retired minister of DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville, Ill., joined clergy and others for a protest outside a local Hobby Lobby store. The effort, which included handing out condoms, was intended to show that not all religious people support the U.S. Supreme Court’s position in the recent Hobby Lobby case. (Daily Herald - 7.3.14)

Other Hobby Lobby protest stories include:

“Activists Hand Out Condoms at Hobby Lobby to Protest Supreme Court Decision—Their Profession Though Might Surprise You” (The Blaze - 7.4.14)

“Even Clergy Are Against the Hobby Lobby Decision—And They’re Protesting in an Unexpected Way” (News.Mic.com - 7.4.14)

“Culture War Notes From All Over” (The American Conservative - 7.4.14)

“Small protest held outside Naperville Hobby Lobby over Supreme Court decision” (Naperville Sun - 7.2.14)

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) joined over 100 other faith leaders and groups in signing a letter urging President Obama to oppose religious exemptions as he considers anti-discrimination policies in federal contracts. (Religion News Service - 7.8.14)

News from UU congregations

Unity Temple in Oak Park, Ill., named a UUA Breakthrough Congregation in 2008, shares how giving away the money they collect each Sunday has increased their pledge drive by 14 percent. One member said the practice has shifted the congregation’s way of thinking from one of poverty to abundance. (OakPark.com - 7.8.14)

When the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills in Somerville, N.J., moved into their new building, they purposely delayed dedicating it until renovations were completed that made it welcoming and accessible to all people. Each Sunday, they light a candle and acknowledge the progress they have made toward this goal. (centraljersey.com - 7.7.14)

After deciding as a congregation to take steps to be more environmentally sustainable, members of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bloomington, Ill., learned that they could do even more if they became certified as a Green Sanctuary congregation by the UUA. They are actively completing a number of projects to achieve that goal. (pantagraph.com - 7.9.14)

The Shelter Neck Unitarian Universalist Camp in Burgaw, N.C., is a summer camp and retreat center with a rich historical connection to early Universalism in North Carolina and the Unitarian Universalist faith movement today. (StarNewsOnline.com - 7.4.14)

UUs vote for divestment, and other UUs in the media

Shareholder activism continues as part of resolution

In an overwhelming vote, UUs at the 2014 General Assembly in Providence, R.I., passed a resolution to divest the UUA’s Common Endowment Fund of shares in fossil fuel companies, while still maintaining ownership of enough shares to continue their work of shareholder advocacy. (Providence Journal – 6.29.14)

A delegate who participated in the vote for divestment during General Assembly noted that this move was one tactic in a larger strategy to work against our overdependence on fossil fuels. Well-known climate activist Bill McKibben also applauded the vote. (MintPressNews.com – 6.30.14)

Other articles on UUA divestment include:

“Unitarians Go Fossil Fuel Free With Divestment Resolution” (EcoWatch -  6.30.14)

“Unitarian Universalists Divest from Fossil Fuels!” (Eden Keeper – 7.2.14)

“Unitarian Universalists divest from fossil fuels” (Fairfield Citizen – 6.30.14)

Hobby Lobby case is politically motivated

In response to the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of the religious freedom of corporations, the Rev. Marlin Lavanhar of All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Okla., observes that this ruling now makes it possible for corporations to use religion as a pretext for other political aims. (Tulsa World – 7.1.14)

Even Millennials will eventually need a religious community

Beacon Press author Chris Stedman interviews the Rev. Galen Guengerich, senior minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City, on the necessary balance of science and reason and the importance of belonging to a specifically religious community. (Religion News Service – 7.2.14)

UUs support their local LGBT communities

The Rev. Jeff Liebmann, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland, Mich., received the Champion of Pride award from Perceptions Saginaw Valley, a local LGBT rights organization. Liebmann was honored for his active and public support of the LGBT community as a faith leader. (mlive.com – 6.26.14)

