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Unitarian Universalists in the media

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

Choosing church on Sunday, and other UUs in the media

Being spiritual and religious means going to church

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

Tim DeChristopher connects faith, activism

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

UUs deeply involved in racial justice protests across country

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

Other stories of racial justice demonstrations:

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

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

Holidays, UU style

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

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

Minister led congregation through period of impressive growth

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

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

UUs participate in vigils across the country

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

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

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

Minister sees churches as a place of racial healing

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

Fighting racism is a spiritual imperative

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

Grieving the loss of a pet from a generational perspective

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

Updates on the demise of two UU church buildings

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

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

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

UUs celebrate expanded marriage equality

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

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

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

Controversy continues over Starr King investigation

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

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

Plaintiff in landmark marriage-equality case remembers how it began

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

Other marriage equality stories:

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

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

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

Welcoming religious community helps college student discover himself

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

Chaplain services are part of new health care model in Tennessee

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

UU institutional investors seek justice in Bhopal gas tragedy

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

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

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)

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