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Unitarian Universalists in the media

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

Author reflects on 10 years of marriage equality, and other UUs in the media

Marriage equality, then and now

On the 10th anniversary of legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, E.J. Graff, senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and author of What Is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution, reflects on the fight for marriage equality. (Boston Globe – 5.16.14)

Since Tuesday’s federal court ruling struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage, the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg has been flooded with requests for wedding services. (Penn Live – 5.22.14)

Having faith in faith

Domenick Scudera writes about visiting a UU church for his niece’s ordination and how the experience helped restore his faith—at least a bit—in the positive qualities of organized religion after years of Catholic doctrine that told him “homosexual acts are ‘intrinsically disordered.’” (Huffington Post – 5.21.14)

Too much information?

The UUA’s sexuality curriculum Our Whole Lives got a shout-out from a reader on The Dish for how it deals frankly with matters such as “lovemaking and pleasure.” The conversation was started by a bioethics professor reflecting on how uninformed her son’s classmates are about sex ed. (The Dish – 5.21.14, 5.20.14)

In the congregations

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Statesboro, Ga., is in the process of converting an old auto shop into its new church. (Statesboro Herald – 5.17.14)

One final service will be held at the 123-year-old former home of Detroit’s First Unitarian Church, which was recently destroyed in a fire. A candlelight vigil and ceremony is being organized by Preservation Detroit. (Detroit Free Press – 5.19.14)

At its annual meeting, the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence, Mass., voted to divest its endowment of fossil fuel stocks. (MassLive.com – 5.19.14)

Introducing our new media blogger

It’s my pleasure to announce that beginning today, UUs in the Media will be written by Rachel Walden.

Rachel has worked for the Unitarian Universalist Association since 2009. During her time here, she has given tours for groups of all ages, helped UUs and newcomers learn about the UUA and its programs, and created social media content for the UUA. Her current work in the UUA’s Office of Information and Public Witness includes monitoring the media for references to Unitarian Universalists. Prior to working for the UUA, she served as church administrator for the UU Church of the Brazos Valley in College Station, Tex.

Milwaukee congregation a divestment leader, and other UUs in the media

Milwaukee congregation to divest from fossil fuels

First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, Wisc., has joined the divestment movement, announcing its plan to sell all holdings in fossil fuel companies as a way to combat climate change. The congregation says they are the first religious institution in the country to completely divest from fossil fuels. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – 7.20.13)

See also: Four UU congregations pull investments from fossil fuel companies (uuworld.org – 6.17.13)

Related: The 2013 UUA General Assembly voted to adopt an Action of Immediate Witness that called for delegates to “begin a denomination-wide conversation within their congregations about divesting from fossil fuels or exercising shareholder influence.” (blogs.uuworld.org/ga – 6.23.13)

Feeding the hungry, rallying for gun safety, and more

The Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Church in Summit, N.J., donated $2,000 to Summit Helping Its People, a group that feeds area residents in need. (Independent Press – 7.21.13)

Survivors of gun violence, including Tammy Sommers, who was injured during the 2008 shooting at Tennessee Valley UU Church in Knoxville, joined others to rally for legislation that would expand background checks for gun buyers. (uuworld.org – 7.28.08, newschannel5.com – 6.25.13)

The Interfaith Peace Camp, a weeklong camp that teaches children about the meaning of peace in different religions, celebrated its 10th anniversary. (Danbury News Times – 7.20.13)

California church sues NSA, and other UUs in the media

Los Angeles church leads lawsuit against NSA

First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the National Security Agency, which the group of 19 organizations bringing the case says violated Americans’ “First Amendment right of association by illegally collecting their call records” as part of its antiterrorism surveillance program. (KCET – 7.16.13)

Among the many stories covering the lawsuit were:

Unitarians, gun lovers, and pot advocates sue the NSA over spying program (Mother Jones – 7.17.13)

Church, advocacy groups sue NSA over surveillance (PC World – 7.16.13)

Church, rights groups sue NSA over spying (Kansas City infoZine – 7.17.13)

Unlikely coalition sues NSA over phone surveillance (sv411 – 7.17.13)

Californians sue over NSA surveillance (Examiner – 7.17.13)

Dedham church hosts talk by Catholic reformist

More than 500 people gathered to hear the Rev. Helmut Schuller, a reformist Catholic priest from Austria, speak at First Church and Parish in Dedham, Mass. Schuller was supposed to speak at Dedham’s Saint Susanna Parish, but Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley banned his appearance, in part due to Schuller’s advocacy for ordaining women and married men, so the talk was moved to the UU church. (WBUR – 7.18.13)