Two Unitarian Universalist ministers in Pennsylvania applaud recent legal changes making same-sex marriage legal in the Commonwealth. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 6.30.14)

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers, Fla., held a public witness event to show their support for same-sex marriage lawsuits in the state. (Fox 4 – 6.29.14)

Thousands of UUs gather in Rhode Island, and other UUs in the Media

During its annual General Assembly (GA), held this year in Providence, R.I., the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) joined the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee at a rally outside the Renaissance Hotel to show low-wage workers some love. The crowd swelled to 250 people at one point, the majority of whom were GA attendees. (Providence Journal – 6.26.14)

Local Unitarian Universalist ministers, the Rev. Ellen Quadgraas and the Rev. James Ford, spoke at the rally outside the Renaissance Hotel on Thursday. Ford’s leadership on this issue helped guide the UUA to cancel its contract with the Renaissance prior to GA because of the hotel’s refusal to engage with workers over pay and union issues. (rifuture.org – 6.26.14)

The Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau was happy to report that attendance by 4,600 Unitarian Universalists at their General Assembly in downtown Providence would likely bring more than $4 million dollars in revenue to their city. (Providence Journal – 6.26.14)

The UUA will be the first ever faith sponsor of Providence’s downtown community and arts festival, WaterFire. The event will serve as the public witness component that is included each year at GA. Alex Kapitan, the UUA staff member organizing the event, joined WaterFire spokesperson Brownwyn Dannenfelser to discuss the Love Reaches Out theme. (wpri.com – 6.27.14)

 

Service Committee leader urges transparency for Haiti aid, and other UUs in the media

UUSC’s Schulz says Haitians continue to face challenges

President and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the Rev. Dr. William F. Schulz, has joined with 22 other organizations to strongly urge passage of the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, requiring the State Department to show how U.S. aid to Haiti is being spent. (Huffington Post – 6.13.14)

UU ministers speak out on global justice issues

Given the urgency of global climate change and the need for religious people to care for this world and its people, the Rev. Ann Schranz of Monte Vista Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Montclair, Calif., hopes that our shared religious values will help us collaborate on these sorts of important issues. (Daily Bulletin – 6.13.14)

The Rev. Mark Kiyimba of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kampala, Uganda, is traveling around the United States to share the story of crisis in his country around the oppression of gay people. Because American evangelicals are partly responsible for creating this crisis, Kiyimba hopes to convince Americans that they have a role to play in finding a solution. (Bennington Banner – 6.14.14)

News from the congregations

Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, Md., will hold an interfaith event to honor the memory of three murdered civil rights workers fifty years ago in Mississippi. They hope to use this occasion as a call to action for attendees to urge Congress to move forward on the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014. (Gazette.net – 6.20.14)

The Rev. Arthur Vaeni, known for his role in helping his congregation, Olympia UU Congregation in Washington, create the innovative Quixote Village homeless community, led one of his final services on Sunday. (The Bellingham Herald – 6.15.14)

Members of Unitarian Universalist Meeting of South Berkshire in Housatonic, Mass., celebrated worship service in their new home in the former Housatonic Congregational Church. A capital campaign raised enough funds to help purchase the building and have additional funds set aside for repairs and upgrades as needed. (The Berkshire Eagle – 6.17.14)

Looking back at the 60-year history of the Unitarian Church of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, the congregation celebrates the creation of a religious community in a region that previously lacked a strong liberal religious identity, and the early support they received from their headquarters in Boston. (Edmonton Journal – 6.13.14)

UUs continue push for marriage equality

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, N.C., Carol Taylor and Betty Mack are lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. They argue that the state’s current laws violate their religious freedom because it denies them the right to a religious marriage ceremony. (Asheville Citizen-Times - 6.13.14)

The Rev. Kelly Crocker of First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisc., performed one of the first legal same-sex marriages in the state when she married Christine Pasinski and Nancy Smiegowski, who have been a couple for 29 years. Crocker hopes weddings for many other same-sex couples will follow. (nbc15.com – 6.10.14)