See also: Priest says grouping parishes will weaken church (Boston Globe – 7.18.13)

Second fire damages UU church

A fire of unknown origin damaged the First Unitarian Cooperative Preschool in San Diego, Calif., on Tuesday, just six months after an arson fire damaged the same property. (KFMB – 7.16.13)

Toshi Seeger, wife of folk legend, dies

Toshi Seeger, wife of UU folk singer Pete Seeger, died at 91. They had been married for almost 70 years. (New York Times – 7.11.13)

Introducing a new media blogger

It’s my pleasure to announce that beginning today, UUs in the Media will be written by the Rev. Christian Schmidt.

Christian has worked at UU World since 2010 and will become the minister of First Parish in Malden, Mass., in August.

Christian is a graduate of Andover Newton Theological School and the University of Houston, and he worked as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers before beginning preparation for the ministry. He has a passion for Unitarian Universalism and communications, and also serves as a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Massachusetts Bay District board of trustees.

You may already know Christian from his blog, afreefaith.com. He lives in Malden, Mass., with his wife, Kristin, and their son.

Activist Tim DeChristopher on Letterman, and other UUs in the media

Tim DeChristopher appears on Late Show

UU and climate activist Tim DeChristopher, who served a 21-month prison sentence for disrupting a 2008 federal oil-and-gas leasing auction, appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on June 25, where he talked about his bidding experience, going to prison, and the new documentary about him, Bidder 70. (YouTube)

DeChristopher also spoke to the Courier-Journal when he was in Louisville, Ky., for the UUA’s General Assembly. (6.29.13)

For more on DeChristopher:

On banks of Ohio River, UUs rally for clean energy (blogs.uuworld.org/ga – 6.20.13)

Tim DeChristopher’s path (UU World – Winter 2012)

Activism is an act of faith (UU World – Winter 2012)

UU responses to marriage equality, Voting Rights Act rulings

The recent Supreme Court rulings surrounding marriage equality have reinvigorated marriage rights activists in New Jersey, where civil unions are legal but not same-sex marriage. The Rev. Manish Mishra-Marzetti, of the UU Church in Cherry Hill, N.J., shared links to several recent news stories that include mentions of the congregation’s work in this area, including an opinion piece he wrote and two news videos, one of which featured he and his family. (The Inquirer – 6.27.13, Courier Post – 6.28.13, Channel 6 ABC – 6.27.13, Channel 3 CBS – 6.26.13)

The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt and the Rev. Meg Barnhouse, both UU ministers, respond with joy and outrage to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality rulings and its decision to throw out Section Four(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (Huffington Post – 6.29.13)

With same-sex marriages set to resume in California, Conejo Valley UU Fellowship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., announced that it will waive its sanctuary rental fee for gay and lesbian couples who want to wed at the church. (The Acorn – 7.3.13)

Holocaust heroes, a day of service, and more

NPR’s “Here & Now” featured a story about the documentary Two Who Dared, which chronicles the work of a Unitarian minister and his wife who worked to save refugees during the Holocaust. (WBUR – 6.26.13)

First Parish UU in Kingston, Mass., held a Service Day, during which members volunteered to help individuals with various tasks or worked on community projects. (Wicked Local Kingston – 6.27.13)

DuPage UU Church in Naperville, Ill., a Green Sanctuary, was awarded an Earth Flag for environmental sustainability from DuPage County and SCARCE (School & Community Assistance with Recycling & Composting Education). (Chicago Tribune – 6.27.13)

Local media covers General Assembly, and other UUs in the media

General Assembly draws media attention

During the recent UUA General Assembly in Lousiville, Ky., the UUA partnered with Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light to sponsor a public witness event focused on the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels. Thousands of people gathered for the event, which featured speakers Wendell Berry and activist Tim DeChristopher. The rally got plenty of local media coverage, including lots of photos of GA attendees. Of course, not everyone supported the clean-energy rally. (tcktcktck.org – 6.17.13, Courier-Journal – 6.15.13, 6.21.13, WFPL News – 6.20.13)

Read UU World‘s coverage of the event, which includes a video. (blogs.uuworld.org/ga – 6.20.13)

Local media also reported on the Action of Immediate Witness that delegates voted overwhelmingly to pass during Sunday afternoon’s plenary, which calls for congregations to “begin a denomination-wide conversation within their congregations about divesting from fossil fuels or exercising shareholder influence.” (Courier-Journal – 6.24.13)