Midwest UUs celebrate marriage equality, and other UUs in the media

Midwest ministers eager to perform same-sex weddings

The Rev. Suzelle Lynch of the Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield, Wisc., made it her mission to be there for couples waiting to be married when a U.S. District Court judge ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Lynch’s congregation has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality for more than a decade. (WISN 12 - 6.10.14)

The Rev. Roger Bertschausen, of Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Appleton, Wisc., organized a gathering at the courthouse to support those who wished to wed, and he performed the county’s first legal same-sex marriage. “It’s a great day in Winnebago County,” said Bertschausen. (postcrescent.com - 6.12.14)

To celebrate marriage equality in Illinois, Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry hosted a special church service and wedding ceremony for four local lesbian couples. Minister of the congregation, the Rev. Sean Parker Dennison, officiated. (Windy City Times - 6.10.14)

The Rev. Bill Freeman, who became well-known recently for his role in marrying same-sex couples while it was legal in Michigan, announced that he would be leaving Harbor Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Muskegon, Mich., to become senior minister at the United Church of Christ in Menifee, Calif. (mlive.com - 6.11.14)

Other marriage equality stories include:

“Four lesbian couples make history, marry in McHenry” (mysuburbanlife.com - 6.8.14)

“Janesville women record Rock County’s first same-sex marriage Monday” (Gazette Xtra - 6.9.14)

“They preach the same scripture, but churches have very different platforms on same-sex marriage” (fox6now.com - 6.10.14)

UUs active in interfaith justice efforts in their communities

Unitarian Universalists in Williamsburg, Va., are taking part in a public forum to support expanding Medicaid benefits in their state. Members of the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists believe this is an important part of their effort to be visible in support of justice causes. (The Virginia Gazette - 6.6.14)

The Rev. Emilie Boggis, of the Unitarian Church in Summit, N.J., is currently serving as president of the Summit Interfaith Council, which is considering creating a “Green Circle” to provide support for community-wide environmental programming. (Independent Press - 6.12.14)

The Rev. Barbara Jarrell of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Shreveport, La., added her voice to others in supporting payday loan reform legislation. She is working with Northern and Central Louisiana Interfaith, which advocates for human rights and economic justice issues. (Shreveport Times - 6.6.14)

UU climate activist blames Baby Boomers, and other UUs in the media

DeChristopher expresses frustration with older generation of liberals

Unitarian Universalist divinity school student and prominent climate change activist Tim DeChristopher shares his view of the generational rift within the environmental justice movement and his thoughts on how he connects his faith to his activism work. (truthout.org – 6.4.14)

For more on DeChristopher: “Tim DeChristopher’s path” (UU World – Winter 2012)

UUs call for changes in sentencing, wages, more

Over 1,000 faith leaders, including Unitarian Universalist Association President the Rev. Peter Morales, have signed a letter urging the U.S. Congress to support a smarter sentencing reform bill to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug offenses. (eNews Park Forest – 6.3.14)

The Rev. Jeff Liebmann, of the UU Fellowship of Midland, Mich., adds his voice to the growing number of religious leaders calling for a raise in the minimum wage. Liebmann argues that in a world where there is enough for all, why should one person experience want? (Midland Daily News – 6.2.14)

At a recent demonstration outside of U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent’s office in Lehigh Valley, Pa., Unitarian Universalist Pat Uribe-Lichty joined other activists calling for legislative action for humane immigration reform as a pressing human rights issue. (The Express-Times – 6.4.14)

The Rev. Nina Grey of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bozeman, Mont., joined clergy of other faiths at City Hall in Bozeman to support the passage of a non-discrimination ordinance that protects people based on their sexual orientation. (Bozeman Daily Chronicle – 6.2.14)