See also: Passed: fossil fuel divestment AIW (blogs.uuworld.org/ga – 6.23.13)

The Courier-Journal ran an article describing General Assembly and Unitarian Universalism. (6.22.13)

A writer on Huffington Post talks about the Librotraficantes Under Ground Library in Louisville, in which more than 200 copies of contraband texts were donated from across the United States by members of the HUUmanists. (6.18.13)

UUs respond to DOMA decision

Margaret Weis, a UU seminarian and military wife in a same-sex marriage, reacts to the death of the Defense of Marriage Act and celebrates the new rights she and her wife will soon have. (Boston Herald – 6.27.13)

Wives Holly and Tonja Hewlett, members of the UU Church of the Shenandoah Valley in Stephens City, Va., rejoice in the demise of DOMA but say “there’s still a lot of work to do.” (Northern Virginia Daily – 6.27.13)

As North Carolina marriage equality supporters celebrated the DOMA decision, UU ministers the Rev. Robin Tanner and the Rev. Ann Marie Alderman, who married each other in North Carolina in May, said that are now considering repeating their vows in Washington, D.C. (Charlotte Observer – 6.27.13)

A photo gallery of the “41 Best Signs Outside The Supreme Court On The Day DOMA Was Struck Down” include several with recognizably UU signs (39, 22, 14, 10). See if you can spot any more! (Buzzfeed – 6.26.13)


Asking questions leads to Jeopardy! win, and other UUs in the media

UU is three-day Jeopardy! champ

Tim Anderson, music director at the UU Church in Rockford, Ill., recently appeared as a contestant on “Jeopardy!” Anderson was a three-day champion, earning $58,001. (Rockford Register Star – 6.6.13, 6.12.13)

‘God Revised’ author talks religion, community

Paul Hiebert interviews the Rev. Galen Guengerich, senior minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City and author of God Revised: How Religion Must Evolve in a Scientific Age, about Unitarian Universalism, God, community, and religious fundamentalists. (Pacific Standard – 6.6.13)

Teens tour civil-rights hotspots, the sexualization of warfare, and more

After a month spent studying the people, places, and events of the civil rights movement, a group of 10 teenagers from University UU Society in Orlando, Fla., took a five-day tour of civil-rights memorials and museums in Georgia and Alabama. One of the participants, describing the tour, said it was “eye-opening that it all really happened and it was more of a movement than a brief turbulence in history.” (Orlando Sentinel – 6.10.13)

Bank Street Unitarian Chapel in Bolton, England—one of about 20 churches in the country to be granted the right to perform same-sex civil partnership ceremonies—is celebrating its first bookings for such ceremonies. (This Is Lancashire – 6.9.13)

In an article about same-sex marriage in Maryland, James Gibbons Walker, of the UU Fellowship of Southern Maryland, talks about his congregation’s support for marriage equality and how he is “very happy” to perform same-sex weddings. (SoMdNews.com – 6.7.13)

Watch a video about the founders of St. Louis who are buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery, including notable Unitarian the Rev. William Greenleaf Elliot. (KTVI – 6.12.13)

The Rev. Dr. Stan Sears, of the Auburn, N.Y., UU Society, reflects on the show “Game of Thrones,” its parallels with our society, and the sexualization of warfare. (The Citizen – 6.9.13)

In an article about parents talking to their kids about sex, Wendy Shaver, a member and former youth director of the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, Pa., discusses the Our Whole Lives (OWL) program and why she talks openly to her daughter about sex and sexuality. (pennlive.com – 6.9.13)

The Rev. Steve Aschmann, minister of the UU Congregation of Erie, Pa., writes about Unitarian Universalism and the personal “journey of faith.” (Erie Times-News – 6.8.13)

Hundreds of Moral Monday protestors, among them many UUs, gathered in Raleigh, N.C., to speak out against Republican-proposed policies they say will hurt the poor. (The Herald-Sun – 6.10.13)

The UU Church in Meriden, Conn., presented its Humanitarian of the Year award to Sharon Scully. (Meriden Record-Journal – 6.9.13)

UUs in the Media will be on hiatus while I am at General Assembly and will return on June 28. You can follow daily General Assembly news and events on UU World‘s GA blog.

In the media: Former UUA president performs wedding for web mogul

Former UUA president Buehrens performs wedding for web mogul

Former UUA President John Buehrens officiated at the $10 million wedding of Napster creator and Facebook founding president Sean Parker last weekend. The fantasy-themed wedding, held in a forest in Big Sur, California, reportedly had 300 guests, elaborate sets, and clothing by an Academy award-winning costume designer. Sadly, the article doesn’t mention what Buehrens wore—feel free to speculate. (Daily Mail – 6.2.13)

Texas state rep talks religious diversity, a roller derby Sunday service, and more

Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, a UU, recently spoke out for religious diversity at the Texas Legislature, which begins each session with a prayer, saying in part: “So before we begin . . . let us collectively observe a moment of silence while we individually look to whatever source we choose and invoke guidance and inspiration for the work before us and the decisions we will be making.” (Austin-American Statesman – 6.1.13)

Watch a video of the Hard Knox Roller Derby Team taking part in a Sunday service at Tennessee Valley UU Church in Knoxville, Tenn. (WBIR – 6.3.13)

The UU Fellowship of Athens, Ga., held its inaugural Harry Potter-themed youth camp. (Athens Banner-Herald – 6.5.13)

Read more about UU summer programs for kids: ‘The only place I can really be me‘ (UU World – Summer 2013)

The Rev. Nate C. Walker, minister of First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, Pa., talks to the Philadelphia Daily News about his church and about the UU faith. (Philly.com – 6.1.13)

Read more about First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia: Saving a historic church (UU World – Fall 2011)

The Rev. Robert Murphy, minister of the UU Fellowship of Falmouth, Mass., has experience ministering to people who have lost homes and businesses to hurricanes, so to mark the beginning of hurricane season he held an interfaith prayer service to “reflect on community needs in a changing environment.” (Cape Cod Times – 6.1.13)

Enjoy a short news video of the UU Church of Binghamton, N.Y., hosting a Pride Community Picnic in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month. (WICZ.com – 6.2.13)

Members of the Unitarian Church of Staten Island in New Brighton, N.Y., participated in Staten Island’s ninth-annual LGBT Pride Parade and Festival. (Staten Island Advance – 6.1.13)

The UU Congregation of McHenry, Ill., recently voted to adopt the name Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation. (Chicago Tribune – 6.3.13)

Members of the UU Church of Greater Lynn in Swampscott, Mass., voted to call the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein as their new minister. (The Marblehead Reporter – 6.4.13)

Eliza Tupper Wilkes, a Universalist who founded, among other things, at least 11 churches, is buried in her husband’s grave, with no marker of her own or indication that she is buried there. Members of All Souls Church in Sioux Falls, S. Dak., hope that will change. (ArgusLeader.com – 5.31.13)

In the media: DeChristopher tells Moyers why he is going to seminary

Tim DeChristopher tells Bill Moyers why he’s headed to seminary

Bill Moyers interviews activist and UU Tim DeChristopher about his trial, the future of the environmental movement, the necessity of civil disobedience, and why he wants to be a UU minister. DeChristopher was recently released after spending 21 months in federal prison for disrupting a 2008 oil and gas auction.

Why Tim DeChristopher Went to Prison for His Protest from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

A transcript of the interview is also available on the site. (billmoyers.com – 5.24.13)

More UU activists in the news

The Times of Trenton profiles climate change activist Ellie Whitney, a member of the UU Congregation of Princeton, N.J. (nj.com – 5.27.13)

See related: Read Whitney’s Winter 2012 UU World article, How to meet the climate crisis.

South Church in Portsmouth, N.H., has voted to divest its holdings in fossil fuel stocks over the next five years. (Portsmouth Herald – 5.27.13)

See related: In the Summer 2013 issue of UU World, Tim Brennan, UUA treasurer and chief financial officer, and the Rev. Fred Small, minister of First Parish in Cambridge, Mass., debate whether UUs should divest from fossil fuels.

May 27 was the birthday of 19th-century Unitarian and activist Julia Ward Howe, who founded Mother’s Day and wrote the lyrics to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and the Northwest Herald marks the day by looking back at her life. (Northwest Herald – 5.27.13)

See related: Mother’s Day for peace, as Julia Ward Howe intended (uuworld.org – 5.19.08)

Congregational news

The UU Society of Bangor, Maine, is having a centennial rededication of its building, which replaced one that was destroyed in the town’s “Great Fire of 1911.” Watch the video to see some lovely footage of the interior of the building and its artifacts. (Bangor Daily News – 5.26.13)

The Rev. Wayne Robinson of All Faiths Unitarian Congregation in Fort Myers, Fla., is retiring. (news-press.com – 5.25.13)

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