Religious educator shows support for Nigerian abductees

As part of a campaign to keep the more than 200 Nigerian girls abducted by an extremist Muslim group in the hearts and minds of people, Thea Shapiro, director of religious education at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover, Mass., has created nearly 300 folded origami dresses. (Eagle Tribune – 6.1.14)

More news from UU congregations

The Boston Globe profiles a growing number of scouting groups that are being created as inclusive alternatives to the Boys Scouts. They highlight the thriving Chapter 404 of the Navigators USA group formed through First Church in Belmont, Mass. (The Boston Globe – 6.1.14)

As part of their mission to engage with the larger world, Bank Street Unitarian Chapel in Bolton, England, has offered the use of its building to local Street Angels volunteers who serve the community through individual foot patrols on the streets each weekend. (ThisisLancashire.co.uk – 5.29.14)

In an effort to bridge the gap between the Albuquerque police department and the community, an interfaith group has formed. The Rev. Angela Herrera of First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, N.Mex., joined the group because of her commitment to non-violence. (KRQE.com – 6.5.14)

Marketing Unitarian Universalism, and other UUs in the media

UUA rebranding is part of larger effort to grow

Boston Magazine interviews Unitarian Universalist Association President the Rev. Peter Morales and other UU leaders about the UUA’s recent rebranding efforts and how to reach the growing numbers of people who are not interested in attending church. (Boston Magazine - 6.2014)

Pennsylvania UUs get marriage equality, and more LGBTQ justice work

The Rev. Robert F. Renjilian of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, Pa., calls the ruling that overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage “a win for love.” He looks forward to helping plan wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples in his community. (York Daily Record - 5.25.14)

The Rev. Eric Posa, of the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, Pa., and the Rev. Ann Mason, of the UU Church of Lancaster, performed several same-sex wedding ceremonies after the state’s ban was struck down. (The Patriot News - 5.25.14)

Other Pennsylvania marriage-equality celebration stories include:

“Midstate Unitarian churches look forward to same-sex marriage services” (The Patriot News - 5.22.14)
“Main Line Unitarian Church offers free same-sex weddings” (Main Line Media News - 5.22.14)
“Gay marriage: Seven couples wed at Unitarian church in Lancaster” (Lancaster Online - 5.24.14)

The UU Fellowship of Door County in Ephraim, Wisc., will show an exhibit called, “Shall Not Be Recognized,” during the month of June. It includes photographs of Milwaukee-area same-sex couples in long-term relationships and was created to show opposition to the state’s ban on same-sex marriages. (Door County Advocate - 5.23.14)

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka, Kans., have played a prominent role in speaking out in support of LGBTQ people and helping to make their city—also the hometown of Westboro Baptist church—much more inclusive to all. (Huffington Post - 5.23.14)

UUA shareholder activism calls for greater transparency

Chevron Corp. rejected a proposal sponsored by the UUA to split the roles of chairman and chief executive officer. Such a split is part of a long-running campaign by the UUA and other shareholder activists to increase oversight and transparency in these large corporations. (Reuters - 5.28.14)

A ‘catastrophe’ for Texas women and families

The Rev. Daniel Kanter, of the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, Tex., writes about the crisis in women’s health care in his state, created by politicians who wish to attack Planned Parenthood and other vital health care service providers to women and families in the state. (RH Reality Check - 5.29.14)

Minister works as abortion clinic escort, and other UUs in the media

Minister discusses work as an abortion clinic escort 

The Rev. Kathleen Green of the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, N.J., explains that she does the difficult work of supporting women trying to enter abortion clinics because, as a progressive person of faith, she knows that injustice is overcome only when we each speak out against it. (Center for American Progress - 5.1.14)

Clergy support expanded Medicaid, LGBTQ rights

Attending a rally at the Missouri State Legislature, where 23 clergy members were arrested, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia said that faith leaders were there to support the inherent worth and dignity of all people by urging the legislature to expand Medicaid coverage. (KBIA.com - 5.6.14)

The Rev. Art Lester, minister of the Croydon Unitarian Church in London, England, joined with other faith leaders in a One Love event to stand in opposition to homophobia and transphobia and mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. (PinkNews.co.uk - 5.8.14)

The efforts of Bruce Knotts, director of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s UU United Nations Office, to support religious freedom internationally are highlighted in the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. (San Diego Gay & Lesbian News - 5.8.14)

Another way to include unaffiliated young people

Dan McKanan, Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association Senior Lecturer in Divinity at Harvard Divinity School observes that, in his experience, many religiously unaffiliated young people may join a task-oriented justice group sponsored by a religious movement even if they are not comfortable joining a religious organization. (Harvard Gazette - 5.2.14)

News from UU congregations

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Manchester, N.H., is organizing a Cans of Nothing drive to raise funds for the New Hampshire Food Bank. They will give out empty cans at the church to represent the realities of hunger that many of the state’s residents experience and ask people to return the cans filled with money. (New Hampshire Union Leader - 4.30.14)

The Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield, Mass., recently celebrated the 29 years that their uNi Coffeehouse Concert Series has served as a pillar of the local folk community. (The Republican - 5.7.14)

The UUA will be closed Friday, May 16 while we move into our new headquarters at 24 Farnsworth Street. UUs in the Media will return on Friday, May 23.

Suing N.C. for religious freedom to marry, and other UUs in the media

UU ministers, couples join lawsuit brought by United Church of Christ

Two Charlotte-area Unitarian Universalist ministers joined the United Church of Christ’s recent lawsuit against the state of North Carolina challenging a law that criminalizes the religious solemnization of weddings without a state-issued marriage license. (New York Times 4.28.14)

The Rev. Robin Tanner of Piedmont UU Church in Charlotte, N.C., joined the United Church of Christ and ministers of other denominations to affirm her religious liberty to perform marriages for same-sex members of their congregation. The Rev. Mark Ward of the UU Congregation of Asheville has also joined the lawsuit. (Charlotte News & Observer 4.28.14)

In light of the North Carolina lawsuit, Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern considers the lack of response from American conservatives. Stern notes that the religious right was also not upset by efforts of Unitarian Universalist ministers to marry same-sex couples in New York in 2004, risking arrest a statute similar to that in North Carolina. (Slate 4.28.14)

In addition to clergy members who have joined together in the lawsuit against the state of North Carolina, a number of the plaintiffs are same-sex couples who live in the state. Included among them are Unitarian Universalists Carol Taylor and Betty Mack, a committed couple of 41 years. (The Citizen-Times 4.28.14)

See also:

  • “Defending True Religious Liberty: Church Files Lawsuit in Support of Marriage Equality,” Huffington Post 4.28.14
  • “Religious Freedom Wars: Why the UCC’s Lawsuit Against NC Gay Marriage Ban Matters for Every American,” Huffington Post 4.30.14

Dear Abby and the Unitarian Universalist option

In response to a column in Dear Abby in which an atheist described feeling coerced into attending the church services of their spouse, many readers suggested that a Unitarian Universalist congregation would be a welcoming place for the couple. (Dear Abby 5.1.14)

News from UU congregations

Thirteen paintings from the UU Church of Tarpon Springs, Fla., will debut as part of a special exhibition of the work of renowned landscape artist George Inness, Jr. The congregation have been careful stewards the works ever since Inness, Jr. painted them a triptych to replace windows destroyed in a 1918 hurricane.  (TBNweekly.com 4.29.14)

Youth from the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship in Carbondale, Ill., will sleep outdoors in a “Cardboard City” as part of the congregation’s annual fundraiser serving local organizations that help the homeless.  The event also raises awareness among middle and high school students of the difficult realities of homelessness. (The Southern Illinoisan 4.27.14)

The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey is sending letters to the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security urging them to use alternative forms of detention and provide better treatment of detainees in immigration detention centers. (The Paramus Post 5.2.14)

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